Scouting notes: 2013 Derby Festival Basketball Classic

042113dncLOUISVILLE, Ky. — One of the final opportunities to watch five of IU’s 2013 signees before they arrive in Bloomington in early June came over the weekend at Freedom Hall in the 2013 Derby Festival Basketball Classic.

The all-star game has become a regular stop for IU recruits in recent seasons as Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and several others have participated. Inside the Hall was in attendance at Wednesday’s closed practice, Thursday’s night of the future stars event at Floyd Central and Friday’s game, which was won by the black team featuring all five IU signees, 124-113.

Here are game statistics, observations and scouting notes on all five guys:

· Troy Williams – 21 points (9-13 FG, 2-2 3PFG, 1-1 FT), five rebounds (two offensive), four assists, two turnovers, one block in 18 minutes

Williams walked away with MVP honors for the black team and there’s a good argument to made that he was the best player on the floor on Friday. That wasn’t the case in Wednesday’s closed practice as he forced some shots and didn’t finish particularly well around the rim. Williams was once ranked as high as No. 6 nationally in the 2013 class and he’s an elite athlete that gets into the lane and finishes plays with dunks. While the setting of an all-star game doesn’t lend itself to defense or rebounding being areas of focus, Williams has the tools to be very good in both areas. He’s a long, high motor player with the ability to score in a variety of ways, which should earn him minutes from day one in Bloomington.

· Collin Hartman – 7 points (2-7 FG, 1-5 3PFG, 2-2 FT), four rebounds (all offensive), two steals, one assist in 18 minutes

Hartman’s forte is perimeter shooting, but it wasn’t his week to excel in that area. He struggled in the 3-point contest and in the game, but all was not lost as he found other ways to make an impact. Hartman was active on the glass with four offensive rebounds and also had two steals. Health has been an issue for Hartman over the past year as he battled concussions and also a wrist injury that forced him to miss time during the past high school season. He said he’s ultimately emerged stronger from missing time and said that unlimited gym access is what he’s looking forward to most in college. With work in the weight room, there’s potential for Hartman to grab a role as early as next season.

· Luke Fischer – 12 points (5-7 FG, 2-3 FT), six rebounds (three offensive), three steals, two blocks, one assist, one turnover in 17 minutes

Fischer is often compared to Cody Zeller and it’s a comparison that makes some sense because of their similar games and build. Zeller probably has a solid two inches on Fischer in shoes, but much like the former IU All-American, the Wisconsin native is a sound post player who understands how to play the game. Fischer was efficient all week in Louisville and didn’t need the ball thrown to him to make an impact. His footwork and ability to catch the ball are both very good and while he’s probably not the athlete Zeller is, he finishes well through contact and runs the floor hard. He’s also a very good passer who can come out to the high post and find his teammates. Like most incoming players, adding strength to prepare for the rigors of the Big Ten will be key, but the tools are present for Fischer to play significant minutes early.


That’s A Wrap: Offense

IUUNCITH0013Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our recap of the 2012-2013 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Indiana’s offense.

Final stats (36 games): 78.6 ppg, 48.2 FG %, 54.8 eFG %, 40.3 3P FG%, 74.3 FT %, 45.9 % FTR.

Indiana’s offense was once again elite in 2012-2013, and paired with a much improved defense that wasn’t present in 2011-2012, the Hoosiers spent a majority of the regular season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press top 25 poll.

Despite a tough last month in which it scored just 1.03 points per possession, Indiana finished the season with the nation’s second best offense at 1.21 points per trip. That was up slightly over last season when IU finished at 1.206.

The improvement was a bit more defined in Big Ten play where IU scored 1.136 points per possession compared to 1.112 last season.

Once again, the efficiency was led by Cody Zeller’s presence in the middle, getting to the foul line and IU’s ability to find shooters on the perimeter. Zeller’s biggest impact was in getting to the foul line, where he posted a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 73.2. Indiana shot 904 free throws and made 672 of those attempts compared to 563 attempted for its opponents. Offensive rebounding was a big area of improvement this season as Indiana rose from 59th nationally in on the offensive glass all the way up to seventh. Both Zeller and Victor Oladipo ranked in the top seven in the Big Ten in offensive rebounding.

The 3-point shooting percentage was down from last season, but was still fourth best nationally with four guys — Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford, Oladipo and Remy Abell — finishing at better than 40 percent. After shooting better than 41.2 percent in each month from November through February, the Hoosiers managed just 31.5 percent from behind the arc in March, which was a big reason the offense sputtered down the stretch.

The offense was again incredibly balanced with five guys scoring 9.5 points per game or more and a sixth, Yogi Ferrell, averaging 7.6. The two biggest movers year-over-year were Oladipo and Watford. After an up-and-down sophomore season, Oladipo put it all together as a junior and finished seventh nationally in effective field goal percentage (64.8). Watford shot a ridiculous 48.4 percent on threes, which was up nearly five percent from his junior season and almost 17 percent from where he finished as a freshman.


Recruiting Roundup: Nike EYBL Los Angeles

042113ewerThis weekend marked the first of two April evaluation periods, and one of the nation’s top events was session one of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) in Los Angeles.

Tom Crean and assistant Kenny Johnson were on hand at different points throughout the weekend tracking James Blackmon Jr. and various prospects being recruited for 2014, 2015 and beyond.

Here’s a rundown of how many of the names on the IU radar performed over the weekend:

· James Blackmon Jr., Spiece Indy Heat: Indiana’s lone commitment in the 2014 class had a terrific weekend in Los Angeles. Blackmon Jr. averaged 19.0 points and 4.8 rebounds and shot 53.4 percent from the field. Blackmon’s high scoring game of the weekend (21 points) came in a 72-69 loss to Team Texas Pro, which features five-star point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. Spiece Indy Heat finished the weekend 2-2.

· Theo Pinson, CP3 All-Stars: Pinson (pictured), who is one of IU’s top recruiting targets in the 2014 class, had a tough weekend shooting the ball as he hit just 32.6 percent of his shots over four games. His weekend averages were 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 1.5 assists and one block per game. Pinson, who has already taken an official visit to Bloomington, has Indiana in his top three schools.

· Trevon Bluiett, Spiece Indy Heat: Bluiett’s weekend ended prematurely as he did not play in Sunday’s game after suffering a knee sprain. In three games, the Park Tudor senior-to-be averaged 18.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals and shot 47.1 percent from behind the 3-point line. Bluiett worked in an unofficial visit to UCLA following the EYBL event.

· JaQuan Lyle, Spiece Indy Heat: As is typically the case with Lyle, he found ways to fill the statsheet besides simply scoring the ball. Over four games, the combo guard averaged 7.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.8 steals. His turnover numbers, however, were a bit high at 3.5 per game. Lyle’s list of schools remains at six with Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisville, Ohio State and Tennessee in the running.

· Elijah Thomas, Team Texas Elite: Thomas, who we profiled back in January, is one of the elite players nationally in the 2015 class. His list of suitors is full of the nation’s elite programs and Thomas played well in Los Angeles, averaging 15.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 19.8 minutes per game. One area where the 6-foot-9, 225-pound Texas big man didn’t excel was the free throw line, where he hit just 12-of-25 attempts for 48 percent.

· Phil Booth, Team Takeover: Booth, who took an unofficial visit to Bloomington for the Michigan game last February and said he expects to be back this fall for an official visit, left Los Angeles with Team Takeover unbeaten in EYBL play at 4-0. Booth averaged 10.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals in 22.0 minutes per game.


Video: Dante Exum highlights at Nike Hoop Summit

Indiana recruiting target Dante Exum (class of 2014, Australian Institute of Sport) helped the World Team beat Team USA 112-98 at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore., on Saturday night.

Exum showed off his ability to get to the basket and scored 16 points (6-of-8 FG, 3-of-5 FT) to go along with three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.

His highlights:

HD Video: Troy Williams wins MVP at Derby Festival Basketball Classic

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — 2013 Indiana signee Troy Williams scored a game-high 21 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out four assists and had a block as he won MVP honors at the 2013 Derby Festival Basketball Classic on Friday at Freedom Hall. Williams also was runner-up in the event’s dunk contest.

Inside the Hall has compiled over 20 high-definition clips of the versatile wing from the event, including footage from the dunk contest, in the embedded media player below:

HD Video: IU signees react to Derby Festival Classic win

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Five Indiana signees combined for 60 points on Friday night in Freedom Hall as the Black team defeated the White team, 124-113, in the 40th annual Derby Festival Basketball Classic.

Inside the Hall caught up with Stanford Robinson, Luke Fischer and Collin Hartman postgame for their reaction to the win:


Williams wins MVP as IU signees prevail in Derby Festival Classic

041913wsdLOUISVILLE, Ky. — Troy Williams scored a game-high 21 points and captured MVP honors as the black team, featuring five Indiana signees, won the 2013 Derby Festival Basketball Classic 124-113 Friday night in Freedom Hall.

Williams shot 9-of-13 from the field, hit both of his 3-point field goal attempts and also had five rebounds, four assists and a block.

It was the 40th year for the event, which drew 10,205 fans, including many IU supporters.

The black team trailed 68-64 at halftime, but took control early in the second half as Williams set the tone with seven quick points.

Two other IU signees — Devin Davis and Luke Fischer — also scored in double figures. Davis finished with 14 points and eight rebounds and Fischer added 12 points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

Collin Hartman, who committed to Indiana in November of 2010, had seven points, four rebounds and two steals and Stanford Robinson, chipped in six points, four rebounds and four assists.

In total, the five Indiana signees scored 60 of the black team’s 124 points.

Indiana has been well represented in the game in recent years with Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Maurice Creek, Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls, Austin Etherington, Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Jeremy Hollowell among the players from last year’s Big Ten championship team who previously participated.

Goodluck Okonoboh “very intrigued” by Indiana offer

041913sdAs a former AAU teammate of 2013 signee Noah Vonleh, Indiana has tracked Goodluck Okonoboh closely for quite some time.

But that interest took the next step earlier this month as Tom Crean and assistant coach Kenny Johnson traveled to Wilbraham and Monson Academy near Boston to watch Okonoboh work out and extended a scholarship offer.

Okonoboh has earned a reputation as one of the premier shot-blockers in the country and the IU staff has made him a priority in its recruiting efforts for the 2014 class.

“I know he was very impressed with Coach Crean, as was I,” Wilbraham and Monson coach Chris Sparks told Inside the Hall this week. “He’s a professional in every sense of the word. Having a chance to watch them play this year and then also getting a chance to talk to him some more and meet him, I think he’s very impressed with them and also very intrigued by their interest and flattered.”

Originally a member of the 2013 class, Okonoboh reclassified to 2014 to work on his game and his body so that he’ll be ready to contribute from day one in college.

It’s a move that is paying major dividends for Okonoboh’s development, according to Sparks.

“I think his game has really evolved at this point from not only being a threat on the defensive end, but also the offensive end,” his coach said. “He’s been extremely focused in the offseason and determined to improve his game on the offensive end, being a threat inside and out. He’s also had a big improvement in his body. He’s put on some weight and his explosiveness has even improved a little bit. He’s becoming more of a complete player.”

At 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, Okonoboh, born in 1994 to Nigerian parents, is an imposing figure in the paint that can change games by altering and blocking shots. Off the court, according to Sparks, he shares a lot of similarities with his close friend Vonleh as a quiet and humble kid.

“He laughs a lot, he’s got a great smile. He’s just got a really  good personality,” Sparks said. “But on the court, it’s like a switch goes off. As a coach, it’s such a pleasure to be around because he’s so focused and determined.”


IU among top three schools for Theo Pinson, father says

071912Theo Pinson, a 2014 recruit from Greensboro, North Carolina remains “very high” on Indiana and currently has the Hoosiers in his top three schools, according to his father, Theo Pinson Sr.

“Yeah, they definitely would,” Pinson Sr. said of Indiana being in the top three. “He likes them. They’re up there right now.”

Pinson is ranked 13th in the 2014 class by and also has offers from Duke, Florida State, Georgetown, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, North Carolina and Ohio State. The Hoosiers offered a scholarship last May and have recruited Pinson diligently ever since.

Pinson Sr. said he son will likely make his college decision sometime in the fall.

“With school and AAU starting up, we don’t really have time for much else right now,” Pinson Sr. told Inside the Hall. “He’s just focusing on that for now.”

Pinson, a 6-foot-6 forward, attends Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, North Carolina. He already made an official visit to Indiana the weekend of the Michigan game that was featured on ESPN’s College GameDay in February. It was his second trip to Bloomington after making an unofficial in the summer of 2012.

He doesn’t currently have any other visits scheduled and likely won’t take anymore until the fall.

“It was great,” Pinson Sr. said of the official visit to IU. “It was the Michigan game. It don’t get too much better than that. It was awesome.”

As a junior, Pinson led Wesleyan Christian to its first state championship in 20 years, capturing the NCISAA 3A crown with a 59-49 win over Greensboro Day.


Incoming class sees opportunity for early minutes


LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With two starters graduating and two departing early for the 2013 NBA Draft, no Big Ten team will have more production and experience to replace next season than Indiana.

The Hoosiers lose four 1,000-point scorers in Christian Watford, Cody Zeller, Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo, and a key reserve in Remy Abell, who opted to transfer for his final two seasons.

Those five, along with Derek Elston, accounted for 72.1 percent of Indiana’s scoring and 65 percent of its rebounding.

If IU is to again compete for a Big Ten championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament, its six-man recruiting class, headlined by four ESPNU Top 100 recruits, will be a major factor. Rather than dwelling on who is leaving, the tone the incoming group is projecting this week at the Derby Festival Basketball Classic is one of opportunity for early minutes in what should be a fierce competition.

“It opens up spots for everyone on the team now,” Luke Fischer, who was recently named Mr. Basketball in Wisconsin, said Wednesday. “Fighting for playing time is going to be real tough for anyone coming in or staying.”

With Yogi Ferrell the projected starter at point guard and Will Sheehey, who Tom Crean has often called a “sixth starter,” also figuring to move into the lineup, up to three starting spots and other rotation spots will be up for grabs.

“I look at it like, the people who left, they could have helped us,” Stanford Robinson, who spent his senior season at Findlay Prep, said. “But at the same time, that’s good for me as well because it’s time for me to show people what I can do.”

The offseason development of both Robinson and Fischer, along with the size and versatility of five-star forward Noah Vonleh, could be paramount to next season’s success. The Hoosiers are short on ball handlers in the backcourt and also lack proven size on the front line.

Robinson, who has spent most of his prep career at the two-guard position, is preparing himself for college as a point guard and said he benefitted greatly from working alongside Washington signee and McDonald’s All-American Nigel Williams-Goss at Findlay.