Indiana remains strong with 2016 forward T.J. Leaf

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More than a month has passed since Foothills Christian (Calif.) forward T.J. Leaf visited Indiana for the first time.

The class of 2016 prospect was in Bloomington in early September and received a scholarship offer from the Hoosiers on the visit. Now that Leaf has had more time to think about it, it’s clear the Indiana option continues to resonate with him.

Inside the Hall spoke with Leaf by phone from the USA Basketball national developmental team mini-camp in Colorado Springs earlier this month.

“It was a really good experience being able to go to a great program like that historically and recently,” he said. “It seems like I would fit really well in their system. I like coach Crean and I like all of the coaches and what they’re doing there. I was just really impressed.”

The No. 25 prospect in the 247Composite, Leaf averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds as a freshman last season. One of his primary goals during the offseason while playing with the Compton Magic was to make himself more perimeter oriented.

“(I’m trying to) keep moving my game to the wing where I can be a multi-dimensional player even more and more,” Leaf said. “That’s what I’m looking forward to (about the upcoming season).”

Leaf’s father, Brad, was a standout at Evansville from 1979-82 and according to T.J., has been a major supporter of looking hard at Indiana.

“He’s probably just as excited as me about it,” Leaf said. “He grew up there always watching the games and wishing he could wear one of those uniforms. He’s edging me to go there, not really, but thats where he sees that I would fit the best right now. We’ll see.”

The 6-foot-8, 210 pound forward also has offers from Portland, San Diego, San Diego State and UCLA and interest from Arizona, Michigan, New Mexico and Stanford.

When he was in the midwest earlier this fall, he took an unofficial stop to Ann Arbor to check out the Wolverines.

“It was a good trip. I got to go to the Notre Dame-Michigan game,” he said. “The facilities there are great. It was really nice to meet all of the coaches and see what they do there. It was a good visit.”

Leaf’s next experience with Indiana basketball will come a month from today when he’ll watch the Hoosiers play Samford at Assembly Hall. So what is he looking forward to most about that trip?

“I guess to see how they actually play and what the coaches let them do out there,” Leaf said. “Do the coaches have handcuffs on them or do the coaches let them play? Just overall, how they coach them and how the players react to their coaching I think is what I’m looking forward to the most.”

  • HoosierPat

    I like this kid. He seems like a misplaced Hoosier. Hopefully CTC and his dad can convince him to be a Hoosier.

  • HoosierTrav

    I cant wait until it gets to the point where Indiana kids dream of donning the candy stripes. Its going to be a little while but I’m confident that it will happen. It makes things much easier when the parents of the kid are aiding in your recruiting efforts. I really want this kid. I realize that all i’ve seen are highlight mixtapes but you see inthose highlights are very telling of this kids size and offensive polish. This kid is going to absolutely explode this summer.

  • r

    I really hope IU lands this kid! Videos only show upside and skill level, but the videos of this youngster show a lot of both.

  • Chezaroo

    Inevitably, all the heavyweights will be after him shortly. So early in his recruitment, that virtually anything could happen. His versatility growth makes him a very desirable player. Seems as though UM has also made a favorable initial impression as well. Interesting to see how his continued development pans out.

  • Ole Man

    He’s a Cally kid; but his Dad was a Hoosier native.

  • Snookafly

    Don’t break your old man’s heart T.J.! But seriously, he sounds like he’s ours to lose. I want to bring back our ability to raise goosebumps in recruits when they get our call, and these are the types of players we need.

  • SCHoosier

    U can bet Leaf will be college ready thanks to his dad’s background and involvement. Lot of development to do…but seems to have all the tools. Hope TC explains that the only handcuffs IU uses are the ones Hoosier defenders try to put on the competition defensively. This kid seems to like the up and down game…what’s not to Like about IU in that regard?

  • dmamel

    The “handcuffs” T.J. refers to reminds me of the career of Dane Fife. When Mike Davis became coach Dane was a senior. Mike removed the “handcuffs” that Dane wore for three years under Bob Knight and became the player we all expected him to be when he came to IU as the top player from Michigan. He was allowed to shoot the ball and they were leading the national championship game with 10 minutes to go. That would have never happened if Dane still wore those handcuffs. I applauded Mike Davis for that. Hope T.J. likes what sees on his next visit to Bloomington.

  • dmamel

    I love that his dad wished he could wear those Candy Stripes. When I was a kid I dreamed of playing for Indiana. But I was nothing but a small 5 star recruit, in my own mind, on the sand lots. LOL. With ESPN bringing the entire nation to kids and the wanderlust they might possess, the recruiting game is a lot different than the ‘old days’. Seems like T.J. is learning about the tradition of basketball in Indiana. Hope it works.

  • jimmygoiu

    Dane was a junior when Davis took over. Fife was pretty much the same as a junior as he was as a soph. Fife seemed to be much more confident in his abilities as a senior.

  • dmamel

    Thanks for the correction. But Davis did let him play like Knight did not. There was another time when Knight had the players so messed up they were afraid to shoot the ball. So the players had a private meeting and decided to not worry about it; just shoot. The next game was the first game of the tournament and, with this information, I bet someone that they would shoot 60% from the field. I won the bet.

  • GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    As long as he isn’t related to Ryan…

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