Photo credit - IU Athletics

Rob Phinisee has named his top two schools, and who they are says a lot

You can breathe a little easier now.  You won’t have to awkwardly turn on Rob Phinisee next year.

When initial lists surfaced of the schools pursuing the former IU point guard out of the transfer portal, there they were:  The Purdue Boilermakers.

He couldn’t.  Right?

Leaving aside the obvious connection to his hometown, it was hard to believe Phinisee would seriously consider playing in West Lafayette.  For a player who has struggled with confidence throughout his college career, it seemed like the last thing he needed was the complexity of switching to the other side of the Purdue-IU rivalry, even making a return to Bloomington wearing a Purdue uniform.  It was all just too much to believe.

As it turns out, Phinisee has landed on two fairly logical options, and the mutual interest tells a pretty good story about the character of the young man.

Former IU staffer Thad Matta, and former assistant coach Mike Roberts don’t need you to remind them Phinisee is a career 35 percent shooter from the field.  They are well aware of his prolonged struggles shooting the basketball.

So the fact that Matta, now the head coach at Butler, and Roberts, now an assistant at Cincinnati, represent Phinisee’s two top schools should tell you a lot about who Phinisee is behind the scenes.

And it lines up with everything we’ve seen and heard about the McCutcheon H.S. product over the last four years.  Phinisee is a positive presence in the locker room, someone who plays with high-end effort, and of course you know he is a damn good defender.

There is just that little moment of uncertainty that can haunt Phinisee on the offensive end.  Archie Miller called it “worrying too much.”  His former AAU coach Mike Fox called it “waning confidence” and almost caring “too much.”

But there is no uncertainty from Matta and Roberts.  They know what he can bring them.  Miller put it best.

“We don’t need Rob, to be honest with you, to be anything other than try like crazy to be the leader on defense, push the ball, make guys better, shoot when you are open,” he said last year.

Maybe a change of scenery will be the trick to make those open shots finally fall on a consistent basis for Phinisee.  You know what it looks like when he has everything clicking.  So does Purdue.

But whether anything close to that happens again or not, his top two options of Butler and Cincinnati should have told you all you need to know about the man who hit two of the biggest game-winners for IU in the last decade.

And that he’ll be a Bulldog or Bearcat — and not a Boilermaker — should make pulling for him next season go from impossible to easy.


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