Offseason storylines: What kind of season will Sheehey have?

012413564Welcome to offseason storylines, a look into some of the biggest storylines surrounding the 2013-2014 Indiana Hoosiers. Next up, we tackle this question: What kind of senior season will Will Sheehey have?

Will Sheehey has waited his turn, and now it’s his time to lead in Bloomington. Over the last three years, he’s gone from overlooked prospect to role player to the Big Ten’s sixth man of the year.

What will his next role be?

That’s the question as Sheehey prepares for his senior season at Indiana. He’s one of two scholarship seniors on the roster, and he must be one of the Hoosiers’ main leaders this season. Sure, the freshmen will have to fill a major void, and Yogi Ferrell will factor into the team’s leadership, but Indiana’s success this coming season will depend largely on what kind of a season Sheehey has.

When Sheehey is on his game, he has the ability to positively affect the game on both ends of the floor. He was one of the team’s top defenders a year ago, and he has a mid-range game unlike many in college basketball.

But for three years, Sheehey hasn’t been called upon to carry the load offensively or be the team’s leader on defense (that was Victor Oladipo). Sheehey was the energy guy off the bench, a player you could count on for 10 points a game.

The question now is whether Sheehey can move into the starting lineup and be one of Indiana’s primary scoring options. In the past, he didn’t have to be. He might still not even have to be with guys like Noah Vonleh, Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell on the roster.

But will he try to be?

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Crean on Oladipo, Zeller legacies, next year’s team

Tom Crean sat down with Andy Katz of ESPN.com earlier this week at the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando, Florida and discussed a variety of topics including how Indiana will try to replace Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, how he dealt with losing in his first three seasons and more.

Here are some notable quotes from that conversation:

· On how hard it was to deal with losing: “Extremely. (I) changed a lot from that, I don’t think there’s any question. You realize that you better put what really matters first and that’s your faith in God, your family, the well being of your family and your coaches’ families and your players. That’s the stuff. You’ve got to keep searching for ways to find a way to win. And I think that’s the driving force. How do we find a way to win this next game? Even when you didn’t, to come back again the next day. That’s where the frustration was met with great opportunity. And we tried to make it as great an opportunity as we could.”

· On the legacies of Zeller and Oladipo at Indiana: “I think it’s just beginning. I think it’s got to be leadership now. I think when Cody and Victor come back to the gym in the summertime, they’ve got to help lead the young players. They’ve got to continue to … when they see something in the program, they’ve got to say, ‘no, this is how we do it here’ or ‘this is the way it needs to be done here.’ Those are the guys who helped bring that to that level. But I think their legacy will be that they came into Indiana, one very unheralded in Victor and one very heralded in Cody, bonded together with another group of guys and helped make the Indiana program the blueblood that it had been used to being. And I think that’s the most important thing, that they can feel tremendous strength and pride in what they did and help bring it back.”

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag: July 25

061713jfvThe Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall) and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.

Kelin Mark writes: Is James Blackmon working his way to a McDonald’s All American?

There’s no doubt that Blackmon Jr. had a fantastic summer. He was one of the top scorers in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, made the All-Star team at the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp and averaged 20 points per game at the Nike Global Challenge.

He was probably already on the radar for many of the 37 members of the selection committee for the McDonald’s All-American Game coming into the summer, but his play this summer will only help further the case for his selection. Based on the commentary I’ve read on him this summer from a couple of people who are on the committee, which is made up of analysts, scouts, reporters and coaches, he’s clearly in the mix to make the team. — Alex Bozich

Toni Wilson Williams writes: All of last yrs group are now playing pro ball…where did Christian (Watford) sign??

Watford played for the Indiana Pacers and the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Summer League, but as of right now, hasn’t signed with a NBA team for next season. It’s possible he could get invited to a NBA training camp as an undrafted free agent, sign with a D-League team or go overseas. — Alex Bozich

John Cole writes: I was wondering where Derek Elston ended up.

Elston is finishing his Masters right now in Bloomington and will then head to Malta, where he’ll play for the Floriana Basketball Club. Malta is located in southern Europe in the Mediterranean Sea. He’s expected to report overseas sometime in September. — Alex Bozich

@jjclick17 writes: What’s level of interest in (Trevon) Bluiett? Seems like when a ’14 target commits elsewhere, IU looks at someone new. Are they waiting for him to trim his list before investing more into his recruitment?

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Derek Elston signs professional contract to play in Malta

121912aiFormer Indiana forward Derek Elston became the fourth player from last season’s Big Ten championship team to sign a professional contract earlier this week when the Tipton native inked a deal to play in Malta.

Here’s an official release from IU on the signing, including comments from Tom Crean and Elston:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Derek Elston, who will earn his Master’s Degree in Sport Administration from Indiana University this summer, has signed a professional contract with Floriana Francesco Fenech Greens in the Maltese Powerade League in Malta, an island located south of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea.

“We are excited that Derek has this opportunity,” Indiana head coach Tom Crean said. “He has continued to work hard since the season ended and he has developed a great spirit about himself after facing many physical challenges throughout his career. More than anything, however, Derek will leave IU this summer with two degrees in hand and for that, we are extremely proud.”

The Maltese Powerade League begins in October and runs into May. Last year, Floriana won the regular season title and defeated Athleta in a decisive fifth game of the playoff finals to claim their first-ever league championship in the 35 years the team has existed.

“The first thing that went through my mind was relief in being able to keep playing basketball and to live a dream of playing basketball professionally,” Elston said. “I couldn’t stop smiling after I signed that contract. They have really been telling me that they wanted me on their team. I was waiting on a couple other options to see if they would work out. But when they didn’t, they were quick to let me know that they were behind me 100 percent and told me that they wanted me. So I said yes and they sent me a contract and we got it done.”

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2014 point guard Ja’Quan Newton draws IU interest

072413hasWASHINGTON — Although Indiana has not offered him a scholarship, Ja’Quan Newton of Neumann-Goretti (Pa.) is a player the Hoosiers are beginning to show some interest in.

A 6-foot-2 point guard in the class of 2014, Newton said at last weekend’s Nike Global Challenge that Indiana has been in touch with his high school coach, Carl Arrigale, and his Team Final AAU coach, Rob Brown.

“They just gave my head coach a call saying they like me and they want me to talk to the head coach and that they really like me a lot,” Newton told Inside the Hall. “They didn’t offer yet, but I think they’ll offer soon.”

Newton said that he has not yet spoken with a coach from the Hoosier staff, but that is more a matter of circumstance than lack of effort on IU’s end.

“[An Indiana coach called], but when he called me I wasn’t able to pick up the phone because I was getting my hair cut actually,” he said.

Newton said that IU is indeed a school that he “would be interested” in because of the style of play, the fact that it is a winning program and Tom Crean.

“He’s a great coach,” Newton said. “I don’t know him personally, but as from [what I can tell] on TV and all that, he’s a great coach.”

As for his recruitment as a whole, Newton listed offers from Miami, Villanova, Temple, Cincinnati, SMU, Minnesota, USC, and Syracuse. In addition to IU, Newton said UCLA is another school expressing interest that has yet to offer.

He noted that Villanova, Miami, USC, Minnesota and Cincinnati are recruiting him the hardest at this point. He’s visited Villanova and Temple, two local schools, unofficially thus far and will begin taking more visits after trimming his list of schools to five. That will come after July.

Indiana jumping into the race late doesn’t necessarily mean that Newton won’t the Hoosiers for a visit.

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Continued improvement of Ferrell, Sheehey is key for IU

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If Indiana is to contend for another Big Ten championship in 2014, the Hoosiers will rely heavily on seven newcomers to do so.

But as important as guys like Noah Vonleh, Troy Williams and Evan Gordon, among others, will be next season, the offseason progress of Will Sheehey and Yogi Ferrell might loom larger.

That’s why it was important that Ferrell and Sheehey maximized the time they spent with USA Basketball over the last month in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Kazan, Russia preparing for and participating in the 2013 World University Games.

The natural reaction to Ferrell and Sheehey, the only two returning players to have logged significant minutes in the program, leaving for a month during a pivotal offseason time was to wonder how it might affect their teammates who remained in Bloomington.

The early returns suggest that Ferrell and Sheehey both return from the experience as better players, which should ultimately trickle down to improving the program overall.

“He (coach Crean) told me to go over and enjoy the experience and learn how they play, internationally, and bring back what I can to the program here,” Ferrell said Tuesday. “And to try to help some of the young guys out and the other guys that weren’t over there by sharing my knowledge about what we need to do to be successful this year.”

What Indiana is going to need to do to be successful is replace four 1,000 point career scorers, two of whom were NBA lottery picks, and two other players who decided to transfer.

How quickly and effectively Ferrell and Sheehey can step into more prominent roles with their production and leadership will be the foundation of that process.

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IU among schools in heavy pursuit of Robert Johnson

071413WASHINGTON – Robert Johnson of Benedictine (Va.) is a player who has seen his stock rise significantly over the past month. The class of 2014 combo guard has started to reel in high-major offers and he includes Indiana among that group.

At the Nike Global Challenge, Johnson said he has offers from Marquette, Villanova, Indiana, Florida State, Miami, Wake Forest, and Alabama, among others. North Carolina and Syracuse have also expressed interest, but have not offered.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound guard, who plays for Boo Williams, talked about what he is looking for as he surveys his options.

“Just somewhere I would fit style of play-wise and go in and have an opportunity to play,” he said.

Location will not be a factor for Johnson, but the style of play will be near the top of his priority list.

“Where they let their guards play,” Johnson said, “ball screens, high-tempo offense, things like that.”

There are five schools that Johnson feels are coming at him the hardest right now are Alabama, Villanova, Florida State, Indiana, and Miami.

Johnson has been on unofficial visits to Virginia, Wake Forest and Villanova, but does not have any other trips set up right now. Earlier this month, Johnson said he would “definitely” visit Indiana.

A four-star prospect according to ESPN.com, Johnson has no timetable for his choice. The increased exposure as a result of his play in July has been nice, but also tiring at times.

“It’s been fun. At the same time, I’m starting to kind of get exhausted a little bit,” Johnson said. “So, I’m just [going to] try to cut down my list and then make a decision as soon as I know what school is good for me.”

Johnson said he is not sure of how many schools he will trim his list down to or of any schools that are sure to make the cut. He’s planning to cut his list of schools after July.

Indiana offered Johnson after the Peach Jam where he averaged 20.2 points and shot 46.2 percent on 3-pointers. Johnson had three double figure scoring games at the Nike Global Challenge.

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Ferrell, Sheehey prepare to lead Indiana together

070813chxWhen basketball season rolls around, the Indiana program will no longer be run by guys like Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller. Those former Hoosier standouts will be replaced by senior Will Sheehey and sophomore Yogi Ferrell, two guys that will likely carry the leadership torch into next season.

Sheehey and Ferrell haven’t always had the greatest relationship. Sheehey thought Ferrell arrived on campus last summer a little bit “too Hollywood” and tried to put him in his place early in the season.

The duo learned to work together as the year progressed, and they just got back from the World University Games in Russia, where they were teammates and roommates.

The Hoosiers have a lot to replace from last year’s Sweet Sixteen team, and much of their success this season will likely depend on how well Sheehey and Ferrell can lead the team together.

“Well, we still don’t like each other,” Sheehey said Tuesday with a smile on his face. “So that’s about it.”

After a pause, Sheehey continued.

“Obviously Yogi and I were excited to make the team. We both wanted to and he was playing absolutely fantastic in Colorado so I knew he was a lock. It was more me that was on the fence. It was a great experience for both of us.”

Sheehey returns as the only senior on the roster to play his entire career at Indiana. He’s been through both the good times and the bad, the winning and the losing.

Ferrell hasn’t ever seen the other side. Indiana is 29-7 with a Sweet Sixteen appearance and a Big Ten championship since Ferrell arrived on campus.

Ferrell was a highly ranked recruit. Sheehey wasn’t. Ferrell started from day one. Sheehey has always played off the bench. Ferrell is an Indiana native. Sheehey is from Florida.

The differences are evident. But the similarities are more important. Both players have been through it before, and both are hungry to take the program a step further.

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HD Video: Will Sheehey, Yogi Ferrell talk USA Basketball experience

Indiana senior Will Sheehey and sophomore guard Yogi Ferrell met with the media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss their experiences in Kazan, Russia with USA Basketball for the 2013 World University Games.

Watch and listen to both press conferences in the embedded media players below:

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IU offers 2017 prospects Paul Scruggs and Zach Gunn

072313Since taking the Indiana job in April of 2008, Tom Crean has taken a relentless approach in pursuing the top players in the state of Indiana at an early age.

James Blackmon Jr. committed to the program before his freshman season back in September of 2010. Eron Gordon, the younger brother of former Hoosier Eric Gordon and current IU guard Evan Gordon, received an offer before his freshman season.

Indiana’s aggressive approach has continued into the class of 2017 as the Hoosiers offered scholarships to Paul Scruggs (pictured) and Zach Gunn, a pair of AAU teammates for the Indy Hoosiers, on Monday.

Scruggs, a 6-foot-3 guard, will play next season at Southport for Kyle Simpson and Gunn, a 6-foot-6 forward, will enroll at Hamilton Southeastern to play for Brian Satterfield.

Both players took an unofficial visit to Indiana in June and the staff has tracked both players since last year.

“We kind of saw it and thought that something like this would happen early because of their size and their ability,” Mike Peterson, the coach for the Indy Hoosiers, told Inside the Hall on Tuesday. “You can sometimes look at a kid and see that they’re special and project them out to be pretty good. It wasn’t all that shocking to me.”

Peterson described Scruggs as “the ultimate slasher” who has continued to improve his perimeter shot and Gunn as “probably the best shooter in the country” who can also defend the post and drive the ball.

Indiana is the first school to offer both players, but the duo has also received interest from Xavier, Purdue, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Ohio State and Memphis.

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