Update: Team USA fell to Canada, 94-85, and is eliminated from medal contention.
If USA Basketball is to keep hope alive for its first goal medal in men’s basketball at the World University Games since 2005, it must beat Canada on Friday.
That’s because the Americans fell to 3-1 in pool play on Thursday with a 93-84 loss to Australia.
A win on Friday against Canada would create a three-way tie at 4-1 in Pool C and only two teams advance to the medal round.
The tiebreaker would come down to point differential and according to a release by USA Basketball, Team USA needs to beat the Canadians by 10-or-more points to finish ahead of at least Australia in the standings. If the USA loses to Canada, it would play for ninth place at best in the event.
Thursday’s loss to Australia, which Team USA led by five points entering the fourth quarter, was the second for the group since arriving in Kazan, Russia and came at a costly time.
“We just have to revitalize our spirit,” coach Bob McKillop said. “It was shaken by this, it was shaken by the exhibition loss. It’s a very uncommon situation for USA Basketball. Leadership from the coaching staff and leadership from the team is going to be vital right now.”
Yogi Ferrell was one of four players in double figures of Thursday’s loss with 10 points, but finished just 4-of-16 from the field. Ferrell also had five rebounds, four turnovers and three assists in 23 minutes.
Will Sheehey finished with four points in 10 minutes.
Check out 25 photos by Jamie Owens from the first two days of the adidas Invitational at various sites in the Indianapolis area in the embedded photo gallery after the jump. Purchase prints at JScottSports.com.
INDIANAPOLIS — Class of 2014 forward Goodluck Okonoboh drew a large contingent of head coaches for his first game of the July evaluation period in the adidas Invitational on Thursday morning.
Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Ohio State’s Thad Matta and North Carolina State’s Mark Gottfried were among the faces in the crowd.
But none of those schools or coaches have put in the same time with Okonoboh as Indiana, which had Tom Crean and Steve McClain front and center for his July debut. Okonoboh’s AAU coach with Mass Rivals, Vin Pastore, compared the recruitment of his star to that of Noah Vonleh, IU’s top recruit in the 2013 class.
Pastore says Indiana was the first of the “big-time players” to get in with Okonoboh.
“(It’s) like they did with Noah. Early and hot,” Pastore said. “I think they’ve done everything that they did with my other guy. Kenny Johnson is doing a great job as he did with Noah. They recruited Noah all of last summer. As he was starting to blow up, they jumped in right there (with Goodluck). And then they’ve picked it up significantly.”
That should bode well for IU’s chances with the nation’s top shot blocker, who isn’t claiming any favorites at this point or revealing plans for visits in the fall.
“At the end of the summer I’m going to sit down with my family and figure out what’s the best plan,” Okonoboh told reporters after scoring 16 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking 10 shots in a 75-67 win over Indiana Elite.
The increased intention is an adjustment for Okonoboh, who spoke to close to 10 reporters for nearly 15 minutes after his first game.
“It’s been a new thing for him,” Pastore said. “This is all brand new, so he’s doing well with it.”
Okonoboh’s relationship with Vonleh, who he calls a good friend, could also be helpful for the Hoosiers. The two have spent time together this summer at the Amare Stoudemire and LeBron James Skills Academies.
“He’s always in my ear about IU,” Okonoboh said. “The most humble kid you’ll ever meet. He’s one of the top players in the country, but he’s just a great kid. He knows he doesn’t have to talk to me like anybody else would talk to me. We just keep it real with each other.”
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana tracked class of 2016 five-star forward De’Ron Davis in the April evaluation period and continued its pursuit of the rising sophomore as the first July evaluation period tipped off on Wednesday night.
Tom Crean and associate head coach Steve McClain were courtside to see Davis and the Colorado Hawks beat Dorian’s Pride in the adidas Invitational.
“I think they’re interested in me,” Davis said after the opener. “When I call them, he (Crean) sounds like he’s pretty interested and that’s pretty big for a head coach being at a first game (in July).”
Davis, who plays at Overland High in Aurora, Colorado, says he’s not too worried about the recruiting process just yet, but did say Indiana is among his top five schools along with Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado and Kansas.
He’s visited Colorado and Arkansas and said he hopes to take a visit to Bloomington “real soon.”
At 6-foot-8 and 220 pounds, Davis is considered one of the top players at his position in his class and the No. 10 player nationally by ESPN.com.
Last fall, he was invited to USA Basketball’s Developmental National Team mini-camp in Colorado Springs. Several IU targets participated with Davis, including Tyus Battle, Bryant Crawford, Marcus Derrickson, Eron Gordon, Marcus LoVett, Malachi Richardson, Elijah Thomas and Diamond Stone.
One of the major improvements in his game over the last year is being able to move more fluidly at his size.
“Been doing a lot of agility drills and working out,” he said. “I’ve been using Colorado’s air in the mountains, up and down hills and on the track. I can just move better. When I’m playing against bigger and slower people, that comes in handy.”
INDIANAPOLIS — As one of the fastest rising prospects in the country since the fall, it’s no surprise that class of 2015 forward Carlton Bragg drew quite a crowd to begin the July evaluation period.
Tom Crean, Ohio State’s Thad Matta, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Illinois’ John Groce and West Virginia’s Bob Huggins were among the head coaches at Northview Middle School on Wednesday night to watch Bragg and the Ohio Basketball Club in the adidas Invitational.
Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua also watched Bragg, who is rated the No. 13 prospect in his class according to ESPN.com.
Indiana is one of the schools Bragg says is recruiting him the hardest in recent months along with Ohio State, Illinois, West Virginia, DePaul and Texas. He said he plans to take an unofficial visit to Bloomington this fall.
“They like my game and want me to keep working hard,” Bragg said. “They want me to get down in the fall for a visit.”
Indiana tracked Bragg in the April evaluation period, watching him in the adidas Hoop Classic in Wadsworth, Ohio and followed that up with a scholarship offer less than a week later. In early May, the five-star forward said he was “very excited” by the IU offer.
At 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, Bragg is one of the most versatile players in his class with the skill to step outside and shoot the three or score around the basket.
The ability to step out is a relatively new part of his game that he added during the high school season after playing primarily in the post up to that point.
Earlier during pool play, Yogi Ferrell set a record with his 13-assist performance at the World University Games. While it was impressive, Indiana fans have come to expect those types of numbers from Ferrell. His court vision proved to be one of his biggest strengths during his freshman season.
Ferrell showed Wednesday that he is continuing to expand his game and adding more offensive weapons. He led Team USA with 20 points in an 83-65 win over Sweden, including four 3-pointers.
“Yogi’s decision making continues to get better,” Team USA head coach Bob McKillop (Davidson College) told USABasketball.com. “It’s a game that is vastly different than NCAA basketball. He drives the lane, and he’s not getting the calls he normally would get. He’s understanding how the easy pass is making our offense work. Yogi is doing a terrific job of understanding what we are trying to accomplish, and he is leading us there.”
Ferrell scored his 20 points in only 19 minutes of action, going 6-of-13 from the field.
“I felt like we attacked the rim a lot better offensively, Ferrell told USABasketball.com. “I was just picking my spots and being more aggressive, whether I was going to get a shot or someone else. I was going to try to do whatever it took for us to score.”
Treveon Graham (VCU) joined Ferrell in double figures with 14 points. Indiana senior Will Sheehey added seven points and five rebounds off the bench on an efficient 3-of-5 shooting. Sheehey scored all seven of his points in the fourth quarter.
Even though the start of the season is months away, July is a critical month for college basketball.
Over three, four-day periods this month, the first of which begins later today, coaches will pound the pavement across the country to evaluate prospects. New names emerge. Old names can move up the priority list or fall off entirely.
And when it ends, coaches hope to have a clearer idea of which players will fit best with their program.
For Indiana, which is coming off 56 wins in two seasons, two top four picks in the 2013 NBA Draft and its first outright Big Ten title in 20 years, the understanding amongst the coaching staff for what it seeks is well established.
“What we’re searching for, what we’re looking for, even in this recruiting period, we have a great understanding of what we’re looking for,” assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Kenny Johnson said Tuesday at Cook Hall. “And if anything, maybe it puts more emphasis on why you really come to school — for your education, for your player development, and the family environment that’s not going to sustain for the next four years of your life, but the next forty years.”
With a strong culture that’s been built over five years, Indiana won’t make any sacrifices on the type of player it seeks to recruit. The program has signed three five-star players over the past three seasons, but just produced a three-star player who graduated in three years and went to Orlando with the No. 2 pick in Victor Oladipo.
The commitment and subsequent signing of Oladipo drew little fanfare at the time, but was one of the most important developments in IU’s recruiting under Tom Crean. Not only did Oladipo help establish the aforementioned culture, he also showed that IU can produce pros who don’t come in with McDonald’s All-American accolades.
“It’s not always going to be a “highly credentialed player,” that we’re always seeking,” Johnson said. “We’re seeking the best people that fit into what we’re trying to get accomplished here.”
Indiana already has a strong start to its 2014 class with the commitment of James Blackmon Jr., the No. 25 player in the country according to ESPN.com.
Considering how much experience Indiana lost at the end of last season, it would seem losing veteran leaders like Will Sheehey and Yogi Ferrell to the World University Games would temporarily halt the Hoosiers’ offseason back in Bloomington.
After all, without Sheehey and Ferrell, there are few players that have been around for more than a year. Sheehey and Ferrell are expected to lead the team next season, and they aren’t around to instill their will on the incoming freshmen.
But perhaps their absence can actually be viewed as a good thing. With Sheehey and Ferrell gone, other guys have been forced to step up.
“You don’t have Will and Yogi out there as much right now so it’s allowed some younger players to be vocal, to go ahead and know that’s the expectation,” associate head coach Steve McClain told the media on Tuesday. “It’s also allowed Jeremy [Hollowell], Hanner [Mosquera-Perea], who would probably take a little backseat to Will and to Yogi right now, to step up and be that returning veteran even though they’re only sophomores.
“It’s been a good mix to have those guys be away for a little bit.”
Earlier this summer, Tom Crean talked at length about how guys like Hollowell and Mosquera-Perea had to develop ‘desires to compete’ during the offseason. With many of last season’s leaders now either graduated, in the NBA or out of the country, Hollowell and Mosquera-Perea have had more of an opportunity to spread their wings and experiment a bit.
Specifically, associate head coach Tim Buckley said Mosquera-Perea has really had a strong offseason, for a couple of key reasons.
“I think anyone’s better doing something once they’ve already been through it,” Buckley said Tuesday. “How would you feel if you were Hanner and you had to walk in there every day and had to go against Cody Zeller? Would that really boost your confidence on a daily basis? Probably not. But he kept fighting and he kept working and he kept getting through it. And now what you see is a guy that’s much more confident because he’s been through that.”
If the Hoosiers are to remain a top 10 or 15 team next season, guys like Mosquera-Perea will have to dramatically increase their production from a year ago. He’s certainly got the talent to do so, but he looked uncomfortable on the court for much of his freshman year.
Will Sheehey scored in double digits against both United Arab Emirates (15 points) and the Czech Republic (10 points) for Team USA in pool play at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia.
Two minutes of highlights from his performance in both games are below: