Freshman Focus: Stanford Robinson

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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: Stanford Robinson. (Photo via 247Sports)

On an average Saturday afternoon last month, Findlay Prep coach Todd Simon was giving some families a tour of the Nevada private high school. He walked past the weight room around 3 p.m., and there was Indiana commit Stanford Robinson lifting by himself.

That’s just one example of the work ethic Robinson has developed at Findlay. Robinson, a 6-foot-4 guard, will arrive on campus in less than two weeks.

“He came a long way,” Simon, who coached Robinson for one season, said. “Stan loves basketball. A lot of guys, once they get to a certain level, become almost mini celebrities and they end up loving that part of it more than the game. I don’t think that’s happened with Stan.

“He doesn’t need somebody to drag him up there [to the weight room]. I don’t think he’s a buddy workout guy. I think he’s got an idea in his head, ‘This is what coach wants, this is what I gotta do. Coach says I need to do this, this is what I gotta do.’ He’s driven.”

With the graduation of Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo’s decision to leave school early for the NBA, the Hoosiers have a bit of a void in the backcourt. Rising sophomore Yogi Ferrell figures to start at point guard for the second consecutive season, but the starting shooting guard position appears to be wide open.

Arizona State transfer Evan Gordon is one option, but Robinson may be an even better one. He’s bigger than Gordon at about 6-foot-4, which would keep Indiana from starting two small guards like it did a season ago, something that could especially help on the defensive end.

“He’s rangy, he gets his hands on a lot of balls,” Simon said. “He’s a strong guard. He can compete with guys bigger than him because he’s competitive. In a lot of ways, he’s going to be ready to help early.

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Recruiting notebook: Vonleh highest ranked RSCI recruit in Crean era

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With final rankings released for all of the major recruiting services over the last month, the Recruiting Services Consensus Index (RSCI) was updated for last time for the 2013 class and four Indiana signees made the cut.

Noah Vonleh came in at No. 8 in the final RSCI update for 2013, making him the highest ranked recruit to-date in the Tom Crean era at Indiana.

Cody Zeller had previously held that distinction in the class of 2011, where he ranked No. 10.

Troy Williams was the second IU recruit on the list at No. 51, Stanford Robinson checked in at No. 61 and Luke Fischer was No. 71. Indiana is the only Big Ten school with four consensus top 100 recruits in the class of 2013.

Coleman leaving Cathedral

One of the top class of 2015 recruits in Indiana, Jalen Coleman, is leaving Cathedral and enrolling at La Lumiere in LaPorte.

Kyle Neddenriep of The Indianapolis Star was the first to report the transfer, which appears to be a result of the financial strain of attending Cathedral.

“Cathedral is an excellent school and Jalen got a lot out of it,” Piankhi Lands, Coleman’s father, told Neddenriep. “He really grew up there the last two years. But as a family, we’re struggling a little bit financially, and Cathedral is a little bit out of our price range, especially if we had two kids going there. La Lumiere could offer a 100 percent scholarship.”

Coleman’s younger brother, Isaiah, is also expected to attend La Lumiere. Coleman is considering several schools, including Cincinnati, Clemson, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue and Providence.

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Offseason storylines: Will Indiana have a stronger bench?

052913cbvxWelcome to offseason story lines, a look into some of the biggest storylines surrounding the 2013-2014 Indiana Hoosiers. First up, we tackle this question: Will Indiana have a stronger bench next season?

Indiana’s depth was lauded as a strength going into the 2012-2013 season. With Will Sheehey, Remy Abell and Derek Elston all returning and a loaded 2012 recruiting class arriving, much was expected of Indiana’s second unit.

But when the dust settled following IU’s 60-51 loss to Syracuse in the East Region semifinal in Washington D.C., the performance of the bench left much to be desired with the exception of Sheehey, who walked away with Big Ten sixth man of the year honors.

Abell, who lacked confidence, disappeared during the conference season and averaged just 2.0 points on 32.4 percent shooting. Elston could never stay healthy and played in just 19 games. Jeremy Hollowell showed flashes of his potential, but struggled with his shooting (44.8 eFG%). Everyone else was essentially a non-factor when the competition rose to the highest level.

While Indiana is headed for a drop off in its first unit with the departures of Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford, will the Hoosiers have a stronger bench to rely on next winter?

To being tackling this question, we must first recognize that it’s highly unlikely that Indiana will have the consistent starting lineup it had a season ago. Tom Crean started the same lineup in every game but one in 2012-2013, but with roster turnover that includes seven new scholarship players, a set lineup may not become a reality until Big Ten season rolls around.

Assuming Yogi Ferrell maintains his spot as a starter at the point, Will Sheehey jumps into the lineup as the team’s leading returning scorer and five-star forward Noah Vonleh assumes a spot on the frontline, the other two spots could go in a variety of directions. Rather than speculating how those spots may shake out, let’s examine the depth of the roster beyond those three players (in no particular order):

Guards/Wings: Evan Gordon, Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson, Collin Hartman, Austin Etherington, Jonny Marlin
Forwards/Posts: Luke Fischer, Jeremy Hollowell, Devin Davis, Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Peter Jurkin

Regardless of how the the final backcourt spot shakes out (Gordon/Robinson/Williams), that leaves two guys who are capable of giving Crean the luxury he didn’t enjoy last season: Not having much, if any, drop off when going to the bench. It is, however, important to note, that some drop off has to be assumed when you’re subbing in Abell for a lottery pick in Oladipo, a McDonald’s All-American in Ferrell or a 1,000-point scorer in Hulls. Because Indiana won’t be as strong in its starting lineup next season, it’s much more reasonable to expect less of a drop off when the bench is deployed.

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Ahmed Hill’s relationship with Indiana continues to grow

052713ncnsThe list of suitors for class of 2014 guard Aquinas (Ga.) guard Ahmed Hill is impressive.

More than 15 schools have offered a scholarship to the 6-foot-5, 190-pound guard, including Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina State, Marquette, Miami (FL) and Tennessee. He’s also picked up recent interest from Florida, Louisville and North Carolina.

The Hoosiers offered a scholarship over a year ago and have remained firmly in the picture for the four-star prospect, who is taking his time with the process.

At the fourth Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) session in Minneapolis, Hill told Inside the Hall that his conversations with Tom Crean stretch beyond basketball.

“We talk about life a lot,” he said. “About how (going to) Indiana would set me up (prepare) for life. About how the atmosphere is up there. How the people are, the fan base. About me coming up there and getting a feel for it.”

Hill hasn’t scheduled any visits, but said that Indiana will be on the list of places he’ll see along with Florida and potentially North Carolina.

“I know I’m going to take a visit (to Indiana), but I don’t have a timetable yet,” he said.

As a junior at Aquinas, Hill averaged close to 30 points per game and was named the All-Area player of the year by The Augusta Chronicle. This spring and summer, he’s playing with Southern Stampede, where he’s averaging 12.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in EYBL play.

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Healthy Richardson putting up big numbers in EYBL play

052713bcbswAfter missing the first two Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) sessions with a fractured wrist, class of 2015 guard Malachi Richardson returned for the final two sessions and picked up right where he left off.

Wearing tape on his wrist, Richardson said he feels like himself again over the weekend at EYBL Minneapolis.

“It’s just to keep it steady,” he said of the tape on his surgically repaired wrist. “It’s a mind thing for me, I don’t want to fall on it again and mess anything up, but it’s 100 percent now.”

The time off was tough for Richardson, who was unable to shoot or participate in any basketball activity during the healing process.

“I was just able to run and try to stay in shape,” Richardson said. “But being in basketball shape is totally different from just running around a track.”

The time off hasn’t hurt the rising junior’s production on the floor in the highly competitive EYBL, where Richardson plays for Team Final. The Philadelphia-based program finished the weekend 4-1 in Minneapolis and earned a Peach Jam bid.

The 6-foot-6, 180-pound Richardson is averaging 15.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists on 44.3 percent shooting in nine EYBL games.

His recruitment has continued to attract new suitors with Georgetown, Florida and North Carolina joining a list that already included Indiana, Kansas, Ohio State, Maryland, Miami (FL) and Syracuse.

The Hoosiers offered Richardson a scholarship in early December and watched him several times during the high school season, including a mid-January game at Roselle and also at the Flyin’ to the Hoop in Dayton, Ohio.

Indiana’s already heavy pursuit will likely pick up even more next month when the staff will be able to have unlimited phone and text message communication with class of 2015 prospects beginning on June 15.

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An updated look at who’s coming and going in the Big Ten

050913cxbsWith the NBA Draft early entry deadline in the rearview mirror and several announced transfers since we last checked in, it’s time for an updated look at who’s coming and going in the Big Ten for the 2013-2014 season. (Note: Only scholarship players are listed.)

Illinois (23-13, 8th place, NCAA round of 32)

· Arriving: Kendrick Nunn (ESPNU Top 100), Malcolm Hill (ESPNU Top 100), Austin Colbert, Maverick Morgan, Jaylon Tate, Aaron Cosby (transfer from Seton Hall, eligible in 2014-2015), Jon Ekey (transfer from Illinois State, eligible immediately), Darius Paul (transfer from Western Michigan, eligible in 2014-2015), Rayvonte Rice (transfer from Drake)

· Departing: Brandon Paul (graduation), D.J. Richardson (graduation), Tyler Griffey (graduation), Mike Shaw (transfer), Ibby Djimde (transfer), Devin Langford (transfer)

Notes: It’s been a busy offseason in Champaign as the Illini had three players transfer and will add three new players via transfer and five freshmen. Rice, who transferred to Illinois last April, also becomes eligible.

Indiana (29-7, 1st place, NCAA Sweet Sixteen)

· Arriving: Noah Vonleh (ESPNU Top 100), Troy Williams (ESPNU Top 100), Stanford Robinson (ESPNU Top 100), Luke Fischer (ESPNU Top 100), Devin Davis, Collin Hartman, Evan Gordon (transfer from Arizona State, eligible immediately)

· Departing: Christian Watford (graduation), Jordan Hulls (graduation), Derek Elston (graduation), Victor Oladipo (NBA), Cody Zeller (NBA), Remy Abell (transfer), Maurice Creek (transfer)

Notes: The Hoosiers graduate two starters in Hulls and Watford and lose two projected lottery picks to the NBA Draft in Oladipo and Zeller. But they add the league’s top recruiting class, headlined by five-star power forward Vonleh and Gordon, an experienced backcourt player and the brother of former program standout Eric Gordon.

Iowa (25-13, 6th place, NIT runner-up)

· Arriving: Peter Jok, Jarrod Uthoff (transfer from Wisconsin)

· Departing: Eric May (graduation), Patrick Ingram (transfer)

Notes: Iowa’s roster will remain mostly intact as every notable player from last season’s NIT runner-up squad will return to Iowa City.

Michigan State (27-9, 2nd place tie, NCAA Sweet Sixteen)

· Arriving: Alvin Ellis, Gavin Schilling

· Departing: Derrick Nix (graduation)

Notes: The Spartans received good news late last month when Adreian Payne and Gary Harris spurned the NBA Draft for a chance to compete for a national championship. As a result, Michigan State is probably a preseason top three team nationally.

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Four schools in steady contact with Phil Booth

042913ncvsClass of 2014 Mount St. Joseph’s (MD) guard Phil Booth is still planning to wait until the fall to pick a school, but it appears a few schools are beginning to separate themselves in his recruitment.

Booth, who is an integral part of unbeaten Team Takeover in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, updated his recruitment for Inside the Hall recently at the third EYBL session in Dallas.

“It’s going pretty well,” he said. “The newest one to come on is Memphis, but the steady ones have been Georgetown, Indiana, Maryland and Villanova.”

Booth has visited each of the four schools he mentioned as being steady in his pursuit.

His trip to Indiana was an unofficial visit for the Hoosiers’ 81-73 win over No. 1 Michigan on ESPN’s College GameDay. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound guard said his communication with the IU staff has remained consistent.

“A few times a week. It’s been pretty steady,” Booth said. “They’ve been pretty close, especially (Kenny) Johnson. He calls and texts, so I have a pretty good relationship with both of them.”

Through three EYBL sessions, Team Takeover is 13-0 and a lock for July’s Peach Jam. They’ll look to finish another session unbeaten this weekend in Minneapolis with games against Meanstreets, Texas Pro, Team Scan, Houston Hoops and Expressions Elite.

“We’ve been playing real good basketball and playing together,” Booth said. “When we do that and listen to what the coach is saying, we play pretty well. So we’re trying to keep the streak alive.”

In EYBL play, Booth is averaging 10.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 20.5 minutes per game. He’s shooting 39.1 from the field, 45.5 percent on 3-pointers and 80.4 percent from the foul line.

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Pinson opts to stay close to home, play for UNC

042813HIGH POINT, N.C. — Home — or closer to home — was where Theo Pinson’s heart was.

It was the draw of playing closer to home that led Pinson, a 5-star recruit in the class of 2014 and top target of Indiana, to commit to play basketball at North Carolina on Wednesday.

Pinson, a 6-6, 190-pound wing, made the announcement in the gym at Wesleyan Christian Academy flanked by his parents, sister, and high school coach Keith Gatlin.

About 100 fellow students and school supporters were in attendance. Pinson said that making the announcement Wednesday was important since it was the last day of school for the students and he wanted them to be a part of it.

Seated at a small table, Pinson thanked God, all his coaches, teammates, and the “Red Sea” — the student cheering section at the school — and said he came to the decision because he thought his recruiting process was over.

He leaned down and to his left and placed a Carolina Blue hat on his head while saying “I’ll be playing college basketball for the University of North Carolina.”

The decision was met with loud cheers and applause from the faithful in attendance. Pinson, who had just wrapped up his final exam in French class before he went into the gym, said he made a call to Crean this morning to notify him of his decision.

“One of the toughest things I’ve ever done, really,” Pinson said. “I was just hurt by talking to him, but I wanted to be big about it and call him with the news and not text him or something. That would be lame. I’m glad we had a good understanding about it and we will still have a good relationship. But it’s hard to do that, as hard as they had worked during the recruiting process. I knew it was going to be a hard decision and that I was going to have to let someone down.”

Gatlin said he wasn’t aware where Pinson was headed until the announcement came, only that he knew one of his standout players was ready for the recruiting process to be over.

“He called me last week and told me ‘Coach, I really need to talk to you. I think I’m ready,’” Gatlin said. “Then he told me what he had in mind as far as making the announcement. But yeah, I’m a little surprised it wasn’t Indiana. But now that it’s over, I think he’ll be able to relax next season.”

Jon Adams is one of Pinson’s coaches on the CP3 All-Stars AAU team, and went so far Wednesday morning to say that he was “almost certain” Pinson was going to pick Indiana.

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Five-star wing Theo Pinson commits to North Carolina

052213cbvIn the end, the chance to play close to home for one of the nation’s top programs was too much for Theo Pinson to turn down.

The class of 2014 wing, rated a consensus five-star prospect, ended his recruitment on Wednesday with a verbal commitment to North Carolina.

Pinson announced his decision at his high school, Wesleyan Christian Academy, in High Point, North Carolina. He was heavily recruited by Indiana and also considered Duke, Georgetown and Louisville.

He’s the third member of North Carolina’s recruiting class for 2014, joining point guard Joel Berry and small forward Justin Jackson.

Indiana offered Pinson in May of 2012 and hosted him on an unofficial visit last June and for an official visit in early February for a primetime game against No. 1 Michigan on ESPN’s College GameDay.

The Indiana staff also attended the final three games of his high school season when he led Wesleyan Christian to its first state championship in 20 years and many of his games this spring for the CP3 All-Stars in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL).

As recently as May 11, Pinson told Inside the Hall that the Hoosiers were “looking good” in his recruitment and that he planned to trim down his list in the coming weeks.

But his timeline accelerated as he decided late last week that he was ready to end the process.

The Hoosiers have one verbal commitment in the 2014 class — James Blackmon Jr. — but are well positioned with several top players including Dante Exum and Goodluck Okonoboh.

Video of Pinson talking about his decision after the jump.

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