CJ Gunn. Photo by Mike Schumann, The Daily Hoosier

IU basketball recruiting: 2022 guard C.J. Gunn finishes AAU season strong, hearing from IU regularly

It has been a good summer for class of 2022 in-state guard C.J. Gunn.

There has been a high major offer, entry into the national rankings, and just generally a lot of buzz surrounding his name.

But it has been an unusual summer too.

With travel restrictions during the pandemic and national AAU circuits canceled, no one got to see Gunn go head-to-head against top competition.  How would he fare when the lights got a little brighter?

Finally last weekend Gunn’s 2022 Indy Heat squad faced Indiana Elite at the Battle of the Brands in Noblesville, Ind.

Gunn rose to the occasion — and the good summer continued.

For Gunn, it was an opportunity he had been waiting for.

“It felt good.  I love competition,” Gunn told The Daily Hoosier when asked about the chance to play against better talent.

One thing that stood out about Gunn’s performance was that he seemed to play with more of an edge.  Facing one of the other top in-state shooting guards, Gunn looked dialed in.

“I love being competitive and having someone bring that fire out in me,” Gunn said.  “That’s what I really love.  This was obviously our last time playing this summer, so it was great to show everybody and hopefully they are looking forward to watching me this season.”

Gunn was matched up with highly talented Jeffersonville shooting guard Will Lovings-Watts for much of the afternoon.  Gunn and Lovings-Watts are likely the two best class of 2022 shooting guards in the state of Indiana.  Who claims the top spot wasn’t settled in one weekend, but Gunn more than held his own in what was a fun and highly competitive matchup.

Gunn defending Will Lovings-Watts.  Photo by Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

The 6-foot-5 Gunn also learned a thing or two about where he needs to direct his attention as the focus now returns to training.

“I learned that I’ve really got to work on my conditioning,” Gunn told The Daily Hoosier.  “This is a long game and if your conditioning is not right then your body is not going to perform at as high of a level as it supposed to.”

Gunn’s strong summer has caught the attention of more than a dozen high major programs.  Ranked No. 116 nationally by 247Sports, Gunn holds an offer from Kansas State and hears regularly from other high majors including Missouri, Cincinnati, Ohio State, and California.

IU has made it clear that they have strong interest as well.

“I talk to Coach (Archie) Miller every week, and I talk to (IU assistant) Coach (Tom) Ostrom,” Gunn said.

Indiana hosted Gunn and his family for a lengthy Zoom virtual visit.  Gunn’s father, Christopher said it was one of the best that they have been a part of.

For the younger Gunn, the vibe that he got from the IU coaching staff during that meeting stood out.

“Just the chemistry.  It seemed like the coaches really cared about me,” Gunn said.  “Just that they even took time out of their day to give me a Zoom call.  It just feels amazing that they have me on their radar.”

Indiana has not offered Gunn a scholarship to this point.  The recent message from Miller has been for Gunn to focus on staying sharp and becoming more of a leader now that he is an upperclassman.

“My mentality,” Gunn said when quizzed on what IU has been encouraging  him to focus on. “Even if I’m not having a good game just to always encourage my teammates and make the right basketball decisions.”

The IU staff no doubt liked what they saw from Gunn over the weekend.  He was dialed-in on defense and made things difficult for Lovings-Watts at times.  Gunn was also more verbal and fiery than what we had seen after watching him play several times this summer.

Those are all traits that will serve Gunn well as he looks to have a breakout junior season at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis.

More of a role player in the shadow of Mr. Basketball finalist Tony Perkins, Gunn contributed 7.1 points and 2.5 rebounds as a sophomore.

Gunn wants to transition from a catch-and-shoot threat to a complete player on both ends that can score at all three levels and become a defensive stopper.  His progression this summer during less than ideal conditions makes that jump seem likely.

But of course he isn’t taking that for granted.  His AAU season now complete, Gunn is getting back to work.

“I’ve got workouts with school ball two times a week, so I’m in the weight room,” Gunn said.  “I’m in with M-14 Hoops here (Finch Creek Fieldhouse) two times a week too, and I train with (former IU football player Courtney) Roby too at Sparx Athletic Training, so that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”

It may not have been the summer that Gunn or anyone else envisioned.

But it was a good summer for Gunn.

And he just might be the kind of player best suited to rise above the rest under these conditions.

“People might not enjoy training, but I’d rather do that more than anything else,” Gunn said.

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