1. Indiana Hoosiers: Assembly Hall, opened in 1971
Were this a list of the best basketball venues in Indiana, Hinkle Fieldhouse would win. (Though there would be a few mid-century, 7,000-seat high school arenas in the running.) Toughest, though? That’s Assembly Hall. It’s bonkers-loud, even when the team is just so-so. The sideline stands rise impossibly, and imposingly, into the rafters. And you can forgive the student section’s incongruous split between the baseline, corners and upper deck for two reasons:
– The deep-pocketed who occupy the prime sideline seats are as locked-in and rowdy as most 20-year-olds.
– The 17,472-seat gym typically packs in 7,800 students a night. No setting in college basketball has more. Few are this daunting.
Schools like Georgetown, Tennessee, Cal, and Marquette have been working hard on the Expressions star, yet it is three others that have stood out with Samuels. “Xavier, Villanova, and Indiana,” he said, pertaining to those that look to have the best shot with him. Samuels spoke further on each of the schools at hand.
“Instant playing time, development, a great education, and a coaching staff that can get me where I want to be.”
“Tom Crean is telling me he sees tons of potential in me if I go there. He stresses development, development, development.”
“Coaching, playing time, the fit, and development again.”
With Tom Crean having watched Nike South Beach multiple times, Brown says that the Indiana head man was most impressed by his motor.
“This was the first time that he had ever seen me play,” Brown said. “He sat and watched four or five of my games at Peach Jam. He said he liked my game and that he had heard about my work ethic, heard that I work hard.”
One Big Ten head coach told CBS Sports that Indiana’s Robert Johnson could be the league’s most underrated player. “He’s a two-year starter that can play multiple positions,” the coach said of the 6-3 Johnson, who averaged 8.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season. “Don’t be surprised if he winds up playing a lot of point guard next season.”
The 2016-2017 Indiana basketball schedule: What we know
The full 2016-2017 Indiana basketball schedule won’t be released until later this summer when the Big Ten finalizes the conference slate, but a good chunk of dates and non-conference opponents for the upcoming season have already been revealed.
· Year six of the Crossroads Classic: Indiana needed a second half comeback to beat Notre Dame in last year’s Crossroads Classic, but the Hoosiers got the job done and have now won two straight in the event. Overall, Indiana is 3-2 in the Crossroads Classic. The Hoosiers will face Butler this season on Dec. 17 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and should be favored. The Bulldogs graduated both Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones and are unranked in early preseason top 25s for next season. The Crossroads Classic was extended through 2019 back in August of 2014.
· The Indiana Classic:Indiana will play in a four-team exempt event called the “Indiana Classic” that will feature games against UMass Lowell (Nov. 16), Liberty (Nov. 19), a game against IPFW in Fort Wayne (Nov. 22) and one opponent that is still to be announced (likely to be Mississippi Valley State). That contest is expected to take place after the IPFW game.
· Sweet Sixteen rematch in Assembly Hall: The Hoosiers will play in one of the marquee games of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge when North Carolina comes to Assembly Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 30. It will be the second time in four years that the two programs meet in Bloomington. Indiana beat North Carolina 83-59 on Nov. 27, 2012 at Assembly Hall. The Tar Heels are ranked No. 6 in ESPN’s way-too-early preseason top 25.
· Armed Forces Classic: Indiana will open the regular season away from home with Kansas in the Armed Forces Classic at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii on Friday, Nov. 11. It will be the first meeting between Indiana and Kansas since 1995. The Jayhawks lead the all-time series 7-6. Kansas is ranked No. 4 in ESPN’s way-too-early preseason top 25.
· IU sitting out of the Gavitt Tipoff Games: After facing Creighton last season in the inaugural Gavitt Tipoff Games, Indiana is not in the event this season. The Gavitt Tipoff Games features eight Big Ten and Big East programs facing off in the opening week of the season. Indiana will appear in the event at least three more times through 2022.
· Louisville series tips off: Indiana and Louisville will begin a three-year series on New Year’s Eve at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. In year two of the series, the Hoosiers will travel to the KFC Yum! Center and the final game of the series will take place in 2018 at Assembly Hall. The Cardinals are ranked No. 13 in ESPN’s way-too-early preseason top 25.
· More guarantee games to come: So far, just eight of Indiana’s 13 non-conference games have been revealed. Given that IU already has Kansas, North Carolina, Louisville and Butler on the schedule, most, if not all, of the remaining games are likely to be guarantee games. So far, just three guarantee game opponents have been announced in UMass Lowell, Liberty and Southeast Missouri State (Dec. 4).
· The unbalanced Big Ten schedule: The unbalanced league schedule is going to be a topic of conversation each year with 14 teams playing an 18-game slate. This year will be no different. Here’s IU’s draw:
– Big Ten double plays:Michigan, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin – Big Ten single plays (home): Illinois, Nebraska, Michigan State, Rutgers – Big Ten single plays (away): Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio State
This schedule projects to be a little bit tougher than last season when Indiana played Maryland, Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State just one time. This year, Indiana will play both Wisconsin and Purdue twice, but does get the benefit of facing Michigan State just once with the game in Bloomington.
Class of 2017 Fort Wayne Snider forward Malik Williams, an Indiana recruiting target for more than three years, announced a list of eight finalists on Monday afternoon.
The 6-foot-11 Williams is still considering, in alphabetical order, Georgetown, Indiana, Iowa, Louisville, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Purdue and UCLA.
Williams is ranked the No. 34 player nationally according to the 247Composite and has taken multiple unofficial visits to Bloomington.
As a junior, Williams was named honorable mention all-state by the Associated Press and averaged 21 points and 13 rebounds per game. Snider finished the 2015-16 season with a 14-9 record.
Williams was also a core member of the Indiana Junior All-Star team and participated in last month’s NBPA Top 100 Camp at the University of Virginia.
Indiana has one commitment for the 2017 class thus far in Berkmar (Ga.) guard Al Durham Jr.
Ranking the Big Ten’s incoming recruiting classes
The Big Ten will welcome plenty of new talent into the league for the 2016-17 season in the form of incoming freshmen, transfers who will become eligible, redshirted players from last season and graduate transfers.
Here’s a ranking, from 14 to 1, of the incoming classes heading into the 2016-17 season. All players are freshmen or junior college signees unless otherwise noted:
14. Rutgers Additions: Issa Thiam (247Composite rank: 238), Matt Bullock (247Composite rank: 363), Candido Sa Why they’re here: It’s going to be a long road for Steve Pikiell to build Rutgers into a respectable program. This class is unlikely to help move the needle, which means the Scarlet Knights need to do major work in the 2017 class and beyond.
13. Wisconsin Additions: Aleem Ford (247Composite rank: 342), D’Mitrik Trice (247Composite rank: 357), Andy Van Vliet (redshirted last season) Why they’re here: Ford and Trice (both from IMG Academy) were unknowns when they committed to the Badgers this spring, but the key piece here is Van Vliet. The Belgium native is the talltest player on the roster at 6-foot-11 and is reportedly a very good shooter from the perimeter.
12. Illinois Additions: Tejon Lucas (247Composite rank: 142), Kipper Nichols (Tulane transfer who becomes eligible by midseason at the latest) Why they’re here: Lucas figures to crack the rotation as a freshman, but Tracy Abrams is the starter if he can stay healthy. Nichols, a transfer from Tulane who plays on the wing, has drawn praise from John Groce in offseason workouts. However, it’s not known if he’ll be eligible at the start of the season or after the first semester.
11. Northwestern Additions: Rapolas Ivanauskas (247Composite rank: 148) Barret Benson (247Composite rank: 154), Isiah Brown (247Composite rank: 237) Why they’re here: This is a solid haul by Chris Collins and staff, who have continued to build a better base of talent in Evanston. Both Ivanauskas, who is 6-foot-8, and Benson, who is a solid 6-foot-9 post player, had heavy interest from other Big Ten programs.
10. Purdue Additions: Carsen Edwards (247Composite rank: 118), Spike Albrecht (graduate transfer from Michigan) Why they’re here: The Boilermakers are lower than this on many of the Big Ten team rankings, but Edwards is a steady point guard who can help fill a need. And Albrecht, if healthy, should also be a member of the rotation.
9. Nebraska Additions: Isaiah Roby (247Composite rank: 136), Jeriah Horne (247Composite rank: 176), Jordy Tshimanga (247Composite rank: 163), Anton Gill (Louisville transfer becomes eligible) Why they’re here: Andrew White’s departure should give both Roby and Gill, a former top 60 recruit at Louisville, an immediate opportunity to score. Three recruits in the top 176 of the 247Composite rankings is a very solid class for Tim Miles and his staff.
8. Ohio State Additions: Derek Funderburk (247Composite rank: 74), Micah Potter (247Composite rank: 243), Andre Wesson (247Composite rank: 267), C.J. Jackson (247Composite JUCO ranking: 27) Why they’re here: Funderburk should be able to help in Ohio State’s frontcourt right away and Jackson, a combo guard, could be in the backcourt rotation with the transfer of A.J. Harris.
7. Iowa Additions: Tyler Cook (247Composite ranking: 73), Cordell Pemsl (247Composite ranking: 231), Ryan Kriener (247Composite ranking: 303), Jordan Bohannon (247Composite ranking: 298), Maishe Dailey (247Composite ranking: 354) Why they’re here: Cook, a 6-foot-8 forward, is the headliner here. He should slide right into the frontcourt rotation, which lost Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury.
6. Michigan Additions: Xavier Simpson (247Composite ranking: 66), Jon Teske (247Composite ranking: 145), Ibi Watson (247Composite ranking: 240), Austin Davis (247Composite ranking: 177) Why they’re here: Could Simpson come right in and challenge Derrick Walton for minutes? The Michigan staff must believe that is the case or Spike Albrecht would have been back in Ann Arbor for a fifth year. Teske and Davis should help backup Mark Donnal. Watson could provide shooting from the wing.
5. Minnesota Additions: Amir Coffey (247Composite ranking: 49), Eric Curry (247Composite ranking: 112), Michael Hurt (247Composite ranking: 217), Akeem Springs (graduate transfer from Milwaukee), Davonte Fitzgerald (Texas A&M transfer becomes eligible), Reggie Lynch (Illinois State transfer becomes eligible) Why they’re here: Richard Pitino needed to upgrade his talent level and it appears he’s done that with Coffey and Curry in the freshman class to go along with several transfers who could also crack the rotation.
4. Penn State Additions: Tony Carr (247Composite ranking: 51), Lamar Stevens (247Composite ranking: 99), Nazeer Bostick (247Composite ranking: 300), Joe Hampton (247Composite ranking: 257), Terrence Samuel (Connecticut transfer becomes eligible), Mike Watkins (sat out last season due to academic issues) Why they’re here: Carr and Stevens should be rotation players right away as should Watkins, who was ranked the No. 102 player in the 2015 class in the final 247Composite rankings. With that trio, Pat Chambers has essentially netted three top 100 players, which is unheard of in State College.
3. Indiana Additions: De’Ron Davis (247Composite ranking: 40), Curtis Jones (247Composite ranking: 85), Devonte Green (247Composite ranking: 198), Grant Gelon (247Composite ranking: 322), Freddie McSwain (247Composite JUCO ranking: 24), Josh Newkirk (Pittsburgh transfer becomes eligible) Why they’re here: Davis and Jones are unlikely to start, but both should play key roles on a team that is expected to open the season in the preseason top 15. Newkirk, who is expected to challenge for the starting point guard spot, is also a key addition for the Hoosiers.
2. Maryland Additions: Micah Thomas (247Composite ranking: 155), Anthony Cowan (247Composite ranking: 62), Kevin Huerter (247Composite ranking: 64), L.G. Gill (graduate transfer from Duquesne), Justin Jackson (247Composite ranking: 83), Joshua Tomaic Why they’re here: Maryland lost a ton of talent and needed a very good recruiting haul. Mark Turgeon did his job. A trio of top 100 players are in the class along with Gill, who should help in the frontcourt immediately as he arrives from Duquesne.
1. Michigan State Additions: Miles Bridges (247Composite ranking: 12), Cassius Winston (247Composite ranking: 33), Josh Langford (247Composite ranking: 20), Nick Ward (247Composite ranking: 41), Ben Carter (graduate transfer from UNLV) Why they’re here: This wasn’t even close as Spartans reeled in four top 41 players along with Carter, who should be a nice role player. The gap could widen further if Andrew White, who is considering Michigan State after leaving Nebraska, chooses the Spartans.
Video: 2017 forward Malik Williams highlights
Class of 2017 Fort Wayne Snider forward Malik Williams has been an Indiana recruiting target since the start of his high school career.
The Hoosiers tracked Williams, the No. 32 player nationally according to the 247Composite, closely during the July evaluation period. Here’s a look at Williams via Ball is Life, which recently released this video of the rising senior:
Report: Troy Williams agrees to free agent deal with Memphis
Former Indiana forward Troy Williams, who was not selected in June’s NBA draft, has agreed to a free agent deal with the Memphis Grizzlies.
According to David Pick, Williams received a partially guaranteed deal from Memphis. Terms of the deal were not disclosed in the report.
According to multiple reports, Williams had interest from as many as four NBA teams.
Williams played for Phoenix in the Samsung NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, where he averaged 12.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 22.3 minutes per game.
Over Phoenix’s final three Summer League games, Williams averaged 20.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and two steals.
Because Ferrrell’s initial deal with the Nets was for the Summer League, he was a free agent and able to sign with other teams at the conclusion of his time in Vegas.
Terms of Ferrell’s deal with the Nets have not been disclosed.
The All-Big Ten guard averaged 8.8 points, 1.8 assists, 1.5 rebounds in 17 minutes per game in the Summer League. He shot 43.8 percent from the field, 18.2 percent on 3s and 71.4 percent from the free throw line.
The Nets roster, which was at 15 players before the Ferrell signing, is heavy on guards with Jeremy Lin, Greivis Vásquez, Isaiah Whitehead, Caris LeVert, Randy Foye and Sean Kilpatrick already signed for next season.
Freshman Focus: De’Ron Davis
“Freshman Focus” is an Inside the Hall series on each of Indiana’s four incoming freshmen. Over the next couple of weeks, we will take an in-depth look at all four newcomers. Today: De’Ron Davis. (Previously: Grant Gelon, Devonte Green)
Overland High School coach Danny Fisher first met De’Ron Davis as a fifth grader.
The journey the two have been through together is one that Fisher will not forget. It’s a relationship that extends beyond basketball.
Fisher met Davis not long after the IU signee’s father passed away. He was his coach when he was ranked one of the top players in the country early in his high school career and the scholarship offers began pouring in. He was there when Davis struggled with his weight and as a result, tumbled in the rankings and saw his recruitment cool off. And together Fisher and Davis, Colorado’s Mr. Basketball in his final prep season, put Overland in the record books by leading the school to consecutive Class 5A state championships.
“Shortly after his father died, I met him,” Fisher told Inside the Hall. “So his transformation from that point to now has been something that has really been cool to be a part of. Just how he’s matured, how difficult that (his father’s death) was, how much it changed it his life. And then just seeing him make sense out of everything, getting himself realigned and really making a full commitment to basketball. It’s been an awesome journey.”
The journey, at least as player and coach, will conclude at some point in the next month. Davis is expected to complete his remaining academic requirements and move to Bloomington to join his teammates at Indiana.
The relationship between Davis and the Indiana coaching staff grew roots because of loyalty. When the Hoosiers offered Davis a scholarship early in his prep career, Fisher acknowledges that he believed it was a fluff offer to just get on the radar with his star player.
But as adversity hit Davis and other schools soured or moved on to other prospects, Indiana didn’t alter its approach.
As Fisher recalls it, Davis hit a lull in his prep career. He gained weight as a result of a poor diet and a busy travel schedule. His explosion suffered. And as a player many viewed as one of the nation’s best, he was scrutinized and his profile nationally suffered.
“In all honesty, it was true,” Fisher said. “And it hurt him. But I think ultimately, it kind of drove him and helped him step back from all of the ranking systems and how much stock he was putting into all of that. It helped him focus more on who De’Ron is and what he needed to do to be the best version of De’Ron.”
Indiana never lost the vision it had for Davis when Tom Crean offered him a scholarship before his freshman year of high school. Other schools came and went in his recruitment.
Indiana was the constant.
“That meant everything. I think that was the deciding factor,” Fisher said. “That was the piece that really helped him develop a deeper relationship with coach Crean and his staff through those tough times. When a kid is on top of the world, everybody loves them. But a kid doesn’t have a chance to build a real relationship with someone when they’re on top of the world.
“He was able to build a relationship with them through adversity. When you have an opportunity to do that, it’s real.”
Fisher has also been with Davis through his latest journey – his unexpected summer in Colorado.
While Devonte Green, Grant Gelon and Curtis Jones prepare for their first collegiate season in Bloomington, Davis is finishing up academic requirements back home.
He’s with Fisher five or six days per week for eight or nine workouts. Indiana assistant coach Chuck Martin was in to see Davis at his home earlier in the week just to check in.
“He’s finishing up some academic requirements and making sure he’s 100 percent cleared by the NCAA,” Fisher said. “He had to do some summer stuff for that. He’s on the path that we all need him to be on.”
There will be ground for Davis to make up once he arrives in Bloomington in terms of basketball. As his teammates have worked out all summer with Lyonel Anderson and the coaching staff, Davis has done his best to stay on track with Fisher’s help.
But Fisher can’t simulate what Davis will encounter in those workouts or the benefit he’ll receive from playing against Thomas Bryant, OG Anunoby and Juwan Morgan every day.
“I can’t wait to see what that does for him every single day,” Fisher said. “I think at the end of his freshman year, midway through his freshman year, we’re going to see a completely different player. He’s truly going to see what he’s capable of. It’s going to make everybody go back and look at those rankings and say ‘how did we miss on this kid?’ Because De’Ron is a kid who gets better through adversity and when he’s challenged.”
For Fisher, Davis moving on is bittersweet.
It’ll be a new era for Overland basketball. Fisher says he’s excited for that challenge while also acknowledging that he may never coach another player as talented as Davis. Overland’s defense, a trademark over the last two seasons, won’t be nearly as formidable without the presence of Davis.
But when Fisher speaks about what he’ll miss most about his star player, the basketball aspect isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
“I’m going to miss his leadership, I’m going to miss his smile,” Fisher said. “His ability to control the temperature of the entire gym, the mood and the energy of the entire gym.
“As he got older, we became a lot closer. As he became more of a man, we were able to have men conversations. I’m going to miss him as a friend. That’s something we developed over the last year or so. We went from coach and player and were able to turn that off and simply talk about things and life that were bothering us, things that we were going through. Every aspect of who De’Ron Davis is, I’m going to miss it heavily.”
Video: Justin Smith Nike EYBL highlights
Class of 2017 Stevenson (Ill.) and Mac Irvin Fire wing Justin Smith has visited Bloomington multiple times and is one of the program’s top wing recruiting targets. Smith averaged 8.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game this year on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) circuit.
With the help of Krossover, we recently broke down some film of Smith to provide Indiana fans with a feel for his game and style of play.
The Big Ten will have several teams that are retooling next season. The conference lost four of its top five players to graduation in Denzel Valentine, Yogi Ferrell, Jarrod Uthoff and A.J. Hammons. However, reinforcements are on the way for several programs.
In no particular order, here’s a look at five newcomers we expect to make an impact next season in the Big Ten:
· Miles Bridges, Michigan State: The jewel of Tom Izzo’s 2016 recruiting class, Bridges was a must-have recruit for Michigan State. A native of Flint, Bridges spent his final three high school seasons at Huntington Prep in West Virginia. He had his pick of any school in the country, including Kentucky, which recruited him diligently. But ultimately, Izzo and the Michigan State staff won out in the battle for Bridges.
So what does Bridges bring to East Lansing? Given what the Spartans lost – Valentine, Bryn Forbes, Deyonta Davis and Matt Costello – he might be the best player on Michigan State’s roster right away. The 6-foot-6 forward plays with an incredible motor and finishes above the rim with ease. He’s also a very active rebounder, which should translate well in Michigan State’s system. The No. 10 recruit nationally in the final RSCI rankings for 2016, Bridges enters the season as a frontrunner for Big Ten freshman of the year.
· Josh Langford, Michigan State: Not far behind Bridges in the recruiting rankings is Langford, the No. 20 recruit in the final RSCI rankings for 2016. He joined Bridges on the 2016 McDonald’s All-American team. The duo are the 13th and 14th players who have earned that honor to play for Izzo at Michigan State.
A 6-foot-5 combo guard, Langford is a very good ball handler. He’s also an elite shooter. Without Valentine and Forbes around to fill it up for the perimeter, Langford will be a go-to option for Michigan State immediately. Perhaps the most impressive trait in Langford’s offensive game is that he can score not only from distance and at the rim, but he can also operate in the midrange.
· Amir Coffey, Minnesota: Let’s be clear: Minnesota will have little impact on the Big Ten race next season. But that’s part of what earns Coffey a spot on this list. His opportunity to make an impact will be significant. The Golden Gophers return a solid contingency of guards and wing players, but none of them have the potential of Coffey, the No. 40 player in the final RSCI rankings for 2016.
At 6-foot-7, the versatile wing led his high school team, Hopkins, to a class 4A title as a senior on his way to being named Mr. Basketball in Minnesota. He was also named a Jordan Brand All-Star. In a critical season for Richard Pitino, he’ll need to sell the future to keep his job (and the few supporters he has left in the fanbase). As a result, Coffey should be featured prominently.
· Kevin Huerter, Maryland: Huerter is another top 55 recruit coming into the Big Ten and his presence on the list is due to the combination of his talent and opportunity in College Park. The 6-foot-6 shooter from New York is a member of the USA U18 men’s team currently participating in the FIBA Americas U18 championships in Chile. Mark Turgeon is an assistant for the team, but Huerter’s inclusion on the roster wasn’t a favor to Turgeon. Huerter’s play in the training camp for the U18 team already has NBA scouts keeping close tabs on him.
Maryland is going to look much different next season without Diamond Stone, Jake Layman, Robert Carter and Rasheed Sulaimon. But the return of Melo Trimble should allow Huerter to flourish as a shooter. Teams won’t be able to help off of Trimble and Huerter will benefit as a result. And there will be plenty of shots available with the graduation of Sulaimon and Layman.
· Josh Newkirk, Indiana: The lone transfer on our list, Newkirk has been drawing favorable reviews this offeason from the IU coaching staff and teammates. He returned from microfracture surgery earlier this year and is expected to compete for a starting job in Bloomington. After a disappointing sophomore season at Pittsburgh, Newkirk opted to transfer to Indiana and the system he’ll operate in under Tom Crean should be a much better fit for his style of play.
A speedy point guard, Newkirk is capable of thriving in the open court and shouldn’t have a problem finding shooters on the perimeter. His perimeter shooting is a question mark, but his defense and experience will earn him minutes on a team that should be right in the thick of the Big Ten race.