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  • Val T.

Culver boys basketball preview: Newcomers Rodgers, Guasp hope to raise Cavs to new ‘Hites’


Sports Editor, RTC

There might have been some uncertainty about this year’s Culver boys basketball team after last season ended.

After all, they graduated point guard Ethan Keller, shooting guard Emiliano Ortiz, forwards Joey Pizur and Oliver Morgan and center Shane Shuman from a team that won 12 games – two of them in the sectional – before falling to Marquette Catholic in the sectional final.

But with David Hite as seemingly the only player with extensive varsity experience coming back, help has come from two different places – one from across town and one from overseas.

The one from across town is 5-10 senior point guard Jack Rodgers, a move-in from Culver Academy.

Rodgers starred for Culver in football this fall at both running back and linebacker, but he’s also an experienced basketball player.

“I say this with all due respect to Ethan Keller,” Culver coach Kyle Evans said. “I thought Ethan Keller was probably one of the best point guards in our conference for two years in a row, and I think now we move into the third year of having one of the best point guards in the conference. He’ll step into our point guard role, and he’s really good. He’s really, really good.”

Evans said Rodgers played last year in a bench role at Culver Academy. A serious knee injury and injuries to his hand and wrist had marred his basketball career there. Evans described Rodgers as “explosively fast.”

“We’re going to utilize him in a completely different way than he was at Culver Military,” Evans said. “He does a full year of varsity experience and at the 3A level, and that’s a big difference. Speed and ability is much different when he’s used to playing 3As and 4As. … It makes a big difference in a good way for us.”

The one from overseas is Adria Guasp, a 6-0 foreign exchange student from Spain.

From the first time he saw him play, Evans said Guasp had a grasp of the fundamentals and could tell he was well-coached in Spain.

“He’s a basketball fanatic,” Evans said. “When he first came in, he came in and said, ‘I want to play college basketball someday.’ And we were like, ‘Excellent, let’s see what his work ethic is.’ His work ethic was phenomenal. He told us he’s a scorer. He likes to score. We said, ‘Alright, we’ll see about that.’ He’s probably one of our best perimeter 3-point shooters. So he checked that box. … He’s phenomenal off the bounce. He’s an incredible slasher. He plays fast off the bounce, and when he gets in the paint, he plays slow. So he’s been well-coached. And he has the ability to score at the rim through contact and just does some really, really good things. And he’s starting to come along and learn what we do defensively. … He’s going to be a huge help for us this year.”

Rodgers is one of two seniors. The other is Brady Kindernay, a 6-1 forward. Kindernay returns to the team after not playing last year due to a broken wrist.

Evans called Kindernay a “slasher” who is also a good defender.

Guasp is listed as one of four juniors on the team. Hite, Logan Caudill and Ethan Binion are the other three.

Hite improved his shooting last year, and the rest of his game improved from there, according to Evans.

“He had a conference game last year against PIoneer where I believe he had five 3s,” Evans said. “And that sparked him forward offensively because he really struggled all season long up until that point, and then once he had that breakout game, he really took off and was a guy who would hit one or two a game for us from 3. He’s a guy that benefits immensely from having a Jack Rodgers that’s going to be a playmaker that gets him shots. … He’s also really grown his game as an attacker. He makes a lot of plays off the dribble.”

Binion and Caudill are the two tallest players on the team at 6-2 and 6-3, respectively.

Binion received occasional varsity minutes last year but is moving to full-time varsity this year.

“He’s a lot quicker and more athletic than the posts we’ve had in the past,” Evans said of Binion. “Shane (Shuman) was a true back-to-the-basket, Shaquille O’Neal-type scorer. That’s not necessarily Ethan’s game. So we’re going to utilize him in the post and the perimeter. He’s going to be a big guy in ball-screen action. He has the ability to make from 3, but he’s not necessarily looking for that unless he’s wide open. But he’s really good at transition offensively, but his main role is as a great defender at the base of our trapping D. He has the potential to possibly be one of the best centers we’ve had that position since maybe (2021 grad) Braxton Conley.”

Caudill is similar to Binion, Evans added, except that Caudill is a better shooter while Binion is more comfortable off the dribble. He also called Caudill a “tenacious rebounder.”

The three sophomores are twin brothers Caleb and Jonas McCuen and 5-5 guard Adam Peterson, who also plays soccer and runs cross-country in the fall.

Jonas McCuen is more of a “true point guard” while Caleb McCuen is more of a spot-up shooter, according to Evans.

“We’re just truly getting him to believe in when you have the look, you have to take it,” Evans said of Caleb McCuen. “Quit thinking and take the shot. Because that’s his strength. … He’s in a position that we need scoring from (him). He might have nights where he’s one of our top scorers if he has the right mindset. If we have to beg it out of him is when you won't see him score much. If he’s aggressive, he’s going to have nice nights shooting the ball, and we’ll continue to develop his game off the bounce as well.”

The only freshmen in the program are Eli Woodward and Drake Zorich.

Zorich is recovering from a broken collarbone suffered during football season. The 5-10 Woodward is known for his outside shooting.

Owen Manikowski will miss his second straight season due to a knee injury.

“We had 12 (players) last year, and we found a way,” Evans said. “So same numbers. We graduated a ton of guys but thankfully replaced them with the same amount of guys – actually more guys, we’re just dealing with some crazy injuries right now.”

Now the task is finding the leadership that left with the graduation of the five seniors.

“I’m excited about the guys we have this year, but those guys are impossible to replace,” Evans said. “What Ethan and Mano (Ortiz) and Joey and Ollie and Shane were able to do for me over the last three years, it was a pleasure coaching them. We can’t replace what they had. I miss those guys. I miss their competitiveness and what they brought. It’s hard to replace that.

“Moving forward with this team, the biggest difference is last year’s group, they didn’t have to say much as far as vocal leadership. When they were not good, they knew they were not good and had to pick it up. And they had no problem holding each other accountable or holding themselves accountable. If they didn’t play well, they knew it, and they made sure the next week of practice was good. This group’s different, and the leadership they bring is different. These guys are more vocal. They’re a lot more positive with their mouths whereas last year’s group was purely physical. If they showed leadership through hard work and getting after it … while this group does that, they’re also very vocal. … They bring a lot of positive energy in practice, and to me that’s great leadership. Somebody had to start that, and it’s kind of carried on with them.”

Coaching changes

Brothers Adam and A.J. Neace were Evans’ assistants but are now the girls basketball co-head coaches. Varsity assistant Mike Elliott and JV coach Auston “Reno” Zehner have replaced them.

Elliott is a 1983 Culver grad who teaches physical education with Evans at school. Zehner is a 2022 Culver grad.

Schedule changes

Culver dropped the Hebron tournament typically held in late December as well as a game with Logansport. They added games with Washington Township (road, Dec. 22), Community Baptist (home, Jan. 9) and DeMotte Christian (home, Feb. 1).

Class 1A, Sectional 50

Argos, CULVER, Marquette Catholic, Oregon-Davis, Trinity Greenlawn, Triton, Westville


Nov. 22 – vs. Rochester, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 28 – at West Central, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 1 – vs. Lakeland Christian, 8 p.m.

Dec. 5 – at North Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 9 – at Knox, 8 p.m.

Dec. 12 – vs. Winamac, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 16 – vs. Trinity Greenlawn, noon

Dec. 22 – at Washington Township, 8 p.m.

Jan. 5 – at Caston, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 9 – vs. Community Baptist, 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 12 – vs. Triton, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 16-20 – Bi-County Tournament (field includes Argos, Bremen, John Glenn, LaVille, New Prairie, Oregon-Davis, Triton)

Jan. 24 – at Oregon-Davis, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 26 – at LaVille, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 1 – vs. DeMotte Christian, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 8 – at Argos, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 9 – vs. Pioneer, 7 p.m.

Feb. 13 – at North Judson, 8 p.m.

Feb. 15 – at South Central (Union Mills), 8 p.m.

Feb. 17 – at Tri-Township, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 23 – vs. Bremen, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 27-March 2 – Class 1A, Sectional 50 at Triton

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