Freshman Focus: Jeremiah April

  • 06/09/2014 11:22 am in

“Freshman Focus” is an Inside the Hall series on each of Indiana’s five incoming freshmen. Over the next couple of weeks, we will examine what kind of an impact each player can have for the Hoosiers next season. Today: Jeremiah April. (Previously: Robert Johnson.)

On April 18, a trio of Indiana basketball signees for the class of 2014 were participating in two prestigious spring all-star games. James Blackmon Jr. was in Brooklyn at the Jordan Brand Classic while Max Hoetzel and Robert Johnson were in Louisville, Kentucky for the Derby Festival Basketball Classic.

By the time the evening was over, the performances of all three, while notable, would become secondary to the interest in a name that wasn’t even on the radar at the beginning of the day for Indiana fans.

As both all-star games got underway, word began to spread via social media that the Indiana staff had just secured a commitment from a big man in Arizona.

The name of the prospect? Jeremiah April.

A quick Google search revealed little about April, a 6-foot-11 center who had just completed a postgraduate season at Westwind Prep in Phoenix. YouTube also yielded little on April. He was a rarity in today’s world of recruiting coverage in which information is readily available at a second’s notice — a true mystery man.

The first call I made was to April’s coach at Westwind Prep, Jai Steadman. A former NBA D-League head coach and college assistant, Steadman explained that Tom Crean and Steve McClain had just left the school, where hours earlier following a meeting, April gave a commitment to Indiana.

“He just turned 18 and he’s got huge upside,” Steadman said. “He can score, he’s played against the best. He’s athletic, runs the floor, has a high motor and high basketball IQ. He should be ready to go.

“Steve McClain did a great job with Jeremiah. Their tradition, developing players, the conference, coach McClain did a great job of selling everything. Crean came in and finished the deal.”

Indiana’s need for post help became evident quickly after the season. It didn’t take long for Noah Vonleh, a surefire lottery pick, to declare for the NBA draft. That development was more expected than the mid-season transfer of Luke Fischer to Marquette, a departure that came as a bit of a stunner just a day before IU’s Big Ten opener at Illinois.

April, who was also considering Arizona State, Marquette and Washington State, was succinct in his reasoning for choosing Indiana.

“I got a good vibe from them and the goals they want to achieve,” he said.

As more became known about April — he averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds at Westwind Prep according to Steadman — the better the pickup looked for Indiana, especially when you consider the timing.

Finding size in the spring signing period isn’t easy to do and at 6-foot-11 and 230 pounds, April, at the least, should bring some frontcourt depth to a roster that had little of it. Video of April shows a player who has a relatively soft touch around the basket to go with soft hands, but plenty of work remains if he hopes to grow into a capable contributor as a freshman.

“I probably need to put on 10 or 15 more pounds,” April admitted after his official visit to Bloomington. “Also becoming more physical. I’m pretty confident in my shooting, floor vision and passing. I just need to get used to being that down low presence at the next level.”

“I told Coach, his best friend needs to be the strength and conditioning coach,” Steadman said. “As talented as these kids are, they need the weight room.”

The work for April in developing into a capable rotation piece is already underway as he arrived in Bloomington late last week to begin summer workouts and classes.

A trip to Montreal in August that will allow the Hoosiers to play five games in six days will be important for the entire team, but especially the freshman who will gain valuable experience against some of Canada’s best collegiate teams.

“He’s got very good timing, he’s got excellent hands for a big player,” Crean explained last week at Huber Winery. “He’s got a tremendously soft touch. So very soft hands and a soft touch. And it’d be a lot different story, because he’s relatively raw there’s no question about that, but if he didn’t have really good hands and didn’t have a really nice touch, then you’re looking at a guy who may not become a good shooter. We think he’s going to become a very good shooter.

“He’s got good timing on blocking shots. I don’t think he understands the intensity level yet that he’s capable of playing at on a daily basis or what’s going to be expected of him. I love his attitude, I love his family. I really like his coach and I like how excited he is to come to Indiana.”

Filed to:

  • FinEndNow

    Its hard to get yourself into “playing shape” when you dont play. You can run during practice all you want but it never gets you ready for running in a game. You just have to throw the kid in there.

  • I get your point, but part of that also is impacted by how hard you’re running at practice. Additionally, it’s hard to leave a guy in the game, if he is obviously struggling, getting up and down the floor as fast as the coach thinks he should.. OR isn’t even trying that hard because he’s struggling to keep up.

  • I can’t argue with your logic there.. I just think there’s a lot of one and dones that just don’t pan out. Honest question, was Embiid a five star.. or was he a relatively unknown big that really overplayed his supposed potential? Really don’t know the answer to that one for sure.

  • Very good point.

  • Oh they are? I thought Max is still being listed as 6′ 7″.. although I saw an article on him today that had him at 6′ 8″. I thought Hayward was a pretty solid 6′ 9″? AM I wrong about Hayward? I know some articles have indicated Max’s growth plates are still open and he is expected to grow some yet.. but is he really 6′ 9″ now?

  • Caleb Moore

    If he can give IU 12-15 minutes of rebounding and post D next year that would be great. Any points are a bonus. Anything more than that is also a bonus. Seems like he can run the floor some and has nice hands and touch, so that is a great start. You can build the body and the mindset and go from there. He does look like a guy who could be starter worthy by his Junior year. Not every kid can be a stud, and to lock a kid up this late with the size we needed with some potential, not sure I can complain about that at all. Fact is Fischer stuck us pretty good late and we need to take some chances on guys to have the bodies we need even if someone like him or Priller dont pan out and are gone after a couple years.

  • Ole Man

    Hey; I agree on the “panning out”. Even Noah, as great as he is probably going to be, wasn’t able to carry IU. That was part Noah, part the system, part the team IU had last year.
    So many factors can play into it. That’s why we don’t get the big bucks and CTC does! LOL.

  • ronb

    Sorry about that. I was using your last post about one and done players that caught my eye. That’s what I get for speed reading. I do think it is a fluke if you win with only one and done’s and KY proves that out because Cal has just 1 title using them. That team had a great center who was a great shot blocker and still is in the NBA. Just sayin’:)

  • Tyler DeHate

    Last I checked Max was being listed as 6’8″ and Hayward is also listed at 6’8″ right now. I’m getting my measurement on him from the Freshman Focus article about him. Hayward his listed as 6’8″ on the the Jazz roster.

  • Bruce

    Lots of kids might be “excited” to be a Hoosier. We need a player! Ole man is right (as usual)

  • IUMIKE1

    The point you make can’t be stressed too much IMHO. In fact it might do them more good in the long term prognosis to actually lose a couple of them rather than winning big or just winning them all and acquiring a false sense of security. Having said that and agreed with you I’m sure (as I’m sure you are as well) that more than 1 or 2 people will come on here and predict the end of IU bball if we lose even one game let alone more than that. LOL

  • SCHoosier

    I know what you’re saying..better than nothing..but what does dunking tell us about anything?..Hell that’s all we see on recruit tapes anymore. I’d love to see ball handling by Stan..defense by the rooks and how April,, Priller and Hoetzel do in the offensive sets. Probably aren’t gonna get that. I’m all for something though. The hunger burns:)

  • Ole Man

    I think it takes both. I think the day of squads “maturing” over four years and making a run are, unfortunately, becoming a rare event.
    Also, often that has so much to do with coaching.

  • Mattb

    let’s settle down a little bit on the hayward comparisons..dude was a stud his senior year of high school and his ability to score/make plays off the dribble were light years ahead of max at the same age. not to say max won’t be a good player, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

  • disqus_VmBrr9YHcD

    i see a lot of Cwat in him!

  • disqus_VmBrr9YHcD

    i think most of hanners issues are due to his hands.. he doesnt gain control of the ball in game situations, or hasnt yet. ctc has recently said that it is time for hanner to step up and be the player he can be. i see the athletic freak being our starting forward this year. i just hope they are doing a lot of control work and working with his hands. also composure has a lot to do with it as well. if he steps up we may not suffer a great deal this year down-low. if he doesnt then we are in trouble.

  • I agree with you, most of his problems is ‘hands’. CTC also though indicated sometime ago, that he wasn’t gettong himself into ‘game shape’ and wasn’t able to go as long as he should’ve been. I’m sure they’re working woth his hands a;; the time. He’s too important of a piece in the puzzle to not have him at his best. I really hope the guy comes around this year, I’m really pulling for him.