Bargesser answers when opportunity, IU women's basketball knock
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sports world in the spring and summer of 2020, it was an opportunity lost for some prospective college athletes.
It was an opportunity gained for Lexus Bargesser, who became the second commit in the 2022 recruiting class for the Indiana women's basketball team on Monday, joining Minnesota forward Lilly Meister.
The 5-foot-8 guard retreated to a building in the backyard known as The Barn. Except instead of livestock, inside is a gym with three basketball hoops.
"I spent countless hours shooting and working out when everything was closed," Bargesser said. "That really made my game take a leap. I improved so much working out and shooting more than I usually would with school and everything."
And when she got the chance to play again, colleges took notice, even if they couldn't attend AAU basketball tournaments in person.
"Streaming online helped me," said Bargesser, who already held a host of offers from the MAC as well as Horizon and Summit League. "It gave coaches the opportunity to watch when they couldn't have in-person because they could watch recorded games instead of missing my game to watch someone else.
"So with coaches watching all these teams on live streams, a bunch seemed to notice me and my stock went up."
Indiana was one of those, extending an offer in August along with multiple other teams from the Big Ten, ACC, and Big East with Kentucky and UCLA later joining the party.
Bargesser went out and proved those evaluations accurate in her junior season. She averaged 24.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.8 steals per game in leading Grass Lake to the Division 3 state championship and earning first team All-State honors in the process.
Family helps keep Bargesser on track
In some ways, such success was literally in Bargesser's DNA. She has two older brothers — Xavier is a sophomore basketball player at Alma College and Brennen is a freshman playing basketball and running track at Bethel University.
Just a year younger than Brennen, Lexus played on the same basketball team with him from third grade to sixth grade and they began running track together in middle school.
That decision paid major dividends as Lexus won the state championship in the 100 and 200 meters as a high school freshman. The pandemic eliminated her sophomore season in favor of time spent in The Barn, where she also worked on her vertical in an effort to keep up with her brothers' ability to dunk. She has found success with a ping-pong ball, is currently practicing with a tennis ball and has aspirations of dunking a basketball in college.
Back on the track as a junior, Lexus and Brennen ran into the history books this past spring. She not only repeated as state champ in the 100 (12.12) and 200 (25.30) but set a Division 3 state meet record by winning the 400 in 55.54. Lexus also anchored the 1,600-meter relay team that finished second at state while Brennen won the 100, 200 and 400 as well as anchoring the victorious 400 relay team. According to the MHSAA, they are the first brother and sister duo to claim multiple individual state titles at the same meet.
"It's cool to do something more individualized because basketball is a team sport," Lexus said. "It's a different side of sports I don't get with basketball, plus track helps with my competitiveness and I'm a sprinter so the speed has helped me tremendously on the court, getting past girls, running the court faster and my endurance has built up."
'I couldn't find a better school than Indiana'
When Bargesser wasn't leaving opponents in the dust on the track, she was watching the Hoosiers, among others, during last year's NCAA Tournament run.
"I watched a lot of IU because they were my top school and have been for a while," said the combo guard, who sees parts of her game in Ali Patberg and Grace Berger. "Their style truly fits my style of play."
So does IU's attitude and environment, as she found out in person with an unofficial in June and an official visit in mid-September.
Bargesser made one more official visit to Maryland and then decided she didn't need to take any more visits in order to choose Indiana over the North Carolina, Michigan and the Terps.
"My plan was to take two more official visits, since Indiana was my first official," she said. "I went to Maryland after that and then felt like I couldn't find a better school than Indiana."
That's because what sold Bargesser had little to do with facilities.
"It definitely is the people at Indiana," she said. "All the girls were so nice and really I bonded with them and connected a lot with similar interests.
"A lot of schools have the same stuff — equipment and all that. Just because everyone was similar in the basketball aspect, it was easy to decide on Indiana because I love the people and I think the coaches are pushing them to do good things and to have success."
That's where those workouts in The Barn come in. Bargesser is all about doing whatever it takes to reach her potential, and at IU she knows she won't be alone.
"It was enlightening how they talked about players shooting together before and after practice, doing extra work on their own," she said. "They don't feel forced to do it but they want to do it. To have people to do that with, I'm excited about."