2014 guard Phil Booth breaks down five finalists

061713jvxWASHINGTON – Phil Booth of Mount St. Joseph (Md.) has trimmed his list of schools down to a top five.

While at the Nike Global Challenge, Booth said he is working with a list that includes Villanova, Georgetown, Indiana, Virginia, and Temple. The No. 81 prospect in the class of 2014 according to ESPN.com seems firm with his list of five.

“Probably going to be set with that,” Booth told Inside the Hall. “I’m probably not going to open it up any more.”

The 6-foot-2 combo guard said he has offers from all five finalists and shared his thoughts on each school:

· Indiana: “They got the great tradition, I like the coaching staff they got and definitely the Big Ten is one of the best conferences there is out there.”

· Villanova: “Coach Jay Wright has a good history of good guards, so that’s definitely an attraction. I like their style of play. I like the coaching staff they got there.”

· Temple: “I like coach [Fran] Dunphy. He’s been around since my freshman year, sophomore year. So, I really like them, I like the way they play, their style.”

· Georgetown: “Of course tradition, I like coach [John] Thompson [III] and I really like the coaching staff they’ve got there.”

· Virginia: “I like coach [Tony] Bennett. He [has had] good guards, he played in the League and I’m trying to get there. So, I like him a lot too.”

Booth said that all five finalists are recruiting him hard and added that he’s got a good idea of what he’s looking for at this stage in the recruiting process.

“A place that I can succeed on and off the court,” he said. ” And a great coaching staff that I like and trust [and I can] play along with.”

Booth has been on unofficial visits to all of those schools except for Virginia. He also has one future visit scheduled.


Indiana offer “surreal” for 2016 guard Kyle Guy

One of the top young shooters in the midwest is the latest to receive a scholarship offer from Indiana.

Kyle Guy, a rising sophomore who averaged 13.5 points and 5.5 rebounds last season at Lawrence Central, picked up an offer from the Hoosiers during a conversation with Kenny Johnson and Tom Crean on Monday.

“He (Coach Crean) was telling me that they really liked me and that they’ve pretty much watched all of my games this whole July and that I’m a great fit at IU,” Guy told Inside the Hall on Monday night. “They don’t want me to worry about committing or anything like that, but said ‘we are going to offer you a scholarship today.'”

Guy, who has interest from several Big Ten schools and an offer from Indiana State, called the offer from Indiana “surreal.”

“It’s a real blessing. I’m honored to get a scholarship from a school that big and Indiana in particular,” he said. “It’s been a winning program and a winning tradition and when I do come down to picking my final schools in the years to come, I want that to be a priority, a winning tradition.”

The 6-foot-2 guard was one of the standouts at last weekend’s Under Armour Summer Jam in Indianapolis. He had multiple games of more than 20 points playing up two age groups for Men of the Family, his AAU program. The Indiana staff scouted him extensively in Milwaukee and in Indianapolis during the first evaluation period at the adidas Invitational.

Guy visited Indiana for “three or four” games this past season and also took an unofficial visit back in June.

“The number one thing that you can’t miss is the fanbase,” Guy said. “They’re pretty wild. I really like that about IU. The visit I took in June was a lot better because I got to tour the campus, talk to Coach Crean one on one and then play open gym with the guys. That was a great experience.”


James Blackmon Jr. dominant at Nike Global Challenge

061713jfvWASHINGTON – James Blackmon Jr. of Marion (Ind.) was one of about 15 committed players at this year’s Nike Global Challenge. A 6-foot-3 shooting guard, Blackmon has been committed to Indiana since September of 2010.

As the first Hoosier pledge in his class, Blackmon has talked to several IU targets about joining him in Bloomington.

“Yeah, I get into a lot of peoples’ ears,” Blackmon said. “Like at last camp I was at I talked to LeRon Black, he likes IU. I talked to Goodluck [Okonoboh], just guys who are interested and I just tell them it’s a great program.”

Blackmon, who is rated No. 25 in the ESPNU Top 100, went on to share what sense he has gotten from the two big men about what they are thinking.

“I think that LeRon, he really likes it and he also told me that he would love to play with me, a scorer,” he said. “And Goodluck just, we played together on the same team at the camp. He was like, ‘Dang, I want to play with a scorer like that.’”

Blackmon, who was on Team USA Midwest at the Nike Global Challenge, wasn’t doing much recruiting in the nation’s capital.

He was, however, a big reason for his team’s third place finish in the event. Despite being hampered by a sore left ankle, he averaged 20.0 points on 67.3 percent shooting from the field to go along with 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.

“It’s just all fun for me, just a real big opportunity for all of us really,” Blackmon said. “So, we all just wanted to go together and show what we can do and that’s what I think we did.”

IU assistant coach Kenny Johnson and Tom Crean were both at the Global Challenge to watch Blackmon and other recruits and the future Hoosier guard said he doesn’t feel any extra pressure to perform in front of his future coaches.


Indiana offers 2014 Phoenix big man Michael Humphrey

072013jcjxchIndiana coach Tom Crean watched class of 2014 Phoenix Sunnyslope (Az.) big man Michael Humphrey for the first time last weekend at the Reebok Breakout Challenge in Philadelphia.

He must have liked what he saw.

Less than a week later, Indiana offered the 6-foot-10 Humphrey a scholarship. Associate head coach Tim Buckley is in Dallas this weekend to watch Humphrey and his Arizona Magic AAU team, and he was the one to make the offer via text message.

“We’ve been talking about how the games have gone and how I played, what I did wrong, what I need to improve on,” Humphrey told Inside the Hall on Saturday. “During the (text) conversation, he was like, ‘By the way, we’re gonna offer you a scholarship.'”

Even though Crean was the first one on the Indiana staff to see Humphrey play live, Buckley has been recruiting him from the beginning. He began sending him handwritten letters some time ago, which helped the Hoosiers get involved in his recruitment.

“It’s definitely gotten a lot stronger,” Humphrey said of his relationship with Buckley. “We started off just kind of talking here and there, and things have definitely picked up. He seems really nice and really easy to talk to. I really like the relationship we have.”

Humphrey also has offers from Arizona, UCLA, USC, Texas, Vanderbilt and Virginia, among others. We did an extensive story on Humphrey just two days ago, in which we discussed the reason why he has flown under the radar until this point.

Humphrey wasn’t ready to say where Indiana ranks among his suitors.

“It’s a school I’m very interested in,” he said. “I really haven’t even started to narrow my list down. It’s obviously a great school that I have a lot of interest in.”

A source close to Humphrey told Inside the Hall that Indiana will “definitely” get one of Humphrey’s official visits this fall.

Ahmed Hill says relationship with Indiana remains strong

062013hcxcfsWASHINGTON — When listing the college coaches he has the best relationship with, the very first that comes to mind for Ahmed Hill is Tom Crean.

Hill, a class of 2014 prospect from Aquinas (Ga.), spoke with Inside the Hall while at the Nike Global Challenge and named a half dozen coaches has the strongest bonds with. Joining Crean were five other head coaches: Marquette’s Buzz Williams, Florida’s Billy Donovan, Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, Georgia’s Mark Fox, and Georgia Tech’s Brian Gregory.

When it comes to who is coming at him the hardest, Indiana was also the first school that Hill mentioned.

“Probably Indiana, Marquette, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, and Georgia Tech, and Tennessee, and Texas,” he said.

The 6-foot-5 shooting guard, ranked the No. 33 prospect nationally by ESPN.com, said that regular communication is a primary reason that Indiana is included in his top group of schools.

“Because me and coach [Tom] Crean talk pretty much every day,” Hill said. “When he sees me play bad he always shoots me a text, or when he sees me play good he’ll always shoot me a text. It doesn’t matter, he always texts me and talks to me every day.”

Those conversations don’t always center around basketball, according to the Georgia native, who averaged close to 30 points and 10 rebounds per game as a junior at Aquinas.

“We’ve got a great relationship,” Hill said. “We just talk pretty much about life, pretty much [about] coming to Indiana and how it would be.”

Hill has yet to take a visit to Bloomington, but says that Crean has kept him well informed on what it would be like to play for the Hoosiers.

“He just says how the atmosphere is,” Hill began, “how I would fit into his style of play perfectly, how I would help the team out and be a big-time player for them. They got a great campus I heard. I’m going to go check it out. It would be great to get up there and check it out.”

Hill has taken several unofficial visits so far, but all of them have been to schools in the southeast. Hill has visited Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, and Clemson. The rising senior said that all of those trips were unofficial.


Indiana a “dream school” for 2016 forward Miles Bridges

milesbridgesGoing into last week’s adidas Invitational, class of 2016 Flint Southwestern (Mi.) forward Miles Bridges was primarily hearing from local schools.

But after his performance at the event, where he was dominant at times for the Michigan Mustangs 16-and-under team, Bridges is on the rise nationally.

Scout.com national analyst Brian Snow named the 6-foot-5, 190 pound forward one of the top six performers at the event. With his combination of size, athleticism and strength, Bridges is difficult to contain. He acknowledged after a pool play game that he’s come a long way in recent months with his game.

“I’ve improved my shot, athleticism, my defense and rebounding,” Bridges said.

Bridges listed Oakland, Michigan, Iowa State and Michigan as the four schools primarily involved in his recruitment, but Indiana associate head coach Tim Buckley also watched him in Indianapolis.

He’s already visited Michigan State four times and Michigan once, but said that Indiana and Kansas share a unique distinction from the local schools he’s hearing from: They are his two dream schools.

“The crowd, I like the way the fans cheer them on. And I like the coaches,” he said of Indiana. “They work their players hard so they can get them ready for the NBA level. I want that.”

Bridges said Indiana has been one of his dream schools since he was 7. His father, Raymond Bridges, is a big reason why the younger Bridges has followed the Hoosier program.

“I think my Dad always wanted to go to Indiana,” he said. “He always talked about it.”

As a freshman, Bridges was named honorable mention all-state for Class A in Michigan. He said it’s possible that he’ll go to the prep school route beginning with his junior year — Huntington Prep in West Virginia was a school he mentioned — but he isn’t thinking much about a college decision at this point. (Update: It was announced Friday that Bridges will go to Huntington Prep next season.)

“I think I’ll make my decision my senior year,” Bridges said.


HD Video: Quentin Goodin at the 2013 adidas Invitational

INDIANAPOLIS — Class of 2016 Campbellsville (Ky.) guard Quentin Goodin has an early scholarship offer from Indiana and five other schools and participated in the training camp for the 2013-2014 USA Basketball Men’s developmental national team earlier this year.

Inside the Hall has compiled more than a minute of footage of Goodin, one of the top young guards in the midwest, at last week’s adidas Invitational in the embedded media player below:


· Quentin Goodin is a priority for Indiana in 2016 class
· 2016 guard Quentin Goodin excited by Indiana offer

Plenty of mutual interest between Michael Humphrey and Indiana

071813xMichael Humphrey has flown under the radar for some time now because of a thumb injury he suffered last year. It set the class of 2014 recruit back a bit and kept some of the major college programs from being able to watch him.

Humphrey isn’t under the radar anymore.

The 6-foot-10 big man from Phoenix, Ariz. impressed at last weekend’s Reebok Breakout Classic in Philadelphia and has picked up new interest from several schools.

“I’ve really been talking to some of the bigger schools for awhile but they haven’t really had a chance to see me play just because in the spring I had an injury,” Humphrey told Inside the Hall on Wednesday. “Reebok was really the first chance they had a chance to see me and after that, it has really picked up.”

Indiana coach Tom Crean was in Philadelphia to see Humphrey for the first time, and all indications are that he left impressed. The Hoosiers have not yet offered Humphrey a scholarship, but they plan to send a member of their coaching staff to see him play at a Dallas AAU event this weekend and an offer could be coming soon.

“There’s a lot of interest from both sides,” Humphrey said.

Indiana actually showed interest in Humphrey months ago. Associate head coach Tim Buckley regularly sent him handwritten letters, but the Hoosiers’  pursuit of Humphrey has increased significantly since Crean watched him last weekend.

“I thought I played pretty well at the Reebok camp and then I started talking a little bit to coach Crean so it’s been a great experience,” Humphrey said. “I’ve had really great conversations with him just telling me that I definitely need to keep improving but they really like the way I play.”

Humphrey, also a high school quarterback, has grown about three inches in the last year, and his AAU coaches said he isn’t finished growing yet.

“He’s gonna be close to 7-feet, if not more than 7-feet,” Arizona Magic coach Gino Crump told Inside the Hall. “He’s still got a baby face. Go look at videos of him, he still looks like a baby. Those growth plates are open.”


HD Video: Goodluck Okonoboh at the 2013 adidas Invitational

INDIANAPOLIS — Class of 2014 Wilbraham and Monson Academy (Ma.) forward Goodluck Okonoboh is a top recruiting target for programs like Duke, Indiana, Louisville and Syracuse and was one of the standouts of last week’s adidas Invitational in Indianapolis.

Inside the Hall has compiled more than six minutes of footage of Okonoboh, who was dominant at times for his Mass Rivals team, in the embedded media player below:


· Goodluck Okonoboh’s recruitment following similar path to that of Noah Vonleh
· Goodluck Okonoboh on shot blocking: “It’s an art”

Notebook: Vonleh adjusts to life as a Hoosier

NV001Ever since Noah Vonleh arrived on campus on May 29, the Indiana coaching staff has raved about the incoming freshman’s work ethic. Assistant coach Kenny Johnson went as far as to say Vonleh would move a cot into Cook Hall and sleep there if he could.

On Tuesday afternoon, Vonleh addressed the media for the first time as a Hoosier. The 6-foot-9 forward said he’s gained 20 pounds in the month and a half he’s been in Bloomington because of the team’s intense weight lifting workouts.

“I wasn’t used to that at prep school, so that was a big adjustment,” Vonleh said of the weight lifting. “I put on a lot of weight and am getting stronger.

“I just like to be in the gym all the time, getting better, getting my shot better because I’m going to be playing against a lot of guys that are a lot older than me next year.”

Vonleh recently participated in the LeBron James Skills Academy camp in Las Vegas as a college counselor. He was the youngest college player there (he’s 17 years old), but he managed to hold his own against some of the nation’s top talent.

“I went in there and worked hard,” Vonleh said. “I was talking a lot because a lot of the guys there weren’t really talking. [ESPN’s] Jay Bilas came up to me. He said, ‘Your leadership and talking can become a great strength if you keep working on it.'”

Vonleh and Bilas had an extended conversation in which Bilas told Vonleh to continue to work on staying low in the post, making his moves quick, and becoming more decisive when making a move.

Vonleh said he took those suggestions to heart and has worked on improving in those areas since he’s returned to the team.

“He’s a real good player,” sophomore forward Jeremy Hollowell said of Vonleh. “The biggest thing I’ve seen is that he’s willing to learn, he’s always wanting to improve his game, he’s coachable and just how hard he works day in and day out in practice. He’s always going to go hard and he’s always going to give it his best.”

Etherington not 100 percent, but close

Junior guard Austin Etherington isn’t yet back to full contact after fracturing his patella last December, but he continues to make progress in his rehabilitation.