Braxton Blackwell a priority for Indiana in 2016 class

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Recruiting will intensify for class of 2016 prospects across the country on June 15, the first date that college coaches can begin unlimited phone and messaging contact with rising juniors.

The groundwork, however, with many of IU’s top targets in that class is already being laid and Nashville Christ Presbyterian Academy (Tenn.) forward Braxton Blackwell is a top priority.

The Hoosiers offered Blackwell a scholarship during an unofficial visit for Hoosier Hysteria last fall, watched him recently during an open gym and last weekend in the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas.

Blackwell’s high school coach, Drew Maddux, a standout at Vanderbilt in the mid 1990’s, says the Hoosiers are one of the schools working hardest to build a relationship.

“I think it is very strong,” Maddux told Inside the Hall this week. “Right now, his dad, Thomas and Robin, his mother, myself, I think those relationships with Indiana, coach (Tom) Crean, coach (Tim) Buckley, coach (Steve) McClain and their staff are extremely healthy.

“They’ve done a great job of establishing a great foundation so when June 15 hits, Braxton knows those coaches, he has a name with a face and that foundation has been established with those of us that love him the most.”

As a sophomore at C.P.A., Blackwell won Tennessee’s Class AA Mr. Basketball award while averaging 19.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.2 blocks, and 2.7 steals per game.

At 6-foot-8, he can play and guard multiple positions. Next season, Maddux says he plans to play him frequently at point guard. His recruiting will likely intensify further as the summer moves on as schools make 2016 prospects an even bigger priority.

To this point, Maddux said schools like Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Providence are also putting in the groundwork to make a strong push for Blackwell. It’s clear, however, that his October trip to Bloomington made a strong early impression on the the No. 26 player nationally according to the 247Composite.

“Hoosier Hysteria was great because you get to see the fanbase, the tradition, the pageantry and all of those things,” Maddux said. “But I think it was being in community with coach Crean, his staff, the support staff and all of those people that make Indiana basketball special were the things that they really walked away with, that really made an impression with them.”

Blackwell is already off to a strong start this spring with the Atlanta Celtics, which finished the first adidas Gauntlet stop with a 5-0 record. He averaged 12.0 points and 5.8 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game.

Numbers, however, don’t tell the entire story on his ability to impact a game.

“I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves because maybe he doesn’t dominate the ball and have to go score for himself on the circuit,” Maddux said. “But his game, in my opinion, and I’ve seen most of the elite prospects in his class, his game translates better to the college ranks better than any player that I’ve seen.

“His skill set is so scalable. He can guard a variety of positions. He can guard a small forward. He can play a variety of positions on the offensive end as well. I think his game sets up so well to translate to the next level.”

(Photo credit: Vernon Bryant/adidas)

  • Gregory Spera

    The completely unofficial scouting report on Tim Priller based on a single All-Star game:

    The Bad: Extremely Caucasian. Skinny. Walks around hunched over. Tries hard on defense but is not very good at it. Tends to flail. Not a rim protector. Gets dunked on. Not a strong rebounder. Even when he is closest to the basket on a missed free throw that comes off on his side. Gets pushed around and jumped over. Did not shoot well in the game (2-7 on threes.)

    The Good: Very tall. Gangly looking but not uncoordinated. Moves well. Handled every pass. Runs the court. Offensive skills. Scored on a perfect pick and roll. Made a clever assist on a no look bounce pass on inbound give and go play from the high post. Picked up a loose ball under the defensive basket and took it the length of the court, through traffic, and spun in the lane for a layup. Won the halftime three point contest hitting 12 of 18 threes from the top of the key in 30 seconds. Quick release allowed him to get off at least two more shots in the 30 seconds than anyone else. Shoots from above his head.

    Conclusion: Definitely not Cody Zeller, but not Peter Jurkin either. Knows what to do with a basketball but needs time to develop.

  • Crimson&CremeFraiche

    Good assessment of Blackwell……

  • Gregory Spera

    Never seen Blackwell. Sorry.

  • Crimson&CremeFraiche

    Its cool. I do respect your take on Priller, though. But I thought it was the wrong place to post it. I did read yesterday that you were going to watch Priller last night so I understand why you put it on this story.

  • Caleb Moore

    Extremely caucasian. Thanks for that Donald Sterling.

  • ForeverIU

    Several of us asked Gregory to give us a Priller report, so thanks to him. We can multi-task here, no problem.

  • ForeverIU

    Thanks Gregory. You’re a man of your word, LOL!

  • Gregory Spera

    I mean REALLY pale. Hopefully that means he spends ALL of his free time in the gym.

  • N71

    I know its tough to make predictions, especially about the future, but what do you see out of him this coming season at IU? If I were to read into your conclusion I’d guess he’d need to wait for playing time until his sophomore year.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Thanks for watching reporting back Gregory, awesome stuff. I have two questions for you (if you have time to indulge me, my thanks in advance!)…

    1. Are you surprised he wasn’t being pursued by more mid to high major programs or did he seem to be a guy that is stepping into a level or two higher than he is ready for?

    2. In your opinion (we’ll call it an expert opinion), will he positively contribute in the coming season (also known as…is he going to prove to be worth the scholarship)?

  • ILive4IUBball

    I’m assuming 2014 recruiting is over, was wondering if yall had a timetable for when the 2016 recruiting board was gonna come out? Anyway, Blackwell seems like a must get. At 6′ 8″ he’s seems very versatile according to his coach – “he plans to play him frequently at the point guard.” Wow, I think the versatility of this kid is the true definition of a must get recruit.

  • Gregory Spera

    I’m not very good at this (I thought Perea and Hollowell were both immediate impact studs) but if you let him work the high post, not under the basket, I could see him contributing a little. Definitely needs to grow into his game, IMHO. Nothing 20 pounds of muscle couldn’t cure. Great recruit for those who hate the “one-and-dones”. Don’t see why he couldn’t be a solid four year guy who gets better every season.

  • Crimson&CremeFraiche

    Quoting Bill Burr “shockingly caucasian”

  • Gregory Spera

    1. Don’t think he is B1G ready yet. As I said, he is no Cody Zeller. Give the coaches a chance to work with this kid for at least one summer before drawing any conclusions, one way or another.
    2. See my answer above.

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

    It’ll be out this summer.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Guys tend to improve quickly when their competition is elevated. When he comes in and starts playing against Perea, Davis, Troy and Max, I think he will most likely begin to step it up. Plus, Jackson will probably be packing pounds of muscle on him which will definitely help.

  • ILive4IUBball

    Thank you Alex!

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    Well, “Extremely Caucasian” thankfully isn’t fatal to basketball potential. Anyone ever see Larry Bird high five his teammates when he played in Boston? Talk about All White…

  • Gregory Spera

    The Chief was black and which way do you count Dennis Johnson?

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    I meant Larry Bird was all white. I was making fun of his really country way of high-fiving his teammates.

  • David Macer

    Same team as Langford. Now getting both of these guys for 2016 would be huge.

  • David Macer

    Alex, did IU add a preferred walk-on for the fall ?? Saw something online somewhere but can’t find it again.

  • Bled4IU

    Reading what his coach has to say about him (Blackwell), i have to put him at the top of my 2016 wish list! 6-foot-8 and gonna run the point next year, incredible! Like you said, we get Blackwell and Langford!! Man, that would be a blessing!

  • Gregory Spera

    Nate Ritchie was the name.

  • Hoosier heritage

    Judging by highlight tapes alone, this kid looks like he’s going to be top ten in his class by next evaluation period.

  • Gregory Spera

    In a couple of years poor Priller may get bumped for him.

  • CreanFaithful

    Why make this kind of comment?

  • SeeingRed

    Thanks for the report. Enjoyed reading the eye witness take.

  • Gregory Spera

    It’s a joke. See, I was referencing all the comments questioning Priller’s “controversial” recruitment and the worries posted about Crean over-signing and offering scholarships to anyone who can dribble. See, those two concepts come together in this Blackwell thread, because I also posted the Priller scouting report here. This coincidence helps establish the humor of the situation by… oh, never mind.

  • Snookafly

    It’s a fair comment. When we sign a 3-star with almost no more scholarships available everyone says “I love four year guys!” Yet, how many “four year guys” have conveniently left the program when we need to free up schollys the following season? We develop them, and when they’re good enough to really make an impact, they bounce.

  • ForeverIU

    You have established yourself as the Priller expert, so you must remain objective and humorless. lol.

  • Gregory Spera

    Oh lighten up! (See what I did there?!?)

  • IUMIKE1

    Ignore all of the ones taking a dig at you. I for one welcome someone being able to go take a look, willing to go take a look and then let us all know what his take on him was. Thanks.

  • IUMIKE1

    Exactly, it’s not like we’re pUKe fans. lol

  • PocketHoosier

    I think locking in 4 years is punitive for programs that excel at developing their players into pro prospects in less than 4 years. You’d also get a lot of unhealthy pressure from coaches to hold excellent players back because they wouldn’t be able to be replaced on the roster for up to 3 years.

    But, I think that changing scholarships to 2 year commitments with the ability for the program to recoup the scholarship if the player graduates is another matter entirely. I think that would be a vast improvement over what we currently have and would balance a lot of competing interests.

    Under such a structure, programs would pay a single year, single scholarship penalty for each “one and done” that they recruit. I think that would spread them around the country much better than they currently are because teams wouldn’t be able to load up their rosters year over year with players that never committed to the “academic” side of college in the first place. It would require much more careful roster management by teams that rely on bandit recruits and would increase the level of competition across the board, unless a program like Kansas or Kentucky would be willing to maintain their status quo but only put a team on the court every other year…which would be highly unlikely.

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