GVSU hoops builds Indiana pipeline
Four Laker starts hail from similar Indiana backgrounds
GVL / Emily Frye Junior guard Taylor Lutz on Nov. 19th.
What is a Hoosier? A quick Internet search shows that the famous Indiana mascot is “a native or inhabitant of Indiana,” but provides no actual details on the origin of the most culturally significant word in the state.
While the definition of a Hoosier may never be solidified, the Grand Valley State women’s basketball team knows exactly what it has with four players — Taylor Lutz, Taylor Parmley, Lindsay Baker and Brionna Barnett — who all hail from the Hoosier state.
“I think Indiana kids, just in general, are great kids to recruit,” said GVSU associate head coach Phil Sayers. “Their basketball IQ is off the charts, and it’s a different breed down there in Indiana than what it is in a lot of other states.”
The four Hoosiers have provided a big lift for the Lakers this season. Lutz and Barnett start at the two guard spots, while Parmley and Baker play solid minutes off of the bench.
It all started in Mishawaka, Indiana, where the four players played for the same Amateur Athletic Union team while in high school, the Midwest Basketball Academy Select. Parmley is from Mishawaka, and the others were nearby.
“We all had the same goal s— coming in the gym, shooting early, winning as many games as we can,” Barnett said. “We traveled together, so that was fun.”
Although they were teammates in AAU, high school was a different story.
Lutz attended Penn High School, which is the archrival of Mishawaka High School, where Parmley attended.
“They always beat us every time,” Parmley said. “Everyone on my team is like, ‘you have to hate (Lutz)!," and I said ‘but she’s so nice! You just really need to meet her!”
Even if Penn always won, Lutz said the games were close, and fondly recalls defending her current teammate with bragging rights on the line.
“Parm was their star player, so we all had to have all our eyes on her,” Lutz said. “I actually had to guard her my senior year. It was my job to makes sure she didn’t get many touches.”
Coincidentally, Barnett and Baker also played at rival high schools — Barnett at Elkhart High School, and Baker at Warsaw High School. But Baker says it’s a game against Lutz’s Penn during her senior year she remembers most, when Warsaw upset the defending state champs.
“We played Penn, beat Penn, and you would’ve thought we won the national championship the gym got so hype,” Baker said.
Fast forward to the present, and all four former rivals and AAU teammates play on the same squad.
“When we were on the court in high school, it was a dogfight,” Baker said. “Now, when somebody kicks it to me when I hit the open three, I can point back at them and say, ‘great pass,’ instead of, ‘in your face!’”
Lutz got to GVSU first, having committed during high school. Parmley followed a year later. Barnett and Baker both transferred in for the 2014 season. Barnett transferred after a stint at Wisconsin-Green Bay, and Baker from Toledo after one year.
Early in Parmley's GVSU career, Sayers mentioned that Baker had confirmed her transfer to GVSU. Soon after, word came out that Barnett was coming. Parmley jokingly suggested GVSU just recruit Indiana kids in the future.
So, what exactly does the Indiana quartet bring to GVSU? Lutz leads the team in assists and minutes played. Barnett averages 10.1 points per game, and is right behind Lutz in assists and minutes. Baker leads the team in 3-point field goals, and Parmley leads the team in offensive boards.
That production, in part, has helped GVSU achieve a 14-4 record so far this season, and be slated in a tie for second in the GLIAC. The Lakers are currently in the midst of a five-game winning streak.
Sayers, who recruited all four and is responsible for recruiting from the state, said the relationship between the impact each player brings and where they’re from is no accident.
“Indiana kind of has more limitations than other states,” he said. “I think that’s kept them to be more of a skill-developed state, than just, ‘go play a bunch of games.’ I think you see that carry over in the way our kids play. A lot of those Indiana kids are the ones that have the ball in their hands a lot. We’re trying to keep (Indiana) a pipeline.”
Through it all, the biggest takeaway the four have is how much the strength of their relationship has grown since they were reunited at GVSU. They believe that bond affects them off and on the court.
“Our whole team is close, but it is kind of joke like, ‘oh, the Indiana kids…'” Baker said. “I just think it’s really neat to see the bond that we have, especially with knowing people previously. It’s comfortable. It’s home.”
Hoosiers are playing a huge role in Allendale, and will continue to help the GVSU women’s basketball program.
Still no idea as to what a Hoosier actually is? You’ll have to excuse the name.
It’s an Indiana thing.