Maroons' Khailieo Terry adds to his highlight reel

Maroons' Khailieo Terry adds to his highlight reel

CHAMPAIGN — Khailieo Terry went viral.


Video of a two-handed reverse dunk off an alley oop by the Champaign Central freshman last weekend drew serious Twitter engagement. As of Friday afternoon it had been viewed more than 100,000 times with the tweet itself favorited nearly 2,000 times to go with almost 800 retweets.

It's simply what Terry does. His prodigious athleticism was on display all winter for Central, where he averaged 12.7 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Maroons as the only freshman starter among a senior-heavy lineup.

Now he's showing it off on a more national stage playing with the Indy Heat's 15U team.

Terry's not just a highlight-reel dunker. Or simply confined to operating around the basket. He didn't have to do it all for Central last season — the benefit of playing on a strong team — but he's been able to show off more parts of his game this spring for the Indy Heat.

"I knew he was a pretty athletic potential wing, but I've been pleasantly surprised with his skill set and his ability to play the game," Indy Heat director Todd Hensley said. "He's been able to play at a high level. Obviously, with younger players there's always things they can work on with their game. If he continues to refine his skill set, he's got a chance to be a good player at the high-major level.

"The athleticism he has is unbelievable. With that, it enables him to guard multiple positions, which is very valuable at all levels of the game."

Terry's potential as a defender has stuck out to Hensley in the short time he's worked with the Central freshman. It's what could set him apart from similar Class of 2021 prospects in the coming years.

"I think it's a huge advantage he has over other players at his position," Hensley said. "A lot of the conversation with players is they can score from that position but they can't necessarily guard it. He can guard a guard, but with his body build and athleticism he can guard the post with switches. It's a huge asset."

Both Hensley and Central coach Jeff Finke project Terry as a wing. Finke worked with Terry on that particular skill set this past season, but the 6-foot-4 freshman was never going to have to do it all for the Maroons.

Finke didn't want to put too much pressure on Terry in his first season of varsity basketball.

"You want to put them in positions to succeed and keep their confidence level high and continue to build," Finke said. "We didn't have to put him on the best player, and he wasn't necessarily ever guarded by the best player. It allowed him to play a little more freely than the pressure of, 'Hey, we need 20 and 10 every game and you've got to go guard the best player.'

"Because of that, I thought our situation was a really great fit for him to allow his confidence to explode and not to get frustrated because high school coaches were planning to take him out. We had so many offensive weapons they couldn't focus on him, and it allowed him to get free and do his thing."

Terry's expanded role with the Indy Heat is similar to the role he'll take for the Maroons next season. Central will regroup May 29 and spend the month of June seeing how the team looks without seniors Tim Finke, A'Kieon Gill, Jonte Coleman and Jaden Aikens. Terry will be asked to score from all three levels and handle the ball more.

"He's expanded his role, which is what he has to do for us next year being more of a face-up player and being more of a primary defender," Finke said. "We play a pretty position-less, more modern game with five out, read-and-react motion. Even though he scored most of his points and took most of his shots around the rim, all of our guys touched the ball on the perimeter. Next year it's going to be his place to make a lot of plays for us."

Terry's recruitment is still in the earliest stage, and he's drawn some interest from college programs. Hensley said he would expect Terry's recruitment to pick up more this summer.

"At 15U, there's not a ton of coaches watching games," Hensley said. "In the spring, coaches are really working hard on their '19 class and some of the '20 class. I think in July you'll see them creeping out and seeing some of the 2021s."