Five-star Kris Wilkes remains a priority for Indiana in 2017

  • 04/25/2016 9:36 am in

Indiana was one of the first schools to make Kris Wilkes a priority in the class of 2017 and the pursuit continues to be strong as the five-star forward concludes his junior season at North Central.

At 6-foot-8 and 195 pounds, Wilkes is a versatile player who has the ability to affect games with his length on defense and also score from both the perimeter and in the paint.

He’s once again starring this spring with the Indy Hoosiers, coached by Mike Peterson, on the Under Armour Association circuit. He was also recently named a core member of the Indiana junior all-stars that will scrimmage the seniors in two exhibitions in early June.

“I’m definitely having fun,” Wilkes told Inside the Hall on Friday. “I love playing with my team. We work hard, we play good as a team, we’ve got good chemistry. When we win, it’s always a good time.”

Indiana watched Wilkes closely over the weekend at Best Choice Fieldhouse in Fishers as Crean, along with Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, were there for his first game on Friday night and also in attendance during other points throughout the weekend.

According to the UA Association stats, he’s fourth on the circuit in scoring at 20.7 points per game and is shooting 54.5 percent from the field.

The No. 15 prospect nationally according to the 247Composite, Wilkes has compiled an impressive list of scholarship offers that includes Indiana, UCLA, Illinois, Maryland, Xavier and several others.

Indiana, of course, is the local option for Wilkes, who plays just an hour north of Bloomington for Doug Mitchell at North Central. He’s been to several games at Assembly Hall throughout the years for unofficial visits.

“I talk to Tom (Crean) a lot,” Wilkes said. “He’s just telling me to keep working hard, really on my defense and getting down lower, working on my stance and things like that.”

The success the IU coaching staff has had with wing players like Victor Oladipo and most recently, OG Anunoby, is something that has registered with Wilkes.

“I think they progress guys well. They get them stronger. I like their style,” Wilkes explained. “They get up and down the court, they run hard. They work on their jump shots and knock them down. I remember when Victor Oladipo first came there, he couldn’t shoot. Leaving there, he could shoot it pretty good.”

Wilkes has been visited by a host of schools recently for in-home visits, including Maryland, Illinois and UCLA. He was also visited recently by Michigan State.

Given his proximity to Bloomington and how frequently he speaks with the coaching staff, Wilkes said Indiana has not come in for an in-home.

That however, hasn’t stopped Wilkes from believing that he’s a priority for Indiana in 2017. When asked whether he felt like Indiana has made him feel like they really want him, he said they “definitely have.”

“They always tell me I’m their No. 1 option,” he said. “But I know they’re out there recruiting others, too, and I don’t blame them.”

(Photo credit: Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

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  • Arch Puddington

    I haven’t seen him play in person, but the videos tell an interesting story (or at least the ones I’ve seen). At a casual glance, he doesn’t look as overpowering or explosive as you might guess from a 5 star. But what becomes apparent is that he is one of those players who just makes it LOOK easy. Whether stealing the ball, throwing in a put-back, or weaving his way through traffic, he does things so smoothly that it almost seems effortless.

    It isn’t, of course. He’s just tremendously skilled.

    Crystal Ball says Kentucky, but dang, it would be great to get him and Scruggs. Lots of good Indiana players have gone elsewhere recently, at least some presumably due to the negativity that has dogged IU and CTC for the last couple of years: poor play on the court, problems off the court, lots of “Fire Tom Crean” calls on social media. Hopefully the wonderful season we just had and the change in the vibe surrounding the program give top local talent a renewed interest in the Hoosiers.

  • BL

    Good to see Coach talking defense – “He’s just telling me to keep working hard, really on my defense and getting down lower, working on my stance and things like that.”

    Man, recruiting is not easy. Porter is slightly taller and a little more bounce but considering intangibles and all, who knows who will be the better player. Guessing Porter is IU’s 1A and Wilkes is 1B. Be great to get both. Wonder if they get along.

  • BL

    Very well said. Some great talent in the 2017 class. Hoping our recent momentum, including TB returning, will truly put us in play for some of the top 25 kids. Some may wait til next spring to sign which will bode well for us if we have another good season.

  • GatewayHoosier

    Good assessment. I’ve been fortunate enough to see him play once, in February against Fort Wayne Carroll, a good team in their own right. Kris actually had a poor offensive game, but that actually highlighted what’s so impressive about him — he did not let it affect his contribution to the game. Carroll’s got a guy headed to Ball State next year, excellent player (Kyle Mallers), and Kris took him out of the game with his defense in the 2nd half. Not just on-the-ball D where he used superior athleticism in spurts, but the relentless kind where he denied Mallers the ball and anticipated passing lanes.

    It stood out because I’d seen a highly-ranked 2018 player, Damezi Anderson from South Bend Riley, several times this year. And while Damezi’s got lots of talent, when his scoring’s off, it puts him in a total funk.

    I would LOVE to get Wilkes.

  • Koko

    2017 recruit, 6 10 Mitchell Robinson just decommitted from Texas A&M. I don’t much about him but I would love to see TC take a look at him.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I have seen Kris Wilkes play multiple times in person going back to his freshman season. I haven’t seen a lot of the other players that are ranked ahead of him in the 2017 class so I can’t speak to their games but I’d be quite surprised if there were 14 players in that class that are better than Wilkes. He has length, athleticism, skill and appears to be rather intelligent about how he approaches each game (at least when I’ve seen him).

    I think he’d be a wonderful fit as a wing player in our system and I believe he’s being honest when he talks about noticing IU’s recent success in developing players as being a positive factor. As others have noted, the coaching staff (for whatever reason) has had some difficulty landing the big-time in-state recruit. The past couple of seasons haven’t really featured very many top-notch in-state prospects so I haven’t worried about it at all. After all, we’ve brought in players like OG, Juwan Morgan, Thomas Bryant and now the 2016 class…I believe that crop of players is substantially better than just getting in-state prospects because “they’re from Indiana!”. It appears highly unlikely that we’ll be able to land a top-level class in 2017 or 2018 without including some in-state kids…not because players like Wilkes, Malik Williams, Paul Scruggs (I’m concerned about his on-court attitude during games this past season though), Romeo Langford and many others are from this state but because they are definitely among the best prospects in the country. It’d be an incredibly difficult blow to deal with if we missed on each of these guys (or even most of them), not just talent wise but perception wise. I think Wilkes would have a really terrific career at IU and I wish him the best of luck in his upcoming decision.

  • N71

    If I feel a difference as an IU grad, life-long fan, and critic then I bet these recruits do as well. Two things stand out as key evolutions for Crean, his successful emphasis on defense that turned the worm this past season and continued player development. The defensive issue has allowed us to become more competitive which is certainly appealing but then seeing OG in particular emerge on the heels of Victor has got to be super sexy for guys wanting to go on to the pros. Playing time is one thing, but playing time and becoming a badass is another ball of wax all together. As a result our squad is stacked even without Yogi and the outlook is great. I feel we’re entering a phase, a steady state, where our talent will remain high year in and year out, and our coaching has matured to the point where we should be super competitive for the next number of years…knock on wood.

  • Lance76

    I like the idea that IU is noticed by many recruits as a school to develop players. We also have a number of options and seem to be in early in the recruitment process. Although we have had “off court” distractions, it seems the staff have dealt with these honestly and fairly. Maybe that sends a strong message to present and future players along with making a statement to parents of what the expectation is when attending IU on sports scholarship.

  • Arch Puddington

    Interesting story. As they say, great players find a way to contribute even when the shot isn’t falling. If he is that kind of kid on top of the physical skills, then he is that much more desirable.

  • Arch Puddington

    “Oh, and who just beat the Cats on the national stage?”

    Not sure how much any one game will impact recruiting, but I will say this: if I was Tom Crean, I’d have video highlights of that game playing on big screens every time a recruit came to Assembly Hall. The rise of guys like Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby tells its own story, but seeing them outplay a group of flashier, higher-ranked players should give a smart recruit at least some pause. Kentucky will always be more likely to get the kids who see themselves as stars just filling time until the NBA comes calling, but as long as CTC can keep the positive vibes going, we’ll have a chance to land kids with a broader perspective. Hopefully Wilkes is one of them!

  • pcantidote

    We’ll see how this 2017 class goes, but I get the feeling that we are settling into a nice niche with recruits. No, we are not UK or Duke, but maybe that is a good thing? At UK or Duke even as a 5 star you are going to have to scratch and claw for minutes and might fall off the radar despite being very talented. At IU, as a 5 star you are going to be a stud, and as a 3 and 4 star you are going to still have a great opportunity to play right away and develop to your fullest potential.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I’m very optimistic about where things stand at the moment. Is it cautious optimistic? Sure…but I feel much better right now than I did twelve months ago and I think recruits feel similarly about the program. Knock on wood indeed…

  • BL

    Very easy to see other programs benefit when a top flight program is down. UK, U of L, OSU and Butler all benefited greatly when IU was down. IU is clearly on it’s way back and I honestly believe we can get back to competing head to head on the recruiting scene with the likes of UK. I mean seriously, IU is 45 minutes from Indy where kids can go to NBA games and a whole lot more. No way most kids want to spend a year or two in Lexington. We just need a couple more good seasons back to back and Coach will be regularly pulling in top talent.

  • BL

    Love to see us get on a roll where he have a couple 5 stars each year to add to the glue guys and the diamonds-in-the-rough.

  • marcusgresham

    I think this guy is the “next step” for IU’s wings. It’s been a progression from a guy like Oladipo, who, while called a wing, really was undersized for that position and more of a guard who just got it done because he was a better athlete than everyone to Williams, who has the more prototypical size. Wilkes is getting up there more to the height where he’s rarely going to have anyone in college guarding him who is taller than he is. If IU were to land him AND manage to keep OG for that junior season that would be a pair of 6’8″ athletic wings very few teams could match.

  • BL

    “As others have noted, the coaching staff (for whatever reason) has had some difficulty landing the big-time in-state recruit.”

    Reasons are obvious – probation begets losing and trying to rebuild to fast with questionable players. Thankfully, it feels like we’re getting beyond that and regaining some respect. Hopefully, we’ll see more talented players nation-wide that would love to join in the tradition and don the candy stripes. Always the best when it’s highly talented in-state kids.

  • BL

    I know I’m being greedy but I’d love to see us get Wilkes and Porter. Unfortunately, know way to know if these kids get along. If not, that’s a pipe dream.

  • Fivelefts

    I believe CTC is setting IU up to be, the first option for kids who aren’t quite ready to make that one and done jump.

  • Fivelefts

    I agree! We are on the right path!

  • dwdkc

    I would love for that to pan out. Those kind of guys–Bryant, Yogi, Cody, etc.–are better their soph or junior years than all but a couple of the one and done guys. The best Duke and UK teams were mostly led by guys that stayed and the vets were at least as important as the one and done superstar. There are sometimes a couple of guys that transcend the experienced guys, but not every year such as this past year.

  • Ole Man

    Knock on a forest! LOL!

  • Ole Man

    Ask and ye shall receive. LOL!
    “The 6’9”, 200-pound 4-star prospect is the No. 33 recruit, No. 4 center and No. 3 player from the state of Louisiana in the 2017 class, per 247Sports’ composite rankings.”
    Kid could use IU’s weight and strength program.

  • dwdkc

    I’m not sure we can say that in the last 5 years or so we’ve had the issue with not getting the top Indiana guys. Certainly early in Crean’s career during the rebuild, for understandable reasons. But going back to 2011–Cody, 2012–Yogi and Patterson and Hollowell (my memory tried to black out a few of those), 2013- no stars but a solid player in Hartman, 2014 JBJ; lost out on Lyles. Most people agree pickings were kind of slim in 2015 and 2016 anyway. Who did we swing and miss on since 2011 that would suggest we have not been getting our share of the top Indiana guys? Not saying that’s wrong because I didn’t follow it closely, just wondering if this meme is really fair.

  • Arch Puddington

    Well, since Cody we have missed out on 5 straight Mr. Basketballs, and during that time we have missed all of the following ESPN Top 100 kids from Indiana: Gary Harris, Demetrius Jackson, Glenn Robinson III, VJ Beachem, D’Vauntes Rivera-Smith, Trey Lyles, Zak Irvin, Jalen Coleman, Jaquan Lyle, Trevon Bluiett, AJ Hammons, Kyle Guy, CJ Walker, Kellen Dunham, Mitch McGary, Raphael Davis.

    Meanwhile, since “the movement”, the only one we have gotten is Blackmon. Obviously CTC has found some good players elsewhere, and I know we will never get all the Indiana kids. But as I said earlier, I think the negativity surrounding CTC and the program have hit hard in-state, and a lot of local talent has gone elsewhere. Wilkes, Scruggs, and Langford would be nice reversals of that trend.

  • SCHoosier

    That 5th star took him from 6-6 to 6-8? Really the kind of talent we need to keep in IU of course. Thanks for these profiles Alex…the hungerfor IU b-ball info never goes away:)

  • Outoftheloop

    That’s not greed that is optimism! Why not get them both? IU can play 5!

  • Outoftheloop

    There is no longer a “Crean controversy” at IU; there is no longer a “not relevant” nationally label; there is no longer a “questionable character kids” reputation. But there still is the “fantastic school with an awesome fan-base and Big-Time pedigree” character of the Indiana program!

  • Outoftheloop

    …in Lexington…where they are treated like gods from Mt Olympus…not like human beings or student athletes! Bad for a mother but enticing for an impressionable teen!

  • Arch Puddington

    For sure. We definitely have the fan base, the facilities, the tradition, and the school. If CTC can keep the momentum going, there is no reason we can’t get more of the top local guys.

  • dwdkc

    Thanks for the info, I think you made your point. A good chunk of those guys were from the first 2 years when we got our share. But ideally we would have picked up a couple of the better ones on your list since 2013, and I agree CTC’s job security issue no doubt hurt.


    I’m not saying that some of those that you listed should or should not have been recruited, but I’m wondering how many of those had TC recruiting them until they told him IU wasn’t on their list anymore or how many of those TC did not really recruit for whatever reason, e.g. grades, off court stuff. I know there at least a couple of them that fall into that last category.

  • Arch Puddington

    I’m sure you’re right. Lyles, for example, was openly surprised that CTC did not continue pursuing him after he re-opened his recruitment. We’ll never know what, but something happened behind the scenes that CTC did not like. The fact that he DID stay after Blackmon just makes the point even more fully. Perhaps there were others whom CTC let go as well, and of course there will always be those who look elsewhere for a variety of reasons.

    But even allowing for all that, it has been a pretty dry 3-4 years. Even most of “the movement” committed early in their high school years, so in the strictest sense we have only landed Yogi and JBJ in the last 4 years (Devin Davis and Colin Hartman were not in the ESPN Top 100). And although I did not say so in my original post, I would point out that we haven’t really gotten many of the top players from nearby states, either. As we have watched some really good Indiana players go to Michigan, Michigan State, Kentucky, Illinois, and Xavier, to the best of my knowledge we have gotten any players back from any of those states lately. And while in the end it doesn’t matter where they come from, it does trouble me that a major midwestern program is no longer able to recruit the midwest (or at least hasn’t been successful lately). There is just too much talent for which we should have a recruiting advantage to just let it all go.

    Again, I attribute much of that to the non-stop negativity surrounding CTC over the last couple of years. IU’s struggles both on and off the court would be much more apparent to kids who live somewhere in B1G country than elsewhere, and it has been pretty poisonous. The hopeful thought, therefore, is that after a good season like we just had, and with another one looking possible next year, that negativity will go away and we can start making progress with the local guys again. And with what looks like some really top talent coming through, it would be just in time.

  • Koko

    I just saw your reply…..thank you.

  • Ole Man

    I think he is Texas to lose; but I like him!

  • Koko

    I have read several items on Robinson. I’ve seen him listed anywhere from 6’9″ to 7′. I could see TC taking a look at him….maybe he already has. When you say Texas do you mean recommitting to A&M or is Shaka going after him?

  • Ole Man

    He is leaning strong to Shaka and Texas.