Loveland power forward Robert Capobianco and his teammates on the Indiana Elite One are on top of the world right now.
In the span of roughly a week, Indiana Elite One went deep in a pair of AAU basketball tournaments. The team reached the quarterfinals of the 17-and-under division at the It Takes 5ive event at the University of Cincinnati. Then, Indiana Elite One moved down I-75 to take the tournament title at the Kentucky Hoopfest. That win was coupled with previous tournament wins at the adidas May Classic and the Pittsburgh Jam Fest.
The 6-7 Capobianco has already made a verbal commitment to new Indiana coach Tom Crean. He plans on signing with the Hoosiers in the early signing period in November.
And even though he has his college future set in stone, he enjoys the AAU circuit because of the competition.
“It’s what it’s worth,” said Capobianco, rated as Ohio’s No. 4 prospect in the 2009 class by Ohio High magazine. “High school is always kind of a toss-up because you have to play with kids where you live and who goes to what school. It’s nice to come out here and play against the best competition and know you are making yourself better.”
As Capobianco sorted out his college choices, he had offers from Indiana, Marquette and West Virginia. When Crean moved from Marquette to Indiana, it became a no-brainer. He verbaled to IU on April 17 — shortly after Crean’s hiring.
“I was real big on him at Marquette and then when he came to Indiana it was just like a perfect situation,” Capobianco said. “It’s him. I am confident in him. He has proven he can do great things with a program. I think if you give him a year or two I think it will be back to prominence as a top program.”
The Indiana program has been reeling from mass defections, the ouster of coach Kelvin Sampson and possible NCAA sanctions for alleged recruiting violations. But in his short time in Bloomington, Crean has done his best to put a positive spin on the rebuilding process.
“It’s good that he’s allowed to leave campus with all the sanctions,” Capobianco said. “It is good to know they are supportive. I talk to the staff there quite often and they always have good things to say.”
At IU, Capobianco will join another Ohio product in Lakewood St. Edward forward Tom Pritchard, who will be a freshman this coming year.
“I actually hung out with Tom last week,” Capobianco said. “I went over and played open gym with all of their guys. I didn’t know him before, but I have now met him and he seems like a good guy.”
Capobianco has enjoyed two fine seasons as a varsity player at Loveland. As a sophomore, he averaged 19.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. Last year, he averaged 21.2 points and 11.8 rebounds a game in earning second-team All-Southwest District honors in Division II.
“Being a senior, it has come real fast,” Capobianco said. “But it will be a lot of fun. Another guy on our team, Brian Wozniak, just committed to Wisconsin to play football. With us being seniors, I think we can look for a good year this year.”
At 6-7, Capobianco feels at home at power forward. But he knows he could also get a chance to play some on the wing with Indiana.
“Right now, I feel like I am a four,” he said. “But I think as I get quicker and become more athletic and just work on the skills of being a three, I think I can play on the wing because of how well I can shoot the ball. Right now, I would say I am a four. But I think I can play on the wing if I just work on things.”
Other members of Capobianco’s Indiana Elite One team include Duke-bound center Mason Plumlee and power forward Stephan Van Treese of Indiana. Plumlee missed these last two events while competing with USA Basketball.
“We’re missing a couple of our guys who are playing on the USA 18-and-under team,” Capobianco said. “But I feel like we have one of the best teams in the country on any night when we play together. I feel good about our team.”
Indiana Elite One will round out its summer in Las Vegas by playing in the Super 64 event.