NOBLESVILLE – The full skillset was on display. For Silver Creek standout forward Trey Kaufman, one of the best high school basketball players in Indiana, a summer tournament game with Indiana Elite gave him a chance to get up and down the floor and show his developing game.
Pull-up jumpers in transition from 12 feet. Shooting range beyond the 3-point line. Dunks on alley-oop passes. Blocks from the strong and weak side.
“As far as southern Indiana, you’ve got teams who box-and-one, hold the ball halfcourt for the entire game,” Kaufman said. “So it’s kind of hard to show pull-up jump shots, 3s when you’re facing zones, all that stuff. It’s been fun to show what I can do.”
The 6-foot-8, 210-pound Kaufman from Sellersberg will enter his senior year as one of the favorites to win Mr. Basketball in 2021. He’s also been one of the most talked about recruits on Indiana’s radar.
Kaufman, who was named Indiana’s 2020 Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior, could follow a recent trend of in-state talents who have stayed close to home to play for the Hoosiers. Or Kaufman could end up at Virginia after Tony Bennett offered a scholarship over the spring. Louisville, Purdue and Xavier also have offered Kaufman, who hasn’t set a timeline for when he will commit to a school.
“All the schools that offered me, I think they really have a fair chance right now,” Kaufman said. “I tell a lot of people really the biggest thing for me is to developing, whatever team can make me the best player I can be, that’s the number one thing I want in the school.”
Virginia has a strong reputation for player development under Bennett, having had eight players picked in the NBA draft since 2012, including current Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon (2014) and Atlanta Hawks rookie forward De’Andre Hunter (2019). IU has had three players taken in the NBA draft under third-year coach Archie Miller, including Romeo Langford, who went 12th overall in the first round to the Boston Celtics in 2019.
Kaufman said Miller’s recent ability to get in-state talent to play for IU will factor into his decision. The Hoosiers have landed the last three Mr. Basketballs — Langford in 2018, forward Trayce Jackson-Davis in 2019 and guard Anthony Leal in 2020. Kaufman is playing for the same Indiana Elite travel program that produced Leal, incoming freshman point guard Khristian Lander and incoming freshman swingman Trey Galloway.
“That’s honestly a really big factor with Indiana, in particular, because you know the guys,” Kaufman said. “It’s not so much talent, but when you have five guys on the floor that you know you can trust on the court but also off the court, it makes a big difference, makes a big deal.”
There have been some unforeseen obstacles in Kaufman’s recruitment, with an NCAA dead period in recruiting until at least July 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kaufman has been allowed to communicate with coaches through FaceTime and texts, but there have been no face-to-face or campus visits since March.
“I’m a real person, so although phone and texting is one thing, I think face-to-face contact is really how you build a relationship,” Kaufman said. “So it’s been hard, but it kind of builds your instincts a little bit.”
Kaufman is intent on spending his summer developing his game. The shooting range has come over time and on Saturday included 3-pointers from both the wing and top of the key.
“A lot of teams see me as that, some guy who can play on the perimeter and also play on the post depending on who is guarding me,” Kaufman said. “So it’s just a versatility thing. You know my goal is to be a knockdown shooter. I want to be the best shooter in the country, the best player in the country. You have to add that to your game.”
After winning Gatorade Player of the Year, Kaufman has his sights set on winning Mr. Basketball in 2021. He even joked he was upset Lander reclassified because he wanted to compete with him for the award. But Kaufman knows that honor won’t come without hard work, and he’s looking to continue to get as much time in the gym as possible before the season starts.
“I want to be the best player I can be,” Kaufman said. “Whatever honor it is, Mr. Basketball, Gatorade next year as well. I want to do everything I can.”