Gage Bobe is used to hard work, transforming himself from a decent basketball player as a freshman to among the area's best as a senior.
The recent South Knox graduate is not ready to rest, having accepted a walk-on position for the University of Evansville on Tuesday.
The 6-1 point guard averaged a team-best 14.1 points per game for the 18-7 Spartans a year ago. Bobe shot an area-best 40 percent from 3-point range, making 62-of-154 attempts, and drilled an area-best seven 3-pointers in a game that included the buzzer-beater to nip North Daviess, 41-38 in the sectional semifinal. Coach David Burkett also noted that Bobe was his best backcourt defender.
He is the second from South Knox to play Division I basketball, joining Mitchell Patton (IUPUI).
Bobe said that he knows it's a big jump from the Spartans to the Purple Aces, but is ready to take the leap.
"It's something I dreamed of. It was always a goal of mine to play Division I basketball. It's a dream come true," Bobe said. "I'm excited to start there. I have to thank God, my teammates, my family for helping me get to where I am. I'm excited for this new chapter."
Schools such at Bethel, Hanover and Lindenwood (Mo.) were interested in Bobe, but the guard had his sights set higher.
"Playing at South Knox, there was always a good crowd and that made it exciting," Bobe said. "Playing at UE and at the Ford Center, that's going to be a bigger fan base (than Division II and III schools). Division I is just different. You have a trainer working with you on your game. I think it's going to be fun.
"Their style of play fits mine. There was just something there that drew me to it."
Bobe is going to receive a partial scholarship from the university. He carried a 3.8 grade-point average in high school and plans to major in business. He also plans to put a lot more into his basketball game, something he's already invested a lot of time in.
"When I was a freshman, I was just on the freshman team and didn't play any junior varsity," Bobe said. "So I've always had to work hard to succeed. I've tried to put as much time in as I can in basketball. I always thought the more time I put in, the better I was going to be overall and separate myself from others.
"Now I'm going to have to do it at a bigger school, and I'm up to the challenge," he said. "I know I need to work on everything, but I know I have to get bigger and stronger and keep working on my shooting."
Bobe reports to Evansville on June 10 for workouts and summer school. Practices begin in July as the coach Walter McCarty-led squad has a European trip this summer for multiple games. Bobe said it's going to be the first time he has been out of the United States.
South Knox coach David Burkett, who has been longtime friends with UE assistant coach Matthew Graves, said Bobe has a good opportunity ahead of him with the rebuilding Aces. McCarty, an Evansville Harrison grad who helped the University of Kentucky to a National Championship in 1996 before enjoying a 10-year NBA career, was 11-21 in his first season with the Aces last year and 5-13 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
"Gage is a late bloomer. He's gotten a lot stronger, and he has another inch or two in him to grow," Burkett said. "He can shoot the ball and is going to set a good standard for UE and the community. Gage has an opportunity to play down there a little bit. They had a walk-on last year who played quite a bit. It's a good situation."