2016 forward T.J. Leaf continuing his rise

  • 07/18/2014 8:40 am in

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. — 2016 forward and longtime Indiana target T.J. Leaf has recently seen an explosion in his recruitment. Just in the past week, the 6-foot-9 junior, the No. 18 prospect in the 2016 class according to the 247Composite, has received offers from Florida and Louisville.

On Thursday, Inside the Hall caught up with Leaf at Battle at the Beach after he recorded 31 points, five rebounds and three blocks in two evening games for Compton Magic Elite in front of multiple college coaches — including Indiana associate head coach Tim Buckley.

Our full conversation with the Foothills Christian (Calif.) forward is posted below:

Earlier this summer, you talked about hoping to become more of a wing player. How do you feel that adjustment has gone, so far?

“I think I’m definitely evolving my wing skills to be more of a 3-4 instead of a 4-3. So I think I’m doing a pretty good job of that.”

What other parts of your game have you been working on recently?

“Just continuing to get healthy, a consistent jump shot, those are pretty much the main things. And then just continuing my wing skills and dribbling.”

Your first game tonight, your team won by 20 points. How were you feeling out there?

“I felt pretty good. I mean all our guys got to play a lot, so it’s good for everyone to get looks out there in front of the college coaches.”

What are your thoughts on the tournament, thus far?

“I think it’s a really good event. There a lot of really good teams out in the West and there’s no brand, so any team can come play. And I think that’s nice.”

What colleges are coming at you the hardest, right now?

“Indiana, Michigan, Texas, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Florida, Duke, Oregon, Iowa, a lot of them.”

Are you expecting any new offers on the horizon?

“I think Michigan State and Duke might offer soon. They’re obviously both great programs and they both have great coaches.”

Do you have any list of top schools at this point?

“No, but I might be releasing one in mid-August. I’m not sure yet.”

Do you have any planned visits at the moment?

“Yeah, I’m taking one to Arizona and Arizona State in the beginning of August. Not sure on the exact dates, though.”

How often has Indiana been in touch with you, recently?

“Quite a bit, just as much as everyone else. I mean, they keep in touch with me five or six times a week.”

What about Indiana’s pitch has stood out to you, specifically?

“Obviously, they’re a great program and I like how coach Crean says he’s going to use me, kind of as a 3-4 who can get the defensive rebound and be able go all the way with it and just play the wing a lot. That’s definitely an attractive option.”

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  • Hoosier Hall

    No such thing as a “must have” but this guy would definitely be a hard one to see go somewhere else. I really like his skill set and tenacity. Seems like an intelligent kid too.

  • plane1972

    I feel the same way. I’m really tired of Crean getting in early on these guys only to see the likes of Louisville weasel their way in. I give Coach Crean a lot of credit for the quality of his early assessments of guys. Now we just need to land a couple of them.

  • N71

    I can’t imagine his being disappointed he chose Indiana. Back home again, being developed well, getting a grade A education, competing at the highest level, getting to live as a star in the middle of a basketball culture, etc. If there was ever a match made by the basketball gods, this would be one.

  • Kyl470

    I’m taking the same approach with this kid as all the other recruits. I’ll get excited when he actually signs a letter of intent to play for Indiana. I know the talk is fun, but it’s still early in his recruitment and a lot can change.

  • marcusgresham

    I could end up being wrong, but Louisville doesn’t worry me with this kid because I think he’s also interested in the academic aspect of a school. Now Duke or UCLA may be a different story in that regard…

  • marcusgresham

    The reason to be optimistic with Leaf is that it seems his father would love for him to go to IU. The reason to not go overboard with that optimism is that his father seems like a super guy who will allow his child to make his own decision.

  • Caleb Moore

    Really early but got to think it’s going to come down to UCLA or IU but I wouldnt rule out Arizona. Like Ohio State, kids seem to visit Zona and it’s a done deal.

  • MileHighHoosier

    Not sure what it is about this kid but I think he is someone we NEED. Not just because of his physical abilities but I think he is a pure culture must-have. His tenacity and mental toughness remind me of players during the Knight era and I would love to see that mentality and leadership back at Indiana.

  • Alford Bailey

    Many IU fans have their heart set on this kid. Look at that list of schools. Landing Leaf would be Crean’s biggest recruiting triumph so far IMO.

  • Michael

    Cody is just chopped liver to IU fans.

    Cody was his biggest win in recruiting.

  • ForeverIU

    IU keeps in touch with him “five or six times a week” and that’s “as much as everyone else”? How many calls/texts does the kid receive per week? And we’re still three season’s away, lol.

  • ForeverIU

    Why are we chopping liver and splitting hairs? He said IMO=In My Opinion.

  • Bryce Kepner

    JBJ isn’t too shabby either!