CARMEL — C.J. Gunn won’t get matched up against guys like Jalen Washington all that often at the next level, at least not primarily.
Gunn, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Lawrence North who is committed to Indiana for the Class of 2022 will certainly find himself on 6-foot-9 power forwards with 3-point range like Washington has on switches, but not as a primary assignment.
But this is high school and Gunn is still one of the tallest and most experienced players on his high school roster, especially because Lawrence North was hit so hard by graduation after falling to Carmel in the Indiana Class 4A state championship game in April. Among the Wildcats who were moving on are 6-7 forward D.J. Hughes, who will play his college ball at Butler.
Lawrence North and Jack Keefer frequently play a zone defense, and on Saturday against Gay Westside Leadership in the IBCA/IHSAA Team Showcase in memory of Charlie Hughes, Gunn was often in the back of it, which led him to have to deal with Washington, a top 20 player in the Class of 2022. Washington got his buckets, but Gunn held his own, even blocking his shot at one point, and his defense helped Lawrence North win that game 48-44.
“He’s a big man, I’m a guard, but I’ve gotta do what I gotta do,” Gunn said. “The way the teams are matched up, I’m one of the biggest on our team, so if that’s what I gotta do I’m going to take on that responsibility.”
Much of this year for Gunn will be about taking on more responsibility on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. He’s a proud defender, and has a good sense of what he’s supposed to do in Keefer’s system. He knows his job now is to make sure everyone else around him does too.
“What I think I have to do is bring these young guys in and teach them the ropes,” Gunn said. “Make sure they understand the plays and bring them in so we can play as a team and we play together. It’s just about being more vocal, leading the guys, telling them where they’re supposed to be and in the right positions.”
He’s also looking to initiate the offense more often and operate out of the point guard spot, working on his pull-up game so he can shoot off ball screens.
“I’m definitely in the lab every day working on trying to get myself open shots,” Gunn said. “I’m going to keep working on my handle.”
Gunn said he also wants to get better at using his left hand and at finishing through contact at the rim.
Gunn can focus on improvement without having to worry about recruitment, as he has already made his commitment to Indiana. IU coaches are still coming to his games this summer, particularly Kenya Hunter, and they’re telling him a lot of the same things the Lawrence North coaches are.
“I have great communication with Indiana,” Gunn said. “I saw coach Hunter. He can’t talk to me here, but he texts me after every game and gives me advice on what to work on, tells me what I did well, just coaching me already even though I’m not even at IU yet. I appreciate that.”
What the IU coaches are telling him is a lot of what he was already working on.
“He basically just told me he wants me to be more vocal,” Gunn said of Hunter. “He wants me to lead my team and be more aggressive on offense and not let the defense rest.”
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