Running onto the court at Assembly Hall decked out in the crimson and cream candy-striped warmup pants as the band plays and the crowd goes wild. Playing for the Indiana Hoosiers is the dream of every boy in Indiana who has ever picked up a basketball and been raised on the virtues of Bob Knight and the bounce pass.
Jerrick Suiter had a chance to live that dream. Despite being an all-Duneland Conference basketball player as a sophomore and junior at Valparaiso (Ind.) High, it was Suiter’s baseball talents that almost landed him on the end of the Hoosiers’ bench.
While baseball coach Tracy Smith was recruiting Suiter to play for Indiana, basketball coach Tom Crean offered him a chance to walk on to the basketball team. It was stunning. It was tempting. It was a dream come true.
“It was kind of shocking really,” Suiter said. “I didn’t think I was that good.”
As tempting as the offer was for Suiter, it still wasn’t enough to keep Indiana’s best high school baseball player in the state. Suiter, a righthander and catcher, signed with Texas Christian to play baseball and walk on to the football team. After being an all-Duneland Conference safety for Valparaiso the last two years, Suiter would likely move to wide receiver for the Horned Frogs.
He would have preferred to play basketball as his second sport in college, but after playing a pickup game at Indiana, Suiter realized the transition from 6-foot-4 center to shooting guard would be rather difficult.
And turning down the chance to play baseball, his best sport, and football at a school that went to the College World Series and won the Rose Bowl last year was too hard.
“It’s an amazing feeling knowing I’m going to that school,” Suiter said.
Because of Suiter’s multi-sport prowess, it only makes sense he is talented enough to play multiple positions at TCU. Coach Jim Schlossnagle said Suiter will be a two-way player for the Horned Frogs, though he isn’t sure if Suiter’s second position will be in the outfield or behind the plate.
“We for sure want him to pitch,” Schlossnagle said. “He’s such a good athlete. It’s all relative to his arm and how well he bounces back from pitching.”
Suiter’s arm certainly stands out. His fastball already touches 93 mph, and even with a 6-foot-4, 215 pound frame, there is projection left.
Where he plays on the field for the Frogs isn’t a big concern for Suiter right now.
“Honestly, it really doesn’t matter to me as long as it’s getting me to the bigs eventually,” he said.
Suiter’s commitment to TCU will likely be tested again in June following the MLB Draft. He ranked as Baseball America's No. 64 high school prospect coming into the season after catching the eye of scouts at last summer’s Area Code Games and the Under Armor All-America Game. Suiter said 15-20 baseball scouts even came to his basketball games this season as he led Valparaiso High School to a 15-8 record and sectional championship.
The draft has been a subject of discussion in the Suiter household, but with it so far away, they remain in wait-and-see mode.
“It’s been on my mind a lot and my parents have talked about it with me,” Suiter said. “If it happens, it happens. I’m not sure what the decision is, we’ll have to see when the time comes.”