Class of 2015 forward Raymond Spalding talks IU offer

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It’s been a productive month for class of 2015 Louisville Trinity (Ky.) big man Raymond Spalding.

The 6-foot-9, 210 forward is still playing for a state championship — his Shamrocks are in the Elite Eight of the Kentucky state tournament — and his recruitment has taken off.

As Trinity dispatched of Owensboro, 55-41, in the Kentucky Sweet 16 on Wednesday at Rupp Arena, coaches from Butler, Clemson, Indiana, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky were all in attendance as Spalding finished with seven points, six rebounds, four blocks and three steals.

It’s not particularly surprising that Spalding has become a priority for several programs as his length, size and upside aren’t easy to find.

He’s now ranked in the top 100 on Scout.com and is the No. 88 prospect nationally in the 247Composite.

“He’s had nights where he almost looks like, ‘Ok, he’s legit, he’s arrived,’ but he’s got to be able to be consistent with it and have back-to-back efforts and just stay tough,” Trinity coach Mike Szabo told Inside the Hall recently. “If you could have seen him a year ago from today, the amount of progress that he’s made in that stretch of time, if he can do that same amount again and be here next year, oh man. He’s going to be really, really good.”

Indiana has been a frequent presence at Spalding’s games this winter as Tom Crean and Kenny Johnson have been to Louisville multiple times. Yesterday, associate head coach Tim Buckley watched the rising big man. He also visited Indiana twice this past season. The most recent trip was for IU’s win over Michigan in early February.

The fact that the Hoosiers have been so active is something Spalding has definitely noticed.

“It tells me a lot,” he said. “It tells me they’re very interested in me and that they can really see that I fit their program. That means a lot to me.”

After Crean and Johnson watched Spalding win a Seventh Region semifinal game on Mar. 9, the Hoosiers took the logical next step in their pursuit by extending a scholarship offer.

“After that game I spoke with coach Johnson and coach Crean,” Spalding explained. “I had a really good game that day and felt really good about myself. The coaches really liked what they saw.

“They gave me a call later that day when I got home. Coach Crean, I got to talk to him for a little while. Very nice coach, great guy. He told me a lot about their program, a lot about what they see in me and how I fit into their program and how they know how much I could progress at Indiana. And he offered me a scholarship.”

Spalding has listed Dayton, Indiana, Louisville, Northwestern and Xavier among the schools he’s considering the most at this point and told Inside the Hall that the Hoosiers are making as strong of a push as anyone.

“Indiana is the school recruiting me hardest at this point,” he said. “They’ve been at a lot of games, been talking to me on the phone a lot. Coach Crean sent me a text recently to wish me a Happy Birthday. That means a lot.”

  • deebo

    Hope it works out but I’ve learned not to get too excited anymore.

  • http://assemblycall.com/ The Assembly Call

    Among the things I’m really encouraged with:

    1) If he’s strongly considering Northwestern, then academics would seem to be a priority. Suggests some level of maturity.

    2) As said, his length is hard to find.

    3) He’s part of a winning program, as his team is still playing.

    Here is the concern, and Alex I hope you can shed some light on this:

    His coach says, “He’s had nights where he almost looks like, ‘Ok, he’s legit, he’s arrived,’ but he’s got to be able to be consistent with it and have back-to-back efforts and just stay tough.” He goes on to remark about the improvement Spalding has made.

    My question is: in your experience watching these high school players go from sophomores to juniors to seniors to college players, have you noticed any correlation between a player’s own coaches comments about him — specifically when they relate to inconsistency or hint at a “motor” issue — and what he ends up being in college?

    For example, Watford struggled with consistency, even as a senior, despite having a very productive career. Could you project them from high school?

    Hollowell is a more recent example, and his inability to play consistently has led to obvious underachievement.

    i just wonder if by reading between the lines from what his coach says, we can reasonably project that Spalding will be an up-and-down type of guy … or if, in your experience, it’s impossible to tell until they get on campus and we see them for ourselves. You know this stuff 10x better than me.

  • http://insidethehall.com Ben_M

    Crean does seem to have a knack for finding recruits on the rise. A skill that can be essential to building a winning program these days with all the recruiting battles and 1 or 2 and done kids. Oladipo and sheehey were those types of kids. I also feel Stan Robinson and Robert Johnson will fall in this category. 6-9 210 is heading in the right direction.

  • CreamCrimson

    The 2015 class is crucial. IU would have Yogi, Stan, Troy, Davis, JBJr, RJ (I think RoJo would be a catchy nickname), all in their prime and add in whatever form Hollowell / HMP turn into by that point. (Maybe Cunningham too). If you can add 2 key pieces especially a big that could be dangerous.

    IU could be formidable next year, but likely at best a 20 win team, middle of the pack B10, and likely on the right side of the bubble. That’s what they should have been this year if they were able to correct a few of those disgusting late collapses (Penn State game I’m lookin at you). There was a very fine line between the 17 win team they were and a 20 win team they easily could have and should have been.

    2015 is a different story if you can add a few studs to that group. You’d have a veteran team, shooters, a senior PG trying to make a case for the next level, and very athletic forwards.

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

    I don’t think he (Szabo) was saying that at all (that he’ll for sure be up-and-down), I just think he was being honest about where he’s at in his development. I watched Spalding twice this past season and he was a lot better the second time. He’s getting better constantly. He is, however, nowhere near a finished product.

    The bottom line, however, is that none of this is a perfect science. Some kids pan out and others do not. There are kids who outplay their ranking and there are kids who never really produce at the level you’d expect.

  • Gregory J. Haggard

    You make a really good point.
    When you look at this team, they should have been a 20 win team, but 17 isn’t as bad as it could have been.
    I think next years team may surprise many.

  • http://insidethehall.com Ben_M

    How come my posts get deleted?

  • http://assemblycall.com/ The Assembly Call

    Right … I didn’t take his coach’s comments to mean that he’ll “for sure” be up and down. Just that a lot of times the high school coaches do nothing but sing the praises of players. So when you get a more candid, rounded comment like that, wondering if it should be given additional credence — based on your experience tracking this stuff.

    But, like you said, it’s am imperfect science. Probably can’t really tell much until they get on campus and start playing games.

  • JetpackJunky

    You think JBJ is going to stick around more than a year (if he’s as good as they say)? He tweeted awhile back something about being a one and done right?

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

    What post?

  • CreamCrimson

    Do I think a 6-2 Shooting Guard will stick around more than a year?

    Yes, yes I do. The NBA has changed big time over the decades. Until a Guard of his size can prove to me that he can also play PG effectively I will be in the wait-and-see camp to see what his NBA prospects are if his ultimate position is SG.

    For some perspective… AJ Ratliff also said he was a “one-and-done” after he landed the Mr. Basketball nod.

    Let’s have this discussion after he takes the court a few times.

  • Rie

    I hope he is good enough to be a one and done. Love the confidence James Blackmon has; we need more guys on this team that “know” they are the best and use it to their advantage. Our team this season just mentally did not seem right, especially when things were not going our way or started not going our way.

    From what I have seen, he is absolutely capable of playing the point. If he is talented enough, being 6’2″ instead of 6’4″ will not be that big of a deterrent for NBA GMs. My worry for him is more so on the defensive end, so we will see where he stands with that. Scouting sites also say he is an average athlete, so we will see what Cook and our staff can do in that regard in just one year.

    Either way, I am absolutely stoked to have another shooter/ball handler on this team. Sometimes watching the ball stick, not getting a field goal for an inexcusable period of time or watching bad shooters taking long range twos was painful. An instant offense guy, who could possibly be a one and done, is going to be great. Him and Yogi together are going to be deadly.

  • IUMIKE1

    Alex, I ask you since you probably know more so than most if not all on this. Is the perception that he could very possibly add another inch or two height wise or is the general consensus that he is done growing.

  • MK

    6’3 one and done? hes gonna have to be the second coming of steph curry if he wants to stay one year.

  • Snookafly

    He seems like a nice kid, but we’re spending a lot of effort on a 3-star. People love to point out what a great recruiter Crean is, but I’m not sure I’m seeing it.

  • Hardwood83

    The point is ‘where will he end up being ranked?’, not where he is now. Rankings are fluid- and judging from this story this kid looks to be on the way up.

  • walt

    I see the post, and it didn’t get deleted.

  • Snookafly

    Maybe so, but at 88 that’s a lot of ground to cover. For that matter, how many negative stories have you read about a target?

  • CreanFaithful

    Luke Fischer was ranked outside of the top 100 when we started recruiting him and he ended up somewhere around 40 by the time he landed at IU. That example leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, but the point is, we should leave these things to the pros…

  • calbert40

    For him to be a one and done, I think he’d have to have a great season (thank you, Mr. Obvious), but more importantly than that, he’d need to have a monster tournament. Basically, a Steph Curry tourney run.

    So, I guess I’d be okay if he was a one and done, because that probably means we make the Final Four next year. Fair trade.

  • Snookafly

    The “pros” have a tendency to manipulate rankings to build intrigue. Maybe he is a star in the making, but my main point is that I see us whiffing on the big names a lot of the time.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    Well… on the one hand, I see your point in that the high energy selling is best aimed at the 5 star guys who show interest. There’s a legitimate concern there.

    But at the same time, I feel sometimes we overvalue high school ratings. They do serve a purpose in demonstrating where a high schooler is at relative to his peers, but projection from that to the future is something else entirely. I’d like to think a coach will start chasing a 3 star not because of that ranking, but rather because he sees growth in a direction he thinks would mesh with the team he’s trying to put together. And little matter whether that ranking rises or not in the meanwhile; the real concern is whether that development does indeed happen in a way that makes a recruit valuable when he’s finally graduated high school. Ranking be damned.

    And also: While everyone knows Victor was relatively unheralded before he came to IU, let’s remember all the other players who were the same. While I’ve personally found it difficult to think that any player selected to his state’s All Star team is “unheralded”, the fact remains that a lot of people besides Calbert Cheaney himself have said he was a relative unknown and relatively unrecruited, including at least one of his own teammates (Chris Reynolds, who said that he hadn’t really heard of him before, he didn’t have the publicity others had coming in, etc. And Jim Crews of Evansville, who was one of the people recruiting him, came out and said “The only people who knew he was any good were his high school coach and me”). There’s zero question Cheaney worked out quite well.

    Of course, I wouldn’t simply claim that any 3 star or lower would automatically rise above his ranking. Rather, my claim is that a star ranking simply cannot encompass the qualities, talents, and growth direction that a college coach would be looking for when evaluating a recruit for future play.

  • Snookafly

    That’s a totally fair assessment. I guess I worry because talented big men are hard to come by and such a valuable piece for a team. Centers seem to take a lot longer to develop and fill out. I’m not sure our program can wait 2-3 more years for another quality big man to come along.

    It’s also important to note that Cheaney was under the radar in large part because of an injury.

  • Kenneth234

    I think this is a recruitment out of necessity of the situation more than Spalding catching Crean’s eye. But if he comes and works hard to develop his game and athleticism, he could have a major impact. But above all else, Crean cannot make a 6’6″ player a 6’9″ player like Spalding is. So in the long run, I would rather have Spalding than another wing for the 2014 class.

  • Kenneth234

    Every team but one whiffs on every player. I’d rather have a coach who at least makes a run at the top players than have one that never wastes their time.

  • Corey Schroyer

    Not saying he is or isn’t a one and done, but if you’ve seen him play, then you’d know that any pro team looking at his “shot” will give little concern to his height. He has a high release, about as perfect alignment as can be seen in a shooter and in my opinion more athletic than given credit for. He could be a 3-point specialist in the nba getting 12-15 points a game. But i’m betting he’ll be better than that.

  • MeniscusDiscus

    I just love confidence, too! And when Yogi signed and promised to bring some banners to Assembly Hall that brought my heart pounding outta my chest!

    Now it’s March 2014 and Reality feels like a big ol’ steel beam falling from the ceiling onto all those BIG PROMISES Yogi gave us.

  • MPmike B

    I hope that Tom Crean and his assistant coaches are being very careful in handing out scholarship offers to anyone that looks if they can play. I am not saying that this Spalding kid fits this category, but Crean and his staff have been jumping the gun too soon on some of the players that are playing at IU who are nothing close to what we all expected. IU doesn’t need to waste anymore scholarships on players who are not producing on and off the court. This includes leadership, being a good teammate, student athletic, and role model to the community. Oh, I thought he has already have players on the team that displays all of these characteristics- WALK-ONS. Get players that will earn their scholarships.

  • Snookafly

    Yeah, but that’s a pretty low bar.

  • Alford Bailey

    I tend to agree with you. With Creans offensive scheme he needs to be landing high 4 to low 5 star guys on a regular basis. Guys who are good shooters and can beat their one on one.

  • Alford Bailey

    So is this kid a legit low post player? I mean 6’9″ doesn’t always equal low post presence which is what we need.

  • CreanFaithful

    Why move Fischer up in the rankings after he commits then? I’ve heard about the so called manipulation. Bumping guys up that are uncommitted to drive traffic to websites and such, but you can’t just move a guy up 70+ spots to one of the best 40 players in the country arbitrarily. I’m not saying that is going to happen with this kid, but if it does, I doubt it’s for the sake of intrigue.

  • Snookafly

    With Fischer it may very well have been just a matter of exposure. I’m sure it happens all the time. But Fischer actually finished #89 on CBS-247, #79 on Scout, and #94 on Rivals. ESPN had him high, but of the major sites ESPN puts the least amount of effort into their recruit evaluations. College basketball is basically buried until March on their site. Who knows, maybe they were trying to validate our rabid fan base (look guys, THREE 4-stars!).

  • Will

    Every team in the country can say that. You can’t play woulda coulda shoulda and add wins to their record.

  • Will

    Finding an Oladipo or Sheehey is par for recruiting. Look around Stauskas, Burke, Russ Smith, McDermott, Wilbekin etc.

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