Recruiting notebook: Indiana watches T.J. Leaf, visits Ryan Anderson

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Indiana’s recruiting efforts on the west coast over the weekend started in Arizona, but they didn’t end there.

After landing a commitment from 2014 center Jeremiah April of Westwind Prep on Friday night, Tom Crean made his way to El Cajon, California to watch one of the program’s top class of 2016 targets, T.J. Leaf.

Rated the No. 19 player nationally in the 247Composite, Leaf has already been on three unofficial visits to Bloomington and his father, Brad, was a standout at the University of Evansville.

Leaf averaged 27 points and 12 rebounds as a sophomore at Foothills Christian and has scholarship offers from Arizona, Gonzaga, Indiana, UCLA and several others.

Following his unofficial visit to Bloomington in September, Leaf spoke to Inside the Hall about that experience and how he could see himself fitting in at IU.

“It seems like I would fit really well in their system,” he said. “I like coach Crean and I like all of the coaches and what they’re doing there. I was just really impressed.”

Leaf’s other visits to Bloomington came in November for IU’s season opener against Chicago State and in January for IU’s Big Ten home opener against Michigan State.

On Saturday, Crean continued his west coast trip and made an in-home visit to Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson, who is from Lakewood, California.

The 6-foot-9, 216 pound forward, who averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game as a junior, has one year of eligibility remaining, but is expected to sit out the 2014-2015 season and play his final year in 2015-2016.

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Video: James Blackmon Jr. Jordan Brand Classic highlights

James Blackmon Jr. scored 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting for the East squad in its 158-147 win in Friday night’s Jordan Brand Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Watch his highlights in the embedded media player below:

Photo Gallery: Derby Festival Basketball Classic

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Check out 30 photos by Jamie Owens from Friday’s Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall featuring IU signees Max Hoetzel and Robert Johnson in the embedded photo gallery after the jump. Purchase prints from J. Scott Sports.

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Video: Hoetzel, Johnson talk Derby Festival Basketball Classic

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Future Indiana teammates Max Hoetzel and Robert Johnson were teammates in Friday’s 2014 Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall, falling 128-104 to a team featuring three University of Florida and three University of Louisville signees.

Hoetzel, who won the 3-point shootout at halftime, finished with 10 points and three rebounds and Johnson, who finished with 10 points, five rebounds and two assists, was named the game’s “fan-favorite” based on text message voting by the 5,518 fans in attendance.

Afterward, both IU signees talked about the experience and their futures in Bloomington with reporters:

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Class of 2014 center Jeremiah April commits to IU

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Indiana added a fourth member to its 2014 recruiting class on Friday night as Westwind Prep (Ariz.) Jeremiah April announced a commitment to the Hoosiers.

April, who also had offers from Arizona State, Marquette and Washington State, according to his high school coach, chose the Hoosiers after meeting with Tom Crean and associate head coach Steve McClain on Friday. He said the coaching staff played a major role in his decision to commit to Indiana.

“I got a good vibe from them and the goals they want to achieve,” April told Inside the Hall by phone.

A native of Joliet, Illinois, April said being closer to home also played a role in his decision as well as the program’s tradition. Westwind Prep Jai Steadman said April’s recruitment had picked up in recent weeks. He was originally a member of the 2013 class at Sunrise Joy Christian in Arizona, but returned for a postgrad season at Westwind Prep.

“Steve McClain did a great job with Jeremiah,” Steadman told Inside the Hall. “Their tradition, developing players, the conference, coach McClain did a great job of selling everything. Crean came in and finished the deal.”

Unranked by most of the national recruiting services, Steadman said April has improved offensively this season, but noted that his strength and conditioning will be key upon his arrival in Bloomington.

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Austin Etherington transferring to Butler

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Former Indiana wing Austin Etherington will finish his collegiate career at Butler, he announced today on his Twitter account.

Etherington averaged 2.0 points and 1.6 rebounds for the Hoosiers last season and chose the Bulldogs over Missouri State. His father, Bret, played at Butler from 1987-91.

The Hamilton Heights product originally came to Indiana in the 2011 class with Cody Zeller and Remy Abell.

He received a medical redshirt for the 2012-2013 season after suffering a broken left kneecap, which means he’ll have two years of eligibility remaining. Etherington plans to graduate in May and is expected to be eligible next season.

Indiana and Butler play next season on Dec. 20 in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Video: Interview with 2014 signee Max Hoetzel

FLOYDS KNOBS, Ind. — Class of 2014 forward Max Hoetzel wasn’t even a name on the IU radar last year at this time, but his recruitment took off after making the move from Calabasas (Calif.) to Wilbraham and Monson Academy (Mass.) for his senior season.

Hoetzel is in Louisville this week participating in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic and is a finalist in the event’s 3-point shootout tonight at Freedom Hall.

Inside the Hall caught up with Hoetzel on Thursday night at Floyd Central high school to discuss a variety of topics, including the quick ending to his recruitment last fall, the story of how IU became involved in his recruitment, how the move to Wilbraham helped him improve his game, how he believes he can help Indiana next season and much more:

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