Whether it’s dunks he may not have been able to pull off, or his records that may ultimately be broken, Calbert Cheaney recognizes that things change.
But not everything.
The Evansville, Ind. native was back in Bloomington as a special guest of the IU program at the 2019 Hoosier Hysteria event, and Cheaney made it clear that his affection for the Indiana program is unwavering.
“I just love showing support for the program,” Cheaney said on Saturday night after Hoosier Hysteria. “It never gets old. I’ve been removed from Indiana because of graduation for 25 or 26 years but I always want to come back because the program is very, very important to me and I just want to help out in any way I can.”
Cheaney judged the dunk contest during Hoosier Hysteria, and IU freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis put on a No. 40 jersey as a tribute to the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer.
“That’s a tremendous gesture,” Cheaney said about Jackson-Davis wearing his old jersey number. “I appreciate him and everything. I’m not sure that I would have been able to do that kind of dunk.”
Jackson-Davis won the dunk contest, and with highly touted players like him Cheaney is optimistic about the direction of the program under third year head coach Archie Miller.
“I think he’s (Miller) done a great job recruiting kids within the state, but at the same time he does a great job recruiting in general,” Cheaney said.
“It’s just a matter of him getting the kids he wants, and then we can go from there. But I think he’s done a good job to this point, and hopefully this season will be an indicator of that.”
Cheaney pointed to Miller’s acumen with defense and player development as aspects of the program that have stood out to him thus far.
The former unanimous All-American and Naismith/Wooden player of the year is currently an assistant coach with the College Park Skyhawks in the NBA’s G-League, and he is keen on player development.
When quizzed on the underpinnings of improving as a player, Cheaney brought to mind visions of an unheralded recruit out of Evansville Harrison High School that went on to greatness.
Cheaney was somewhat of an afterthought as part of a highly touted 1989 recruiting class for IU, but he quickly worked his way into a leading role on the team.
“There’s no secret formula for getting better except for good old fashioned hard work and work ethic,” Cheaney said.
“You gotta get out there and work on your game.”
Cheaney’s accomplishments on the court saw him end up with 2,613 points. He has stood on top of the Big Ten scoring mountain for more than a quarter century, but has seen his share of close calls when it comes to surpassing that mark.
Purdue’s Carsen Edwards would have had a good chance to top Cheaney had he returned for his senior season in West Lafayette this year. Edwards is now with the Boston Celtics along with one-and-done Hoosier Romeo Langford.
“I guess it (the record) stands for one more year at least,” Cheaney said.
It isn’t lost on Cheaney that the current state of college basketball has given him an assist with holding the record for so long.
“Somebody will get there, but with the current state of the league right now with everybody leaving after one year, especially the higher tier players, but I’m sure there’s somebody out there that will have a shot at it,” he added.
As much as he is known for accomplishments in the record books, Cheaney is beloved at IU for his work ethic, for being a great teammate, and being a winner.
Cheaney believes the team aspect might be the biggest factor for IU going into the 2019-20 season.
“I think he’s (Miller) got some guys out there that really want to get better not only as individuals but as a team,” Cheaney said.
“We all know that team chemistry is huge at any level of basketball,” Cheaney added. “If he can get that going then everything will be in good shape.”
However things go this year, Cheaney is in it for the long haul with this IU program.
“Archie said they have a chance to build a special team and I look forward to seeing that. I’m always going to be a supporter of this Indiana program.”
The dunks may be flashier today, and one day his records may fall.
But being a good teammate never goes out of style, and Cheaney plans to continue to do whatever he can in that regard.
“I’m going to be a supporter of Archie and this staff and everybody that’s associated with it.”
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