Transferring from Bedford North Lawrence to Crothersville High School his junior year, Eli Mollet didn’t let his dream of playing college basketball die with a change in scenery.
The Tigers senior fit right in at his new community, quickly became the best player on the team and immediately got time on the floor.
He now acts as the centerpiece for the Tigers’ 2015-16 squad.
This past week, Mollet signed to continue playing hoops at Indiana University Kokomo.
“It’s a really big deal for Eli and us at Crothersville,” Tigers boys basketball coach Greg Kilgore said. “You can see some of the other boys getting excited for him. They see that someone can play beyond our high school. He’s an exceptional athlete and student — carrying a 3.7 GPA.”
Mollet said that Crothersville welcomed him and his family from the start.
“I feel like this team really accepted me,” Mollet said. “It’s not always easy being the new kid. Crothersville has been great. Everyone made me feel welcome.”
The senior gets it done on and off the court.
Three days a week, Mollet goes to Austin High School to take college courses through Ivy Tech Community College.
Before earning his high school diploma, Mollet will have an associate’s degree from Ivy Tech.
“I’ve been talking to a lot of schools, and IU Kokomo kind of came out of nowhere,” Mollet said. “I met up with them and really liked their basketball program and the campus. I met with the administrators, and the community really buys into the school. It seems like a good program.”
Kilgore said that he doesn’t think a Tigers male athlete has signed a letter of intent since the 1980s.
“When we first sat him down and talked you could tell he was a leader,” Kilgore said. “I think that his rebounding and shooting will translate well to college ball. With his size he could make a pretty nice small forward. With us, he typically plays at a five since we’re small.”
Kokomo is a member of the NAIA’s Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Cougars coach Jace Thompson said that he first saw Mollet this past summer playing AAU travel basketball with the Southern Indiana Shock, which is based in Brownstown.
Thompson said the biggest factor in signing Mollet was his commitment to the team.
“We started getting in touch in the late summer time,” Thompson said. “We meet him in Bedford and had a good conversation with him. We thought it would be a good fit after he visited campus.
“We like (that) he’s a 6-foot-4 kid who can match up well at the three or four. We recruit high-IQ basketball players. We want our guys to be able to fit into our system.”
Mollet is the first athlete to sign to the Cougars for this recruiting season. Four other basketball players are entertaining offers to play at Kokomo.
“He fits the mold what we’re looking for,” Thompson said. “We don’t do too much investment in AAU, because we don’t play a one-on-one style. But when we found a team-guy in Eli, it made sense.”
He said that he has seen a handful of games and likes the style of play the Cougars exhibit.
“I bring shooting ability and am a hard worker,” Mollet said. “I will bring enthusiasm and a positive attitude. They’re a really good shooting team. You can tell there’s a lot of chemistry. The guys all bring each other up, which is something I really like.
“I love this game. It motivates me and takes things off my mind. It helps me get away.”
Academically, Mollet plans to study law.