Recruiting notebook: 2014 power forward Ray Kasongo high on IU

Even though classes start in less than two weeks, Indiana is still not done recruiting the 2014 class.

6-foot-9 Ray Kasongo, who the NCAA has declared eligible but was denied admission into Oregon, has very high interest in Indiana, he told Inside the Hall, and will take an official visit to Bloomington with his parents beginning either Sunday or Monday. Indiana still has an open scholarship for this upcoming season.

The former Ducks signee is down to Indiana and LSU, his mentor, Brandon Bender, confirmed to Inside the Hall on Monday evening.

“This about opportunity, to learn and get better,” Bender said. “At the end of the day, I’ve known coach (Tom) Crean for years, since when he was at Marquette, and I trust him wholeheartedly. And I feel like he can get the best out of the kid. He’s going to push the kid, but that’s just him.”

Kasongo, who is rated the No. 222 prospect overall in the 2014 class, had received interest from schools including Memphis, Michigan State, USC and Kansas from the time it was revealed he would not be attending Oregon. He even visited Lawrence this past weekend, though it became clear that it would not be his final destination.

Admission to the university wasn’t the issue at Kansas, Bender said, rather, there was no opportunity for playing time right away. Kasongo said playing time is one of the biggest factors in his upcoming decision.

“And Indiana has that,” he said. “They’ve been telling me I could potentially start from day one.”

Bender shares that same optimism for the Hoosiers that Kasongo has and sees a great fit for him at Indiana. In fact, he said early Monday afternoon that “there’s a really good chance” Kasongo ends up at Indiana. The Hoosiers offered a scholarship last week, and there is prior experience between the two sides as Kasongo visited Bloomington two years ago as a junior in high school.

Kasongo added he could commit during a visit, though he likely will wait until after the visits to make a decision. He could visit LSU as early as this week.

But with classes scheduled to start on August 25, any decision will have to come sooner rather than later.

“I think it’s the make-up of the team and the opportunity; the minutes are there,” Bender said. “And I think that’s the biggest thing with him, that the minutes are there. Crean is a good coach, and they have a great player development coach.

“They just said that they have a gigantic need in the front court and Ray could come in here and possibly start and make an immediate impact as a freshman. Which is true.”

Crawford trims list to seven

2015 Gonzaga Prep (D.C.) guard Bryant Crawford announced on Monday that he has trimmed his list of schools to seven: Georgetown, Tennessee, Indiana, Memphis, Marquette, Wake Forest and SMU.

Crawford has been battling injuries through much of his high school career, including missing most of this past season with a broken hand, but he is still rated the No. 85 prospect in the class, according to the 247Sports Composite.

During the 2014 EYBL circuit, Crawford averaged 12.7 points, 3.6 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game for Team Takeover.

Leaf down to final 10

2016 Foothills Christian (Calif.) forward T.J. Leaf announced his top 10 schools on Monday morning, and Indiana has made the cut.

His top 10 is, in alphabetical order, Arizona, Duke, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, San Diego State, Texas, UCLA and Xavier.

The 6-foot-10 Leaf is ranked the No. 14 prospect in the 2016 class by the 247Sports Composite, and he also has made three unofficial visits to Indiana within the past year.

  • SCHoosier

    I think there are some red flags with Kasongo..but have to trust the coaches on this one (they obviously made the right decision on Nick Z.) My concern is that the kid comes in 6-7 weeks behind the rest of the team in conditioning and team chemistry. Given there was no opportunity for summer classes ..given his past academic concerns.. RK would no doubt be on an academic “bubble.”. But..if he’s as athletic as advertised…he could make an impact and push Hanner and April to better things. I just don’t see TC taking a serious chance on a bad apple..and its a good sign that the kid’s parents are involved. If the other choice is LSU..academics will be overlooked..but so is the Tiger basketball program.

  • IUMIKE1

    Have taken the approach of, ” not gonna get excited about this guy or that guy until they have signed on the dotted line “, over the last year or so, but I have to admit I’m really hoping and have ” controlled ” excitement, I guess is the way to put it, about us seemingly being in a good position to sign Leaf. I know his dad played in state and he has been on a visit numerous times, but I also know nothing is for sure in the world of recruiting and that this is a 17 or 18 year old young man. I also am aware that there is an awful lot of things that go on behind the scenes for just about any recruit, let alone one ranked as high as Mr. Leaf, but have to say that I’ll be disappointed if Crean can’t close the deal on this one.

    Now how long before I get the, ” get ready to be disappointed reply “, 5..4..3..2….

  • IUMIKE1

    Paddling that same boat with you, something just doesn’t feel right about the whole situation. Does Oregon have higher academic standards than IU for admission ??? Plus I know you can’t always go by the recruiting rankings but are they off by so much that he would move up 75 to a 100 spots, or even more, if they were spot on ??? Like you said tho Crean doesn’t have a history of taking on academic liabilities and maybe we have to roll with that fact, but something just doesn’t feel right here.

  • Alford Bailey

    Fair question

  • Alford Bailey

    I know this kid was kinda far down on the recruiting lists but look at the schools interested first time around. UCLA, Arizona, UCONN ect. so there is certainly something there. Worth taking a chance on IMO.

  • Alford Bailey

    I trust Crean on academics issues. I think he can straighten out whatever issues arise on that front. I think their is major potential with Ray. Kid had some serious offers. Very well could be the missing link down low for this team. Will be interesting….

  • Alford Bailey

    I thought I saw UL on Crawfords final list the other day. Must have been mistaken. Thats one KJ missed out on.

  • SCHoosier

    I think the only thing Ron wants to know..”Am I good enuff to get minutes at Syracuse this year?”

  • Outoftheloop

    So far the answer is “No”!

  • ForeverIU

    We don’t know yet what the nature of the academic issue is. Some are
    saying that it has to do with the transferability of online courses.
    Regardless, even if it’s an issue of grades, I have complete trust in
    Coach Crean’s judgement. We have great academic support at IU. If the
    kid has the character and drive to do well, then he deserves every bit of our support as fans.

  • Gregory Spera

    “They just said that they have a GIGANTIC need in the front court…”

    Not sure, but this might have something to do with it.

  • Bryce Kepner

    Oregon doesn’t accept any sort of online courses on a transcript and wasn’t accepting his online courses or courses he had from a few of the schools he went to. He was ruled academically eligible by the NCAA and by Kansas on his visit there.

  • ForeverIU

    Ray Kasongo also has some tweets in French, a nice touch. It must be his West African heritage, I’m guessing?

  • Bryce Kepner

    Also , last summer Kasongo went up against Cliff Alexander and Jahlil Okafor. Kasongo’s stat line for the game: 24 points, 15 rebounds, 7 blocks.

  • IUMIKE1

    Very interesting ! How the hell can he be ranked 222 in the ’14 class ? ! With as funky / screwed up as the rankings are one would think that that one stat line against those two would be enough to have him ranked higher than 222.

  • Bryce Kepner

    I’m fairly certain the ranking systems are messed up. They show favoritism. Kind of like how ESPN always covers the big market teams no matter how well they are doing.
    Most likely it’s because Kasongo played some high school ball in about 3 different schools.

  • ForeverIU

    And if CTC can be left out of the top 50 coaches … makes you not wanna rely on those rankings. I think maybe the top 50, maybe up to a 100, are fairly reliable, and then after that I think it just becomes a coin-toss fest, lol. Either that or after a certain point marginal difference becomes so miniscule that absolute ranking doesn’t really mean much.

  • Aiken_Hoosier

    “They’ve been telling me I could potentially start from day one.”

    What? I have little doubt the kid has some talent, but this comment concerns me a bit. Not sure how this would play with Hanner and the rest of the team.

    In a perfect world, we sign him, teammates receive him without reservation, and our front line gets a much needed boost.

    In the real world, things don’t always work out so easily……

    Count me in the “cautiously optimistic” crowd.

  • ForeverIU

    I share your concern. But I think he worded it carefully; he qualified “start” with “potentially”. Moreover, the starting line-ups don’t mean much, and in the end those who contribute best will play most.

  • Daniel

    I’m not sure whether I’m going to love this pickup or hate it if it does happen. Guess I won’t know til the season is underway. I love the kids talent, but I am concerned about chemistry. I think bringing in a potentially major piece to our rotation could send the wrong message to players like Davis who have been working their tails off for IU this summer. Davis himself said in his intervioew last night he felt this team had a better sense of togetherness this year and I really really don’t want to lose that

  • ForeverIU

    LOL, yeah, I know, but I think he lives in Toronto, which is by far English-speaking, right?

  • Alford Bailey

    Not likely, ever. Ron will win a lot of games sitting on the bench, though. Not a smart move for playing time.

  • Alford Bailey

    Maybe the staff said such a thing because its true. The kid has talent and CTC has mentioned more than once Hanner’s lack of drive. Who knows but I want him on the roster.

  • INUnivHoosier

    Do you know how he has done otherwise? I don’t know much about the kid. Maybe someone else has insight?

    I keep seeing that line, but sometimes people just have a good game.

  • DL

    He’s been to 4 different high schools here in the states. I’d say there’s a pretty good chance they moved from a part that does speak French.

  • DL

    Togetherness is great and all but that doesn’t make up for the size and strength that he’ll bring. We need him if we want to win in the B1G.

  • Brian Stewart

    The kid is listed as PF. We don’t have true center that I can see, so with Davis & Perea as only two bigs we’ve seen play playing time wouldn’t seem to be an issue. Crean likes kids to compete in practice. Adding another big to the fold shouldn’t hurt in that area.

  • Daniel

    While it is obvious we our lacking size in the post this guy really isn’t much bigger if at all than Hanner. Now if Hanner has failed to improve much this summer or this guy is going to be his backup then by all means. But even if we had a 7 footer this year we wouldn’t win from our post play. We’d win by our guard play and speed. We just need an adequate defender/rebounder and I think Hanner can do at least do that. After watching the Spurs dismantle the Heat this year I will take chemistry over talent any day.

  • Bryce Kepner

    I really don’t know how he has done otherwise. I’ll have to keep researching. Kind of tough to say that he “just had a good game” against two of the best big men in the 2014 class. I think the fact that he had offers from UCLA, Arizona, UConn, USC, NC State and interest from Michigan St and Kansas says a lot as well. I’m just saying I don’t think he would hurt our team haha. Seems to have more upside than any big man we currently have

  • E Foy McNaughton

    In one article I read, Nike U is also having trouble getting J. Lyle admitted. Maybe it is the internet classes, who knows, but I think ultimately the only way to explain the consideration is the huge need in the front court. The Ron Patterson situation at a minimum makes us look like we play with the admissions standards depending upon our needs at the time. Not enough scholarships = tough admission standards, Not enough front court players = no problem, come on in to IU. I just would like to see IU do better integrity wise in the future.

  • Kyl470

    I agree with your take. CTC over signed and didn’t have a spot for Ron so our admission standards got tough. However, this team is a big man away from being top 5 team in the Big Ten so now the standards aren’t so harsh. This seems pretty UKish to me. I hope I’m wrong and this kid joins IU and makes the Big Ten All Academic team.

  • TorontoHoosierFan

    Yep, English speaking for sure. Wish I could tell you more about this kid but don’t know much. Not really up-to-date on the Toronto high school scene (I’m guessing that being from north of the border hurt his ranking). But we sorely lack front court depth so I’m all for this signing.

  • Kyl470

    It’s not about being taller than Hanner, but you need more than just Hanner. Priller and April won’t be ready to contribute this year. You’re not going to survive the Big Ten with one guy at 6’8″. Plus we all know Hanner fouls a lot. You have to get depth and that is what this kid brings.

  • Dagwoods

    This guy looks to be underrated, but if Hanner can’t be play above him, that’s all on Hanner. Haven’t seen this guy’s jump shot, but Hanner DOES have one. Not saying they couldn’t play together though.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I have the exact same hopes!

  • hardly

    all recruits get told that. because its true – if you compete and win a spot, you can start from day 1. walk-ons could start from day 1 if they’re better than the scholarship players. why would you ever tell a kid ‘there’s no possibility you’re going to start’?

  • hardly

    he realistically could start right away – no question.

  • INUnivHoosier

    I’d tend to agree that those suitors give him some credibility. I just noticed that when I was researching him, everything seemed to only discuss that same performance you talked about. It is impressive, but if that’s his only noteworthy performance, I don’t think it’s as exciting.

    If he fits in culturally, he seems like a good grab this late in the game.

  • marcusgresham

    Leaf is the most important guy in the next couple of years in my opinion.

  • skotchie

    Yep!

  • Snookafly

    I have no problem with it, but I wouldn’t use KU as a measuring stick for academic honesty.

  • Snookafly

    If he can guard Kandinsky, I’ll do his homework for him.

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