Tuesday roundup: Crean addresses Ravens, top newcomers, more

Indiana coach Tom Crean was in Indianapolis over the weekend for the Baltimore Ravens-Indianapolis Colts preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Ravens are coached by Crean’s brother-in-law, John Harbaugh, who has attended several Indiana games over Crean’s tenure in Bloomington. Harbaugh has also addressed the Indiana locker room on multiple occasions.

On Saturday, Harbaugh asked Crean to address the Ravens following a 19-18 win over the Colts:

Bryant on regional covers for Sporting News, Athlon Sports yearbooks

Indiana sophomore forward Thomas Bryant was recently named a preseason first team All-American by Blue Ribbon, which included a spot on the Blue Ribbon yearbook.

The preseason accolades continue to roll in for Bryant as The Sporting News and Athlon Sports have both selected Bryant to appear on regional covers that will go on sale early next month.

ESPN names Davis one of Big Ten’s top newcomers

ESPN.com continues its various preseason preview content and recently, senior writer Dana O’Neil revealed her list of the league’s top five newcomers for the 2016-2017 season.

De’Ron Davis, who arrived on campus on Sunday morning, was among the five:

Coach Tom Crean promised Davis a scholarship before the power forward even got into high school, offering a spot on the Hoosiers roster back when Davis was an eighth-grader. Of course at the time, Davis was the top-rated eighth grader in the country, so it wasn’t a terrible idea. Like most early rankings and early offers, theirs was tested. Davis’ ranking didn’t remain static as he matured. Plus the Hoosiers didn’t necessarily remain a safe choice, as Crean’s job security came under heavy scrutiny. Davis scored more than 1,500 points, pulled down more than 1,000 rebounds and set a Colorado state record in blocked shots in high school. The two sides remained loyal, and the result is an upgrade from a formidable Hoosiers frontcourt into a downright terrifying one. With Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby electing to stay in school, defending Big Ten champion Indiana is loaded.

The other newcomers on the list: Josh Langford and Miles Bridges of Michigan State, Minnesota’s Amir Coffey and Penn State’s Tony Carr.

Four-star point guard will take official visit to Indiana

One of Indiana’s top recruiting targets in the class of 2017, point guard Tremont Waters, has scheduled three official visits.

Waters, who transferred from South Kent Prep (Conn.) to Notre Dame-West Haven for his senior season, will take official visits to Georgetown, Indiana and Kansas this fall.

The 5-foot-10 guard is ranked the No. 40 player in the 247Composite.

Crean to speak at Boys and Girls Club on Thursday

Tom Crean will speak at the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington on Thursday, Aug. 25 as a part of the “Man Up To Make A Difference” event.

More details are available here.

2016-2017 Big Ten preview: Top non-conference games

With the start of college basketball practice season five weeks from Friday, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next couple of months. Today, we begin our look at the Big Ten with ten non-conference games, listed in chronological order, that you’ll want to mark on your calendars as must see. Note: Rankings are from Eamonn Brennan’s preseason top 25 on ESPN.com.

No. 11 Indiana vs. No. 4 Kansas, Nov. 11
Event: Armed Forces Classic
TV coverage: ESPN

We won’t be waiting long to get a premier matchup in college basketball this season. Two of the most storied programs in the country will square off on the first day of the season, which is on Veterans Day. The venue will be unique as the Hoosiers and Jayhawks will meet at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu. The individual battles in this game could be fascinating. Kansas has a veteran backcourt that could give Indiana plenty of problems plus Josh Jackson, who could be the nation’s best freshman. But the Jayhawks will have to contend with IU’s depth up front, which includes a Blue Ribbon preseason first team All-American in Thomas Bryant.

No. 10 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Arizona, Nov. 11
Event: Armed Forces Classic
TV coverage: ESPN

If it wasn’t enough to watch Indiana play Kansas on the opening night of the season, the Armed Forces Classic will also feature the Spartans and Wildcats doing battle. Both of these teams have plenty of young talent. Michigan State will be relying heavily on Miles Bridges and Josh Langford, a pair of freshmen McDonald’s All-Americans. Arizona, meanwhile, loaded up again in recruiting with Rawle Alkins and Lauri Markkanen, a native of Finland to go along with some strong returnees, including Allonzo Trier.

No. 2 Villanova at No. 14 Purdue, Nov. 14
Event: Gavitt Tipoff Games
TV coverage: TBA

The Boilermakers will have a chance to make a statement early in the season as the defending champs make a trip to West Lafayette. Villanova’s preseason ranking isn’t window dressing as Jay Wright has the roster to again contend for a national title. Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Phil Booth and Jalen Brunson are all back in the fold and five-star freshman big man Omari Spellman arrives. Purdue, meanwhile, could have one of the nation’s best frontcourts but still has questions in the backcourt. Mackey Arena will provide an amazing atmosphere, but Villanova can win anywhere.

No. 10 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Kentucky, Nov. 15
Event: Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden
TV coverage: ESPN

How’s this for a start to the season for Michigan State? The Spartans play Arizona in Hawaii and then Kentucky on three days rest in New York City. After a second round NCAA tournament exit to Indiana last season, John Calipari has again loaded up his roster with stud recruits. Tyler Ulis is gone, but the Wildcats welcome in five recruits ranked in the top 21 in the final RSCI top 100 rankings. The last time these two teams met in the Champions Classic, Michigan State prevailed 78-74.

No. 8 Wisconsin at No. 20 Creighton, Nov. 15
Event: Gavitt Tipoff Games
TV coverage: TBA

There was an adjustment period for the Badgers last season as they shifted from Bo Ryan to Greg Gard, but there will be no rebuilding project this season in Madison. Gard returns every notable piece from last season’s team that advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. Creighton put together a solid 20-15 season in 2015-16, but missed on the NCAA tournament. The Bluejays return most of their core and also welcome Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster. The Century Link Center provides one of the better home court advantages in the country, which could make an upset possible in Omaha.

No. 25 Syracuse at No. 8 Wisconsin, Nov. 29
Event: Big Ten-ACC Challenge
TV coverage: ESPN

This is a rematch of last season’s thriller at the Carrier Dome, which Wisconsin won, 66-58 in overtime. The Orange lost a ton from last year’s surprising Final Four team, but return Tyler Lydon and welcome top 35 freshman Tyus Battle. The Kohl Center is one of the nation’s toughest venues, but the Badgers surprisingly lost three non-conference games there last season. Don’t expect that to happen again in 2016-17.

No. 10 Michigan State at No. 1 Duke, Nov. 29
Event: Big Ten-ACC Challenge
TV coverage: ESPN

Michigan State could enter this matchup with plenty of confidence after games with Arizona and Kentucky. Or the Spartans could emerge from those two games with a long list of items to work on. Either way, going to Duke won’t be easy. In a normal year, Kentucky would have easily had the nation’s best recruiting class. But this wasn’t a normal year. Coach K went out and nabbed two of the nation’s top four players in Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum. The Blue Devils also return Grayson Allen, a Blue Ribbon preseason first team All-American. Cameron Indoor Stadium will be rocking for this game.

No. 14 Purdue at No. 13 Louisville, Nov. 30
Event: Big Ten-ACC Challenge
TV coverage: ESPN

It might not get the same billing as the other marquee Big Ten-ACC Challenge games, but this should be a fascinating matchup. Both programs typically win with defense and given the size Purdue can put on the floor, Louisville is going to be challenged in the paint. But will Purdue’s guards be able to handle the defensive pressure? The Boilermakers have three potential point guards in Spike Albrecht, P.J. Thompson and Carsen Edwards and one of them better be ready to meet full court pressure head on.

No. 6 North Carolina at No. 11 Indiana, Nov. 30
Event: Big Ten-ACC Challenge
TV coverage: ESPN

For the second time in five seasons, the Tar Heels and Hoosiers will meet in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge in Bloomington. This is also a rematch from last year’s NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen game in Philadelphia, which North Carolina win comfortably. Indiana was undefeated last season in Assembly Hall and this will be the first and only marquee non-conference home game next season. After a heart breaking loss in the national title game, the Tar Heels return the talent to beat anyone with Justin Jackson, Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, Theo Pinson and Joel Berry all back in Chapel Hill.

No. 11 Indiana vs. No. 13 Louisville, Dec. 31
Venue: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
TV coverage: TBA

After locking horns in the 2014 Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden, Indiana and Louisville agreed to a three-year series in the summer of 2015. This is the first of the three games and it’ll tip off in Indianapolis before shifting to Louisville in 2017 and Bloomington in 2018. Fans of both programs hope it will become an annual series. The Cardinals like to win with defensive pressure and Indiana can be turnover prone at times, which will present a challenge for a backcourt that graduated Yogi Ferrell. The Hoosiers could enjoy a frontcourt advantage with Bryant, Anunoby, Juwan Morgan and De’Ron Davis. Given how both fanbases travel to support their teams, Bankers Life Fieldhouse should be full and rocking for this one.

De’Ron Davis now on campus, high school coach says

The wait is over for De’Ron Davis to arrive at Indiana.

Overland coach Danny Fisher told Inside the Hall this morning that Davis, a class of 2016 four-star forward, arrived in Indiana this morning.

“He’s there,” Fisher said via text message. “Arrived early this morning.”

The freshman big man is also now listed in IU’s online student directory, as pointed out by Zach Osterman and Stu Jackson.

Davis spent the summer in Colorado working out with Fisher and finishing up academic requirements.

Davis chose the Hoosiers last November over Mississippi State. He is ranked the No. 40 prospect nationally in the final RSCI rankings for the class of 2016.

First Day Of School #Freshmen #IUBB @grant_gelon @johnny_jager @derondavis_20 @chefboyargreen @ctj_curt

A photo posted by MarnOnTheMoon (@marnonthemoon) on

The 6-foot-9 forward was named Mr. Basketball in Colorado for 2016 by The Denver Post in the spring. He led Overland to two consecutive 5A state titles and finished his high school career with 442 blocked shots.

In four seasons, Davis and Overland compiled an 83-25 record.

The fall semester begins on Monday in Bloomington and practice for the 2016-17 season officially begins on September 30.

Indiana opens the regular season on Friday, November 11 against Kansas in the Armed Forces Classic in Hawaii.

Video: OG Anunoby interview at adidas Nations

Indiana sophomore forward OG Anunoby participated in adidas Global Nations earlier this month in California along with Hoosier teammate Thomas Bryant.

Jonathan Givony of Draft Express caught up with Anunoby for an interview, which is available below:

Video: 2017 center Luka Garza Peach Jam highlights

Class of 2017 The Maret School (D.C.) and Team Takeover big man Luka Garza picked up a scholarship offer from Indiana over the summer and was watched closely in July by the coaching staff. In the EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam, Garza averaged 9.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and one block in 26.2 minutes per game.

With the help of Krossover, we recently broke down some film of Garza from the Peach Jam to provide Indiana fans with a feel for his game and style of play.

You can find more Nike EYBL highlights at Krossover.

A closer look at Indiana’s non-conference schedule

 We offered some initial thoughts on Indiana’s 2016-17 non-conference schedule several weeks ago, but now that all 13 opponents have been revealed, it’s time for a deeper dive into the slate the Hoosiers will face this winter.

While it’s impossible to predict where a particular opponent will finish next season in the various computer rankings, last season’s finishes combined with a rankings prediction for the upcoming season can at least provide a forecast.

As UMHoops pointed out recently, RPI is the only value that matters when evaluating a schedule after the fact for strength of schedule, but it isn’t much use in projecting how good teams on a schedule will be.

Bart Tolvik, who developed a ranking to forecast how good a particular team will be for the upcoming season, already has his preseason rankings out for the 2016-17 campaign. Using a variety of factors, including percentage of returning minutes, Tolvik projects that Indiana’s non-conference slate will include four top 50 opponents.

They are, in order, North Carolina (home), Kansas (neutral), Louisville (neutral) and Butler (neutral).

Beyond that, he projects the Hoosiers to play just one other team ranked in the top 200 with eight teams projected to rank 269 or lower. All eight of those games – UMass Lowell, Liberty, Mississippi Valley State, SIU Edwardsville, SE Missouri State, Houston Baptist, Delaware State and Austin Peay – will be played at Assembly Hall. (It’s important to note that a team in this list could surprise and outperform projections.)

Here’s a look at last season’s final KenPom, RPI and Sagarin rankings for all 13 of IU’s non-conference opponents for next season along with Tolvik’s rankings prediction for 2016-17.

1617schedule

Guarantee games are nothing new in college basketball, but with athletic departments set on filling a certain number of home dates, they’re a necessity.

The problem with these games, however, is they have very little value when the NCAA tournament selection committee sits down to evaluate a team’s overall body of work.

Indiana was penalized in last year’s selection process for eight wins against opponents ranked 200 or higher in the RPI. Three of those games were in conference (Minnesota twice and Rutgers). So while it was a surprise to some when the Hoosiers – the outright Big Ten regular season champion by two full games – received just a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament, it probably shouldn’t have been.

Indiana played just the 87th toughest schedule in the country a season ago. Every team that landed a No. 4 seed ahead of Indiana in last year’s bracket played a schedule ranked in the top 25. Some of the lower than anticipated strength of schedule stemmed from playing two weaker than expected opponents in Maui – St. John’s and UNLV.

In 2016-17, it appears Indiana could again face an uphill battle when its strength of schedule is evaluated. With just five (presumed) opportunities before league play to get wins against the top 200, the Hoosiers won’t be able to afford a misstep like the one in Maui last November. (By contrast, Indiana had eight non-conference games last season against the RPI top 200.)

Rolling through the non-conference schedule with just one or two losses would set up Indiana with a solid base going into league play, but an unforeseen stumble or two could do just the opposite.

One thing to keep in mind is Indiana should get a strength of schedule boost in Big Ten play with a tougher slate than last season. Tolvik’s model projects just one Big Ten team outside of his top 200 and that is Rutgers which Indiana plays just once.

Beyond that, Indiana has double plays with Wisconsin, Purdue, Northwestern and Michigan, all of which are projected to be top 75-ish teams.

Video: A look at Indiana’s offseason workouts

Via its official Twitter account, Indiana today released an in-depth video showing footage of offseason workouts with strength and conditioning coach Lyonel Anderson:

(Photo credit: IU basketball)

Freshman Focus: Curtis Jones

“Freshman Focus” is an Inside the Hall series on each of Indiana’s four incoming freshmen. Over the summer we took an in-depth look at all four of IU’s freshmen. Today, our final profile: Curtis Jones. (Previously: Grant Gelon, Devonte Green, De’Ron Davis)

For the third time in four recruiting classes, Indiana dipped into the Boo Williams Nike Elite Youth Basketball (EYBL) program for a recruit.

In 2013, it was Troy Williams, who went on to play three seasons in Bloomington before departing as an early entrant for the NBA draft. In 2014, the Hoosiers landed Robert Johnson, who has started from day one in Bloomington and figures to play a major role on a 2016-17 roster that could contend for another Big Ten title. And in 2016, the Hoosiers landed one of the better combo guards in the country in Curtis Jones.

Jones, who arrived on campus in June at 6-foot-4 and 175 pounds, is expected to carve out a role in a backcourt rotation that will also include Johnson, James Blackmon Jr., Devonte Green and Josh Newkirk.

“I’m impressed with his speed and athleticism,” Tom Crean said of Jones after signing him last winter. “I’m impressed with his quickness. He gets to the glass. He really changes speeds.”

In his final season on Nike’s EYBL circuit with Boo Williams, Jones played primarily off the ball. He averaged 16.1 points in 27.8 minutes per game and shot 35.4 percent from behind the 3-point line.

In EYBL play, over 48 percent of his shot attempts came from behind the 3-point line and he posted an above average effective field goal percentage of 53.

joneschart081716

And as a senior at Huntington Prep, Jones, along with McDonald’s All-American Miles Bridges, led the program to a 25-11 record while competing against a collection of teams that comprised one of nation’s most rigorous schedules.

“I was the leader, tried to be the leader,” Jones told Inside the Hall in April. “We had a lot of new pieces together so it kind of helped me to grow into a better leader. Telling them what to do and with them not really knowing the playbook and things like that.”

Now as a freshman, Jones will lean on familiar faces as he adjusts to basketball at the college basketball.

He was one of three IU freshmen to spend the summer on campus working out with returning players. He’s known Johnson since he was nine years old and his friendship with Bryant dates back to their days together at Huntington Prep.

That familiarity with Johnson and Bryant, along with his relationship with the coaching staff, were major reasons he chose Indiana.

“It helped a lot. When I got towards the end (of my recruitment), that was the place I felt most comfortable,” Jones told Inside the Hall in the spring. “With coach (Tom) Crean and coach (Tim) Buckley recruiting me and then knowing Rob (Johnson), Thomas (Bryant) and Troy (Williams) a little bit and I really loved (strength) coach Lyonel Anderson.”

The graduation of Yogi Ferrell means Indiana will be without the program’s career leader in both assists and games played.

That means an opportunity to play some point guard for several newcomers, including Jones, could be there. It’s a challenge Jones said he was looking forward to back in the spring.

“I played a lot of point guard this year, so just continuing to work on my point guard skills, but also scoring,” Jones said. “Coach (Tom) Crean wants me to increase my range, put weight on, post feeds with getting Thomas and De’Ron (Davis) the ball and changing speeds. A lot of small things that will help a lot.

“The way the system is, there’s a lot of people who can play point guard with Rob and James also. It’s not really a big thing. We’re all guards. We’re all basketball players.”

Thomas Bryant named preseason first team All-American by Blue Ribbon

Blue Ribbon revealed the cover for its annual college basketball yearbook today and it features the publication’s All-America picks for next season.

Indiana sophomore center Thomas Bryant is one of the five selections along with Maryland’s Melo Trimble, Duke’s Grayson Allen, Cal’s Ivan Rabb and Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes.

As a freshman, Bryant averaged 11.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and one assists in 22.6 minutes per game. He shot 70.7 percent on 2-point field goals, which ranked fourth in the country.

Bryant also ranked in the top ten in the conference in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.

Mid-August 2017 Indiana basketball recruiting board update

The fall semester is upon us and we’re less than three months away from the early signing period for college basketball.

A few players have dropped off the recruiting board by virtue of commitments and list trims and several others have been added. We’ve again updated our recruiting board with the latest information on Indiana’s recruiting efforts for the class of 2017.

You can check out our latest 2017 Indiana basketball recruiting board, which includes updated national rankings, school lists and more, at the link below:

2017 Indiana basketball recruiting board