Max Hoetzel hears from IU as his recruitment takes off

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About three weeks ago, Wilbraham and Monson (Mass.) Academy student Max Hoetzel was at study hall when his basketball coach, Chris Sparks, and Indiana assistant Kenny Johnson walked into the room.

They came with a simple message: Indiana head coach Tom Crean was on campus, and he wanted to see Hoetzel work out. Crean and Johnson were originally on campus to watch Goodluck Okonoboh before he travelled to Ohio State and UNLV, but Sparks had convinced Crean to watch Hoetzel.

After all, Sparks knew IU had needed a shooter for the 2014 class. And he had one in the 6-foot-7 Hoetzel.

Sparks and Johnson had cleared Hoetzel to practice with school administrators by the time they confronted him at study hall. He then left for the gym and practiced under Crean’s watchful eye. It was the first contact Hoetzel had with IU’s coaching staff.

“It was such a humbling experience, I mean, coach Crean is a big deal,” Hoetzel said. “But on the other hand, you can’t really think about it. You just gotta do what you do.”

Three months before then, though, Hoetzel had no idea he would soon be talking to one of the top programs in the nation.

An under-recruited forward, Hoetzel was going into his senior year at Calabasas (Calif.) High School with offers from Utah, Utah State, Pacific, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, Boise State and Davidson, among others.

But then, Hoetzel had learned his parents were planning on moving to the Santa Barbara area. Instead of starting fresh at another high school, he decided to attend a preparatory school. He originally thought of attending Oak Hill Academy, but his AAU coach, Christian Aurand, recommended Wilbraham and Monson. After all, they needed a player at the small forward position this season and Hoetzel fit that description.

Hoetzel announced he’d be attending WMA in early August, and since arriving in Wilbraham as a reclassified member of the 2015 class with the option of graduating in 2014 as well, his recruitment has taken off.

“You always have to play at a high level at all times here,” Hoetzel said. “At Calabasas, I could sometimes go through the motions at practice and stuff. But you know, I’m really being pushed out here and it’s a good thing. It’s paying dividends right now.

“I knew my recruitment might take off probably around when Florida started talking to me.”

At WMA, Hoetzel has had the opportunity to take advantage of his “live in the gym” mentality. Since tearing an ACL during his sophomore year of high school and having a subsequent meniscus surgery, Hoetzel said he feels as if he has had to work extra hard to get to where he is now.

He’s already improved on his biggest strengths — shooting, driving to the basket and his defense — and he’s also started to combat his weaknesses with Sparks’ help.

“Coach Sparks has a lot of great workouts and he’s coached at the college level, so he knows what it takes,” Hoetzel said. “He really believes in me, so that’s also a great factor. When you have someone who really believes in you, it makes the whole thing easier. If you work hard, you get what you deserve.”

“He’s a lot like a Chandler Parsons type,” Sparks said. “I’d compare him to Kyle Korver too, but that’d be selling him short on his athletic ability. He’s a great kid.”

Though Hoetzel has yet to play in a single game this season, he has already received additional offers from St. John’s, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. Florida, Iowa State and Harvard have expressed significant interest, and even Kansas has called Sparks recently to ask about him.

But Hoetzel’s contact with Indiana has stood out. Though IU has yet to extend an offer, since the day Crean and Johnson observed his workout, Hoetzel and Johnson have exchanged texts each other “about every day.” Johnson has spoken to both Hoetzel’s parents. And Crean plans on returning to WMA to watch Hoetzel, possibly as early as this week.

The Hoosiers are recruiting him for 2014, and Hoetzel said he would be ready for the challenge.

“I would really, really consider it, especially since it’s Indiana,” Hoetzel said. “The past, the program, the coaching, I’d definitely really consider it. But it’s all about the fit. I want to come in somewhere where I can really play and exploit my strengths. If that does happen with IU, it will be wonderful.”

  • SCHoosier

    Can we legally recruit kids who don’t shave yet??:)

  • Kyl470

    Anytime you read that the other schools recruiting him are Davidson, Utah, and Utah St., it’s going to be tough to get excited about a kid. But I’m sure there are people on this cite who will now cry Oladipo wasn’t highly recruited (although at least Maryland tried to get him). So I’m guessing in 3 years this kid will be the number 2 pick in the NBA draft. (sarcastic voice)

  • jimmygoiu

    max kinda reminds me of Nic Stauskus of Michigan. He sure has great release on his shot. He will be a solid player at high level D1.

  • CreanFaithful

    I think most would “cry” that CTC knows what he is doing. He hasn’t offered the kid yet, but if he does, there is a reason for it.

  • Hoosier heritage

    I like what I see. We are going to have a lot of play makers for the next couple years, We need a spot up shooter.

  • Earl Scheib

    Max looks pretty darn smooth. Great quick release and seems to have that ethereal quality that all great shooters have. I can definitely see him playing for the Hoosiers. His size plus that shooting touch would be a great asset. Reel him in CTC!

  • HoosierTrav

    Reminds me of a taller Nick Stauskas. Not very athletic but has a knack for scoring in different ways. Also shoots lights out.

  • IUMIKE1

    Agree on the last part of your comment, but at the same time I hope I’m / we are wrong.

  • HoosierTrav

    I’m convinced that some people just want to have Crean fired. He’s recruited 3 AA’s (5 w/ Luke Fischer (Parade), adn Troy Williams (Jordan)), won a B1G outright title, has taken us to back to back sweet 16′s, and continues to make the roster situation work out EVERY.YEAR……. Yet people freak out constantly. At this point, you are the ones making yourselves look like fools. How about sit back and relax bc CC’s got this?

  • IUMIKE1

    And do you remember the situation those 3 years. Evidently not or you wouldn’t have made a comment like you did.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I’m not claiming he’ll end up anything like Oladipo (or Sheehey, another under-recruited guy who has developed into an All-Big Ten type player) and I wish others would stop with the “he has Oladipo like qualities” stuff. However, when listing the schools who were previously recruiting Hoetzel, you neglected to mention Florida and Kansas have also expressed interest. Those are elite programs so it’s not like the Hoosiers are the only ones who like what this kid has to offer.

  • drewheck

    Exactly what I was thinking but we have to give the kid his credit almost everyone on here’s dogging him from the video he looks like a solid scorer and possibly not such a bad pickup if DR doesn’t come through.

  • Corey Dunigan

    CTC recruits with his eyes not the coaching staffs of Davidson, Utah or UNC for the matter.

    People had similar thoughts about Tum Tum. The bottom line is that it behooves our coaching staff to recruits kids that they don’t think are worth it. The coaching staff warrants a kid being labeled as an “Indiana Caliber” kit not bloggers.

    Indiana has a professional coaching staff. This is what they do for a living so lets be honest about the situation at hand because most of us (including myself) know very little about the intricacies of D1 recruitment and scouting.

    Any reason people on this site would not cry Oladipo? Was he not ranked #147 out of high school? Was he not drafted 2nd? Just because it is repeated does not mean it should be discounted due to continuous use.

    I respect your opinion but don’t agree with it at all.

  • Walton

    I like that comparison. Sign him up

  • Walton

    the next Will Sheehey with a better shot

  • ADegenerate

    Stupid comment. Of course I understood the situation. It was regards to Creans recruiting. It can be improved although he’s great at it. Cal took UK to the Elite 8 his first year so I understand the power of recruiting and signing elite talent. This kid isn’t elite and I don’t want him.

  • CheesyHoosier

    I think this might be news to some, but not every player is Victor.

  • CheesyHoosier

    As an elite program we should try to recruit players than can come in and benefit as fast as they can. Usually these players are ranked in the top 100-150. I trust what Crean’s doing, but we would never have thought of Max if Blackmon, etc. were on board for this class. I am 100% behind the idea of recruiting character over talent, but to show interest in a 2-star like this after its obvious you missed on other talent shows that he’s a third or fourth option.

  • CheesyHoosier

    Well I’m sure not a scout, but Rivals, ESPN, and others usually scout pretty well and he isn’t a blip on their radar.

  • ADegenerate

    Apparently if you mention UK while making a valid argument they delete your posts. Stay classy moderators.

  • Hoosier Brews62

    You must be a troll. Any true Hoosier an would not make a comment like that

  • Outoftheloop

    When you get to Larry Bird or Robbie Hummel SIGN the kid!

  • Outoftheloop

    How about Randy Whitman? Brian Evans? Steve Green?

  • Outoftheloop

    Just when in Coach Crean’s career at IU has a great player said “it’s Indiana” and IU NOT had the scholarship for him? Never! The scholarship numbers are NOT our concern!

  • ADegenerate

    What’s a true Hoosier fan?

  • ADegenerate

    They are obviously a concern because Crean doesn’t have one to offer him! He’s waiting for DRob and Blackmon to decide before he offers. Wake up.

  • Jamie Rund

    I don’t know if Larry Bird and Robbie Hummel should be mentioned in the same sentence. I know Robbie is a heck of a player, but…..

  • BlakeD1223

    6’7 shooter with a quick release. I like it. Let’s hope he can play D.

  • IUMIKE1

    No Kool-Aid drinker here dude. Am I a Crean supporter, yes, but I make that decision based on the results that he has provided to this point, not on things that were out of his control or, on the other side of the coin, what he might be able to do sometime down the road as well. If our program starts taking obvious steps to being where it was when he got here I will be one of the first to voice concern and IF that happens it will more than likely be Crean’s fault.

    I will agree with you in that the moderators on here are sometimes a little quick with the delete button in my opinion, but, one, I don’t own or administrate this site so that is not my call and I understand and accept that , two, I can always choose to go elsewhere. As far as mentioning pUKe in a comment and that being enough to get your comment deleted, have to disagree with that one as I have mentioned pUKe in literally hundreds of my comments and as far as I can remember I’ve yet to have one deleted because of it. Having that comment deleted was more than likely because of the way that you used it or the language that accompanied it.

  • ADegenerate

    Well put man.

    I only said Cal took them to the Elite 8 his first year and that Crean can get better at recruiting although he is great. No foul language.

  • SemperIU

    Danny Ferry?

  • Snookafly

    Robbie Hummel? How is that kid doing? Last time I saw him we left him crying on the bench.

  • http://www.insidethehall.com/ Alex Bozich

    No, if you post something snarky like “stupid comment,” you get deleted. Any questions, you can email me.

  • Ole Man

    That would open 3 for 2015. This kid is being recruited for 2014.
    Plus, I honestly think Yogi stays four years. And JH has the potential, but has yet to put it together consistently. We’re all hoping he does this year.

  • Ole Man

    Your math still doesn’t add up. He’ll be a Jr. next year, at the end of 2015.

  • ADegenerate

    Touche.

  • Kyl470

    You are aware Crean has missed on recruits before. I could take up a lot of space and list them all, but I won’t. And by miss I mean recruited guys who were not very good. My main beef is that because one guy with unreal athleticism developed from a guy who couldn’t shoot to a guy that shot 50% on 3′s his junior year people act like this is the best formula for success.

    IU has one scholarship left and a top 50 guy in DR who is interested. I would focus all my attention on him. Plus with AE getting a redshirt IU has 0 juniors which means unless someone transfers or goes pro early they don’t have any scholarship available for 2015. So saving some scholarships and just getting RJ this year might not be so bad.

  • CreanFaithful

    IU hasn’t offered a scholarship. They have only demonstrated interest.

  • IUMIKE1

    Hmmm, got me then.

  • dmamel

    BIG TEN POY

  • Outoftheloop

    Larry turned out to be unique. But Robbie was crippled by serious injuries that Larry never had.

  • hoosier1158

    I wasn’t bashing BE. He was a good shooter, but i don’t recall him being good at penetrating and creating his own shot, maybe my memory is getting bad in my old age. I don’t think he averaged around 5.5 rebounds a game so not sure i would call that terrific, good, but not terrific.

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