A look at Max Hoetzel’s potential impact at Indiana

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When Los Angeles Times high schools beat reporter Eric Sondheimer first saw Max Hoetzel play as a junior at Calabasas (Calif.) High School, something about his game immediately stuck out. It was something that made Sondheimer believe Hoetzel could be a high-major player, eventually.

“He was 6-7 and could shoot from long range; he had such a great 3-point shot,” Sondheimer told Inside the Hall on Monday. “And you could see the potential he had. I saw him again in the offseason here in the summer, and he was continuing to improve. It was just quite interesting to watch to see who would become interested in him.”

A lightly-recruited prospect that had offers from Utah, Pepperdine, Davidson and Boise State, among others, Hoetzel transferred to Wilbraham and Monson (Mass.) Academy this past August, perhaps to evolve his game and perhaps to get more exposure. The result, Hoetzel calls, was “one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Within two months of choosing WMA, Hoetzel had received interest from Florida, St. John’s and Iowa State, among others. Indiana, who had watched Hoetzel during a recruiting trip to Massachusetts targeting Goodluck Okonoboh, had even entered the mix.

This past Sunday, Hoetzel committed to Indiana while on an official visit after he received a scholarship offer on Oct. 22, becoming the Hoosiers’ second commitment of their 2014 class. He chose the Hoosiers over other offers from Connecticut, St. John’s and even Florida (though they had offered him for 2015). 

When Sondheimer heard of the news, part of him was not surprised.

“I just think he must have continued to improve, which I expected him to do. I thought he was a really good prospect,” Sondheimer said. “And yeah, I thought he probably should have deserved more scholarships from bigger schools than he was getting offered here.

“Just because he moved back East and some other schools started to notice, I think it’s just a coincidence. He was gonna get recruited. He had scholarship offers, and yeah, maybe Indiana ran into him because they were recruiting somebody else, but good players will be noticed by everybody. Nobody is hidden.”

But there was also a part of Sondheimer didn’t expect Indiana —  a school that had top 10 recruiting classes in each of the past two years — to extend an offer to Hoetzel.

“Is he good enough to play at Indiana right now? I don’t think so,” Sondheimer said. “I think he still needs to keep improving, so I hope he made a good choice and has evaluated that properly. He still has a ways to go: He needs to keep improving his defense and he needs to become a more all-around player.

“But his scoring potential and his shooting potential are certainly a reason to take a little bit of a risk on him. There’s not that many 6-7 kids who can shoot the ball, potentially, as well as he can.”

Sondheimer was quick to add that Hoetzel’s decision to move to prep school could help fill that void in Hoetzel’s game and maybe has already helped to do so. Under coach Chris Sparks’ direction this season, Hoetzel is trying to become a more complete player at his size — one that is good on defense, can rebound and still shoot from long range — before he arrives in Bloomington.

Whether that happens remains to be seen, but even given only Hoetzel’s shot-making ability, Sondheimer is confident the Hoosiers added a good one.

“You just don’t see 6-7 kids shoot the ball as well as he does from as far of range as he can,” Sondheimer said. “And as long as he continues to get stronger and he figures out how to score inside as well as outside, that’s where you have a really good player.

“If (Indiana) needs a shooter, he can help fill that role great. But for him to be successful at that level, he needs to be an all-around player. And that’s what this year will be about, and he has very much in him to become an all-around player. He has such a good attitude. He’s a good kid, a good student. He’ll fit in well if he makes that improvement.”

  • Dee McDonald

    And you sir, sound like something else all together. it’s like you’re a combination of Paul Biancardi and Hoetzel’s crazy uncle who thinks he’s the next Larry Bird. For the record, I hope he is, but so far all we have is potential on the kid. Don’t oversell him. RJ is legit and one of the biggest risers on the 2014 Class, so don’t sell him short. It’s not your personal crusade to hunt down people who value RJ more than a 3-star under the radar kid who has massive potential. Honestly, if he didn’t have MASSIVE potential, CTC wouldn’t have offered him in the first place.

  • mdn82

    No, but athleticism probably counts for about 1/10th of dunking. Why must every player have a 42” vertical or every highlight a dunk to show he is a player? That is absolutely the last thing that shows how athletic you are.

  • IU76’s

    Calbert Cheaney only had an offer from U of Evansville, until Crews told Bobby about him. Very unselfish on Crews part, considering he was then coach at U of E. Sheahey and VO also hadn’t attracted any interests from Div I teams when CTC offered them scholarships.

  • IU76’s

    at 6-4 it doesn’t take a 42 inch vertical to dunk. Probably a 28 inch vertical should do it. Not sure as I was never close to 6-4 or dunking.

  • mdn82

    Are you sure he can’t dunk? Just because its not in a highlight doesn’t mean he can’t do it.

  • http://www.babytown.com/ OceanArcher

    wow, you seem to take these things personally… do you always take offense when people disagree with your opinions? for the record, I don’t think Max is better than RJ, nor do I think RJ is better than Max. What I’m saying is I find it funny how people can presume to know so much about these recruits based on a couple of highlight films and stars assigned next to their names. No one on these forums have seen any of these kids play or practice. If you can draw decisive value of someone’s ability solely from media reports, that’s your prerogative. I can’t. They have to SHOW me they can play, so right now I see them both as equals. Proclaiming “RJ is legit” at this point is a bit… premature, or perhaps it’s just blind optimism. I do hope you’re right. I hope all our recruits are legit, but I know in reality they won’t be.

  • http://www.babytown.com/ OceanArcher

    watch all his highlight films. On breakaways with no defenders around him he’ll lay it up. Why bother show layups in highlight films? IF he can dunk, it’s a low-percentage play for him. Reminds me of Verdell Jones. I’m not saying you have to dunk to be a great basketball player. I’m saying a substantial lack of leaping ability indicates sub-par athletic ability compared to someone else who can jump higher.

  • Dee McDonald

    I take it personal when people make vague subjective statements simply because they don’t agree with a vastly superior rating system than their own eyes. Especially when they reference YouTube highlight clips. I feel it’s necessary to say something. Not offended, just bothered by non-credible sources trying to manufacture information that doesn’t line up with reality.

  • http://www.babytown.com/ OceanArcher

    hmm… I’m not sure if it’s the big words or your syntax that confused me. Doesn’t matter. You have a dying need to be right, so let’s agree to disagree: You put faith in a “vastly superior rating system” to tell you if a recruit will be a star college player whereas I prefer to not pass judgment, good or bad, on any recruit until I see him play in college. I’m not criticizing your approach. That’s your prerogative. But if you want to criticize me for how I personally judge recruits, well… that’s your prerogative too. :)

  • Dee McDonald

    I’m totally fine with agree to disagree. Comparisons are one thing, but comparing apples to oranges (both in position and skill level, in my opinion) is quite another. I’m not bashing Max, I hope he proves every scouting service in existence wrong. However, I do know RJ is a whole different story. If we learned anything from last night’s game, shooting is at a premium in recruiting nowadays. And that will be a huge perk about, hopefully, ALL of our recruits next year.

  • http://www.babytown.com/ OceanArcher

    We definitely need help in the shooting department. I hope what the scouts say about JBJ and RJ, and the limited scouting report on Max are true. I wish they could publish FG% for these kids, which would be a lot more telling. Highlight videos full of jump shots don’t excite me. You and I can both look like world beaters in a highlight film that only shows made shots.

    Every scouting service cannot be wrong or right about Max because most scouts haven’t even evaluated him yet. Doesn’t really matter to me. Crean saw all these kids play and wanted them on our team. To me, they all have an equal chance to fail or succeed in the college game.

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