The proliferation of summer travel basketball over the past several years has nearly eclipsed the idea of the "diamond in the rough" prospect. The popularity of Twitter and the number of individuals covering recruiting also has opened a new world, where it's almost impossible to go unnoticed for long.
But in the case of Caleb Oetjen, it has understandably taken some time to get on the radar.
Oetjen, a 6-foot senior-to-be, has been home-schooled since kindergarten. Because the Indiana High School Athletic Association does not allow home-schooled athletes to compete for member schools, Oetjen has played at Horizon Christian, a private non-IHSAA school on the Northeastside, since the seventh grade.
Horizon Christian, coached by Caleb's father, Trey Oetjen, plays several of the small-school IHSAA programs in the area during the high school season and competes in the Christian school state tournament at the end of the season.
The Oetjens live in Fortville and Caleb looked into transferring to Mt. Vernon to increase his opportunities in basketball. The family decided to continue with home schooling and keep Caleb at Horizon Christian.
"For me, you always want to play at the highest level," said Caleb, the oldest of eight siblings. "So I think about that and joke with Mom about it sometimes, but this is the path we've chosen. I've always been home-schooled and I'm best friends with my siblings, so I've been blessed that it's worked out the way it has."
Oetjen is a left-handed point guard who can also score in bunches. On his Horizon Christian team, Oetjen has put up monster numbers in tournament and league games this June, twice scoring more than 50 points in a game. At the USSFA small-school tournament last week at Noblesville, he averaged 38.7 points in seven games and scored 54 in a narrow win over Scecina.
Howe coach Mike Elliott and Broad Ripple coach Scott Hicks had high praise for the Horizon Christian star, who is also playing with his team at the IPS summer league at Tech this month.
"He's legit," Elliott said. "He can score, he can handle it and he's not afraid of contact."
Oetjen does not have any scholarship offers. The only school he has visited is NAIA Division II Indiana Wesleyan. But he attended the Butler elite camp last week and said the coaches there have shown interest. Ball State, Cornell and Davidson also have shown some level of interest, while a number of other Division II and NAIA schools have inquired.
Oetjen has no idea where his recruitment is headed but feels like his name is finally out there.
"It's always been a dream to play in college, so it's been a little tough from that aspect being home-schooled and playing at a smaller school," he said. "But I think hard work pays off. It has been a little discouraging at times, but now I'm starting to see a little more progress. Who knows? You never know what could happen."
The IPS summer league will continue Tuesday at Tech High School, including games inside the sparkling new Legacy Center adjacent to the Tech gym. Playing without junior-to-be standout Trey Lyles, who is with the Canadian Junior National team in Brazil this weekend for the FIBA Americas U18 Championship, Tech defeated Northwest 75-70 in overtime in one of the top games this week. Junior Jeremie Tyler led Tech with 20 points and sophomore guard Harris Brown had 36 for Northwest. Tech is 4-0 in the league. Games begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the next two weeks. . . . Another top high school league is played at Anderson University, with teams from Lawrence North, Guerin Catholic, Fishers, Tech, North Central, Noblesville, Hamilton Heights and several more. Games begin Monday at 4:45 p.m., and again on June 21 and 25.
An NCAA rule goes into effect today that will allow college coaches to make unlimited phone calls and send text messages to recruits who have finished their sophomore year of high school. Today is also the first day coaches are allowed to contact prospects who have completed their sophomore year.
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For more on new visits and offers, visit the Recruiting Central blog at blogs.indystar.com/ recruitingcentral or follow @KyleNeddenriep on twitter.