Photo by Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

IU basketball offers 2023 PG Gabe Cupps, a coach’s son: ‘He just does what you need him to do’

Gabe Cupps was one of the names that was passed on from the Archie Miller coaching administration at Indiana to the Mike Woodson administration. He’d caught the eye of staff members who stayed on, including recruiting coordinator Brian Walsh, and they passed him on to the new staff members as someone to follow.

They had some reason to be skeptical, considering Cupps is listed at 6-foot-2, 165 pounds but played this season at around 145. But after finally getting to watch the point guard from Centerville (Ohio) High School in person in June, the Hoosiers saw a floor leader who seemed to always make the right decision and offered the Class of 2023 recruit a scholarship Tuesday.

“It means a lot because they’re a really good school with a rich basketball history,” Cupps said by phone Tuesday night. “They just like how I control the pace of a game and that I have a leadership quality that I can lead a team and help teams win. They just think I can overall help a team succeed and help a team get better.”

Cupps proved that in 2020-21 by leading Centerville to the state championship in Ohio’s Division I. He averaged 15.2 points, 4.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game while making 35 percent of his 3-pointers on 116 attempts and 82 percent of his free throws. According to his father Brook Cupps, who his also his coach at both Centerville and with the Midwest Basketball Club 17U squad, Gabe posted an assist to turnover ratio of close to 5-to-1.

The performance was an indicator that, already, Cupps has a sense of how to direct traffic and how to do whatever it is his team needs at a given point in time on either end of the floor.

“He just does what you need him to do,” the elder Cupps said of his son. “He sets the tone for us defensively. He’s willing and able to pressure the ball. This past season, he took about 45 charges. You can say, ‘Gabe, go rebound,’ he rebounds. Offensively, he just makes the right play. Sometimes it’s shooting, sometimes it’s passing, sometimes it’s swinging it. One of the things that that makes him good is that he makes the right play a lot of times, which just helps your team. He’s kind of over the stats thing. He doesn’t worry about scoring 20 a game. He measures everything by winning. When you can release yourself of that, it allows him to play the game completely different.”

This summer, Cupps wants to continue building on that and connect with his teammates on the Midwest Basketball Club on the Adidas circuit as well as he does his high school teammates. He also wants to continue a physical transformation. He’s up to 160 pounds from a playing weight of about 145 and is seeing gains in the weight room. The goal, he and his father said, is for him to get up to 180 pounds by the time he finishes his senior year.

“If he’s going to play high-major basketball, he’s never going to be the biggest or most athletic,” Brook Cupps said. “He’s going to have to be strong to be able to take bumps and be able to change speeds and be able to create space for himself. Physically, that’s a big deal for him. He works hard in the weight room. He lifts. He definitely works hard on his body and understands that.”

Gabe Cupps said he can notice a difference even since the start of the offseason. He’s setting constant personal records on the bench press, the squat rack and other lifts, and he’s noticing on the floor the difference that can make.

“I just feel like I have more control,” Cupps said. “I just feel like people can’t influence as much and get up on me and ride me and force me off my path that I’m going on. I think I would want to get to 180 around there. I think that would be a good weight for me to still be athletic and be able to move and be stronger at the same time.”

Cupps isn’t rated in the Composite Rankings yet, but he likely will be after the July evaluation period and his offer sheet is starting to lengthen. Along with Indiana, he has offers from Ohio State, Clemson, Cincinnati, Kansas State, Xavier, Brown, Dayton, Charleston  and Miami (Ohio). His father said he’ll be looking to take visits in August and Clemson and Indiana will be priorities

“We’ll probably go to a few places in August,” Brook Cupps said. “We just want to expose him to everything to kind of have a good feel. To be honest, it’s not about the campuses, it’s more about being around the coaches. That will be the biggest factor for him. How he feels with those people.”

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