Freshman Focus: Devin Davis

061313hfcsw“Freshman Focus” is an Inside the Hall series on each of Indiana’s six incoming freshman. Over the last week and a half, we’ve examined the impact each freshman can have for the Hoosiers next season. Today, our series concludes with Devin Davis. 

When Devin Davis’ high school season ended at Warren Central in February, he didn’t wait long to get back to work and begin preparing for his freshman season at Indiana. Davis took about a week off to rest, then got right back to work.

“His dad said [Devin] will call him at odd hours and say, ‘Dad, I wanna get in the gym,'” said Matt Green, Davis’ AAU coach with the Eric  Gordon All-Stars. “You used to have to tell him to go work out. It’s not that way anymore.”

When Indiana’s basketball season begins next winter, Davis won’t be relied upon to score many points or take many shots. The offense won’t be run through him.

But that doesn’t mean Davis, who was the first in the 2013 class to sign with Indiana, won’t make an impact for the Hoosiers as a freshman next season.

“One of the areas he fits in is being that high energy guy off the bench that can come in and maybe provide that spark,” Green said. “He can defend different positions, rebound the basketball. There’s always time for those types of guys.”

Davis, a 6-foot-6 forward who is unranked by ESPN.com, will arrive on campus on Sunday to begin working out with his new teammates and preparing for his collegiate career. During the offseason, Davis has spent time working with Eric Gordon Sr. on ways to get by his man and score at the rim, along with a number  of other areas of his game.

“He’s worked on his ball handling, just different ways to score the basketball, being able to attack the basket,” Green said. “He’s definitely been working on his jump shot, trying to extend his range and how his form is so he can shoot it at a high level.”

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Freshman Focus: Troy Williams

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“Freshman Focus” is an Inside the Hall series on each of Indiana’s six incoming freshman. Over the next couple of weeks, we will examine what kind of an impact each player can have for the Hoosiers next season. Today: Troy Williams. (Photo via 247Sports)

When Troy Williams transferred from Phoebus High School to Oak Hill Academy before his senior year of high school, he was very much an unpolished basketball player with ridiculous athleticism.

“He was a freak athlete that I felt when I got him didn’t have a real great feel for how to play,” said Oak Hill coach Steve Smith. “I thought, ‘Man, he takes some bad shots, forces up stuff.'”

Smith knew he had plenty to work with in Williams, but it wasn’t always easy to get him to understand how things worked at Oak Hill. Williams had come from a public high school were he was the unquestioned star. He could take any shot he wanted, and he didn’t have to work particularly hard to earn those shots.

At Oak Hill, one of the premier prep schools in the country, it was different. Whereas Williams’ fall months at Phoebus would be spent almost entirely on the basketball court, he was required to work on his body away from the gym much more at Oak Hill.

The team had to run the mile on a daily basis in addition to their weight lifting and speed and agility work during the offseason.

“He wasn’t the most motivated guy when he first got here,” Smith said. “He did it, but at first it was like, ‘Wow, we have to do this all the time?’ He wasn’t used to that. He hadn’t done that before.”

The good thing for Williams is the wake-up call came during his senior year of high school and not his freshman year of college. The 6-foot-6 forward arrived on campus Tuesday and now should have a much better understanding of what it will take to get regular minutes at the collegiate level.

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2014 guard JaQuan Lyle says relationships are strongest with Crean, Pitino

071712It’s been a busy couple of weeks for class of 2014 Evansville Bosse guard JaQuan Lyle.

On June 1, Lyle worked in a stop at Indiana while in town to watch a friend compete in the state track meet and followed that up with an unofficial visit to Louisville on June 9. In between, Lyle participated in practices and a pair of exhibitions for the Indiana Junior All-Stars against Kentucky.

Speaking after the Indiana Juniors dismantled Kentucky 86-73 on Saturday at St. Xavier, the five-star guard said that out of the head coaches recruiting him, he has the best relationship with Tom Crean and Rick Pitino.

“They just care about you as a person first before they care about you as a player,” Lyle said. “That’s what I really like and I think that’s what I really need.

“Coach Crean is a great person. He cares about you as a person and that’s what I really like.”

Indiana was the first school to offer Lyle in late 2010 and are one of the final seven schools he’s considering along with Louisville, Ohio State, Tennessee, Illinois, UCLA and Florida.

He said he plans to follow up his most recent visit to Bloomington with another unofficial next week after he returns from the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“I just went over, talked to Coach Crean, watched film and watched them workout,” he said of the June 1 visit. “Pretty much just talked to them and had fun. I’ll probably take another visit this month, like an actual unofficial and play up and down with them.”

The next couple of weeks for Lyle will be full of travel as he’ll play in the Indiana Junior-Senior All-Star exhibition games, attend the NBPA Top 100 Camp, the Nike point guard Skills Academy, the LeBron James Skills Academy and play in front of college coaches at the EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam.

In early May at the Hensley Memorial Spiece Run-N-Slam Classic, Lyle talked about making a fall decision, but said in Louisville that he doesn’t have a definite timetable.

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Dante Exum leaning toward Indiana, attending college in states

011812Class of 2014 guard Dante Exum, who took an official visit to Indiana in early January for the Minnesota game, told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com at the adidas Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy that the Hoosiers are the favorite to sign him.

“Australian SG Dante Exum, a rising star, tells me Indiana U in the recruiting lead to sign him for 2014-15. His only visit so far,” Howard-Cooper tweeted today.

Exum, who could be eligible for the 2014 NBA Draft, also told Cooper that he’s planning to attend college.

“My gut tells me right now I’m going to college,” Exum told Howard-Cooper.

Many draft experts had suggested in recent months that Exum, who plays at the Australian Institue of Sport in Canberra, could forego college altogether and enter the draft.

His performance at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland in April fueled that speculation when he scored 16 points (6-of-8 FG, 3-of-5 FT) to go along with three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block in a 112-98 win for the World Team over Team USA.

After his visit to Bloomington, Exum told Inside the Hall that he was very impressed by the IU program.

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HD Video: James Blackmon Jr. perfect from field in Junior All-Stars win

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — 2014 Marion guard and IU commitment James Blackmon Jr. went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field on Saturday night as the Indiana Junior All-Stars beat Kentucky 86-73 at St. Xavier High School.

Blackmon Jr. finished with 13 points and with a total of 40 points in two wins over Kentucky, a team-high. Watch all five of Blackmon Jr.’s buckets from Saturday in the embedded media player below:

Freshman Focus: Noah Vonleh

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“Freshman Focus” is an Inside the Hall series on each of Indiana’s six incoming freshman. Over the next couple of weeks, we will examine what kind of an impact each player can have for the Hoosiers next season. Today: Noah Vonleh.

Of Indiana’s six incoming freshmen, Noah Vonleh figures to have the biggest role, responsibilities and impact right away.

Vonleh, the last of the 2013 recruits to commit, is the prize of the class. He’s a 6-foot-9, 230-pound power forward with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and a skill set not common for someone his size and age. He’ll turn 18 in late August.

Vonleh, ranked 13th in the 2013 class by ESPN.com, has an above average post-up game and also possesses the ability to go out on the perimeter and knock down a 3-pointer. Oh, and he averaged 11.8 rebounds per game as a senior at the New Hampton School (N.H.) and he plays defense, too.

“He fits the physical characteristics already to play at that level,” said Vin Pastore, Vonleh’s mentor and AAU coach for Mass Rivals. “He can rebound at any level, anywhere right now. He’s going to be able to do that immediately at Indiana. If you look at his skill set, you’ll see he’s polished for a big guy. He handles the ball extremely well, he has great touch.

“Have you shaken his hand yet? Go shake his hand. It’s as hard as a catcher’s mitt. And usually when a kid’s hands are like that, you don’t have the touch. But he defies everything.”

Vonleh is already on campus and began working out with some of his Indiana teammates on June 3. He’s also currently taking summer school classes. Indiana coach Tom Crean has continually raved about Vonleh on his Twitter account ever since he arrived in Bloomington, marveling at his desire to get better and his commitment to stay in the gym.

Crean tweeted that he believes Vonleh will soon be a ‘365 day’ guy for the Hoosiers and said he’s a McDonald’s All-American “with no entitlement issues”.

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James Blackmon Jr. perfect from field as Indiana Juniors sweep Kentucky

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Indiana Junior All-Stars needed overtime to fend off the Kentucky Junior All-Stars on Friday night at Greenfield-Central.

On Saturday night at St. Xavier High School, a more focused and sharp group showed up and easily dispatched of the Kentucky Juniors, 86-73.

Indiana commitment James Blackmon Jr. shot a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and finished with 13 points, bringing his total in the two-game series to 40 points, a team-high.

“Yesterday we didn’t start out with intensity. We just came out kind of stiff,” Blackmon Jr. said. “Today I thought we picked up our defense and that brought our offense along.”

The Indiana Juniors shot 53 percent from the field and had five players besides Blackmon Jr. with eight or more points, including Tech’s Trey Lyles (18 points), Plymouth’s Mack Mercer (10 points), Park Tudor’s Trevon Bluiett (8 points), Greensburg’s Bryant McIntosh (8 points) and Guerin Catholic’s Aaron Brennan (8 points).

The next test for the Juniors will be a pair of exhibitions against the Indiana All-Stars beginning on Monday at Sullivan.

The two teams will also square off Wednesday night at Tipton.

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