Elite point guard Tremont Waters looking for the right fit

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – Tremont Waters has had doubters as long as he can remember.

The 5-foot-11, 160 pound South Kent (Conn.) point guard says his size has long been a topic of conversation and, at times, has left him feeling overlooked.

“The beginning of my sophomore year, I felt (overlooked),” Waters said last week during the Nike EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam. “But my parents just stayed in my head and Coach (Kelvin) Jefferson from South Kent. They just told me to keep working, there’s a bunch of small guards out there, and all the schools that need to see me are going to see me.”

Turns out parents (and coaches) really do know best.

Now far removed from that sophomore year, the Expressions Elite product is commanding big-time attention and now holds offers from the nation’s elite college basketball programs, including Indiana, Kentucky, Duke, UConn, Kansas, and Georgetown.

During the EYBL Finals where his Expressions Elite team finished 4-2, Waters showed the large Peach Jam crowds exactly why he is garnering so much attention.

In six games against the country’s best competition, Waters averaged 15 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. That output included a 21-point, 10-rebound effort in a win over King James, proving Waters is more than capable of contributing more than points.

He says he takes a lot of pride in his defensive intensity and his ability as a floor general.

“I’m a small guard, so somehow, I have to impact the game and do something different from other guards,” he said. “Most guards nowadays are just scorers. I want to separate myself from that category of players and become a pest on defense and lead guard and just make plays when I need to make plays.

“Tyler Ulis is a small guard, Yogi Ferrell is a small guard. So I pretty much have to not try to emulate my game off them but try to improve on what they did and continue to get better. If they were able to play there (at Kentucky and Indiana), then I can.”

Another factor in Waters’ favor is what appears to be a relatively shallow pool of point guard prospects in the 2017 class.

That lack of depth has top-tier programs all vying for a handful of point guards like No. 5 in the 247Composite Trevon Duval, No. 20 Trae Young, and No. 26 Quade Green, who Waters, ranked No. 38, went head-to-head with during Expressions Elite’s quarterfinal loss to PSA Cardinals.

With that supply and demand, there has been talk that there may be pressure for the top point guards to commit quickly to ensure there is a spot available at schools like Duke and Kentucky, who are tracking several of the top point guard prospects.

Waters is quick to dispel that notion.

“For me, it’s not about going to a big-time school,” he said. “Obviously, those are great schools and they are top of the line, but if they commit first, I’m not going to cry or pout about it. I’m gonna pick the school that fits my game and my situation. I have to not focus on what they’re doing, but still try to win Peach Jam, work out, and just continue to get better. If I don’t they’re not gonna want me anyway, so I’m not focused on them. I’m focused on myself right now.”

Jacob Savage is a special contributor to Inside the Hall for Nike’s EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam.

2017 guard Andrew Platek opening eyes on EYBL circuit

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – Each year, starting in the spring and continuing through the heat of the summer, hundreds of premier high school basketball players from around the country hit the AAU trail in hopes of gaining exposure, increasing their stock, and fulfilling their dreams of playing at the next level.

Of course, like all things, there are varying levels of success.

Sometimes, the high-level competition on the circuit exposes or magnifies a players weaknesses and can lead to a subsequent drop in the rankings. For others, the trail can be a huge success, allowing them an opportunity to showcase their skills and open doors they never thought could be opened.

Go ahead and count Andrew Platek among the latter.

Platek, a 6-foot-4 guard from Northfield Mount Harmon (Mass.), has watched his stock soar based on his play on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball (EYBL) circuit.

Over the past few months, the No. 179 ranked player in the 247Composite has continually impressed coaches from around the country. An offer list that started with Fairfield now includes schools from across the country, including blueblood programs North Carolina and Indiana, who offered a scholarship during Platek’s unofficial visit to Bloomington in early May.

“I didn’t see this coming a year ago if you would have told me I would be offered by Indiana and North Carolina,” Platek told Inside the Hall following an Albany City Rocks win during the Nike EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam. “But I think it’s a testament to my hard work and the people I’m surrounded by. It’s just been a great experience for everyone in my family and my teammates. It’s been great.

“It’s humbling, for sure. It just makes you play your best every game.”

And that’s exactly what Platek has done throughout the spring and summer. Regarded as one of the nation’s most prolific 3-point shooters, he entered Peach Jam play averaging 12.7 points per game and shooting nearly 45% from distance, including a 10-for-16 performance during the first EYBL stop in Brooklyn, NY.

During pool play at Peach Jam, Platek struggled a bit shooting from distance, which can be due, at least in part, to often being face guarded by opponents as soon as he catches the ball on the perimeter. The word is clearly out on his abilities from deep.

Of course, such is life for a well-known sharpshooter and Platek says he’s focusing on adjusting his game accordingly.

“I’m trying to get my teammates involved,” he said. “I think I’m still able to shoot the ball pretty well even though they’re keying in on it, but I’m getting to the hoop more. I’m going to the free throw line at a higher rate and using the pump fake effectively. I’m just trying to expand my game because that’s how I’m going to be played in college. If I want to get to the next level, I’m going to have to work on all aspects of my game.”

That said, Platek also understands in today’s basketball world, perimeter shooting is at a premium. Teams at all levels are utilizing the 3-point shot at an increased rate, and the ability to provide that is what separates him from other similar players. In the end, he is well aware what has brought all of the attention in the first place.

“I love shooting threes. I love shooting the basketball,” Platek said. “That’s why I like watching the (Golden State) Warriors. I love that style of play. You have three or four knock-down shooters on the floor. It spreads everything out and it’s fun basketball.”

As for the unofficial visit in May, the Indiana staff did nothing but solidify its chances with the rising senior. Platek said most of the visit was spent with head coach Tom Crean and included a chance to see the Hoosiers at work first-hand. Bloomington, apparently, did its part as well.

“I love the college town, the college feel they have there,” Platek said. “I got to watch a practice and I actually know Thomas Bryant. He’s from Rochester, which is close to where I live. So I got to see them put in some work and be really intense. Coach Crean is a really knowledgeable coach. It was a great time.”

Now that he has added some major new names to the mix, Platek will have plenty to ponder over the coming weeks. He says following Peach Jam, he and his family will sit down and trim the list to “five or six” schools in preparation for a fall decision Platek says he is hoping to make “before the November signing period.”

Until that time, Indiana and North Carolina figure to be prominent players on that list of suitors which also includes Stanford, Butler, Davidson, and Miami, as well as a who’s who of Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

When the time does come for a final decision, Platek says there are several factors that will weigh heavily during his evaluation. He cited pace of play, the players around him, and education as major components he’s looking for in his next destination.

“I’ve improved so much over the past year that, it was more of an academic decision before, but now it’s kind of moved to ‘where can I become the best basketball player and still get a great education?’” he said. “I’m looking for the best combination of both.

“Indiana has all those things and I think it would be a great fit. It would be great to be a part of something so big and historic. It would be humbling for sure.”

Jacob Savage is a special contributor to Inside the Hall for Nike’s EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam.

Victor Oladipo added to 2016 USA Basketball Select Team

For the second time in three years, former Indiana All-American Victor Oladipo will team up with Cody Zeller on the USA Basketball Select Team.

USA Basketball announced on Friday that Oladipo, who was recently traded from Orlando to Oklahoma City, has been added to the roster for the 2016 Select team on Tuesday, which will train this month with the USA National Team in Las Vegas.

Oladipo averaged 16 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists last season for the Magic.

Joining Oladipo and Zeller on the Select team roster are: Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns); Malcolm Brogdon (University of Virginia); Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Detroit Pistons); Willie Cauley-Stein (Sacramento Kings); Kris Dunn (Providence College); Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic); Jerami Grant (Philadelphia 76ers); Gary Harris (Denver Nuggets); Rodney Hood (Utah Jazz); Brandon Ingram (Duke University); Brice Johnson (University of North Carolina), Stanley Johnson (Detroit Pistons); Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves); CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers); Doug McDermott (Chicago Bulls); Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver Nuggets); Jahlil Okafor (Philadelphia 76ers); Jabari Parker (Milwaukee Bucks); Julius Randle (Los Angeles Lakers); D’Angelo Russell (Los Angeles Lakers); Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics); Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Denzel Valentine (Michigan State University) and Justise Winslow (Miami Heat).

Oladipo had 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals in the 2015 USA Basketball Showcase on August 6, 2015.

Around the Hall: Power rankings, bracketology, Crean Q & A, more

Around the Hall is recommended reading from the Inside the Hall staff.

Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated published his offseason power rankings on Thursday and Indiana checks in at No. 12:

12. Indiana Hoosiers: Post-ups accounted for 8.7% of the Hoosiers’ offensive possessions last season, slightly above the national average of 8.1%, according to Synergy Sports Technology. I’m curious if the return of sophomore 7-footer Thomas Bryant will push that post-up rate higher. As a freshman Bryant averaged 1.02 points per possession in the post, making him the ninth-most efficient major-conference big man in that category (with a minimum of 100 possessions). Going too heavy on post-ups, especially when you have the shooters that Indiana does, is unwise, but Bryant was efficient enough last season that giving him the ball on the blocks was a better option for the Hoosiers than an isolation or a pick-and-roll.

Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com reveals a July edition of Bracketology:

There are four Big Ten teams in the top 16. Michigan State is top-rated and a No. 2 seed. Indiana and Wisconsin, which had Thomas Bryant and Nigel Hayes respectively decide not to leave for the NBA, check in as No. 3 seeds. Caleb Swanigan’s decision to return to Purdue boosts the Boilermakers to a No. 4 seed.

Terry Hutchens sat down with for a Q & A with Tom Crean and part one and part two are published over at The Herald-Bulletin:

CNHI: I know Blackmon had his surgery back on Jan. 5 so we’re now six months into his rehab. Is there any concern he’ll be limited early in the season?

Crean: I don’t think so. I don’t think he will. Not once we get into it. He’s on schedule to not be limited at all.

ESPN looks at a player from each preseason top 25 team who could get into coaching one day:

11. Indiana Hoosiers: Collin Hartman
Hartman is undersized against most forwards and outrun by most wings. Yet, he has thrived at Indiana. Why? He can shoot it, sure, but mostly he grasps the nuances of the game — angles, positioning, timing — in ways few college players can. Throw in an inherent understanding of advanced analytics, and that sounds like a pretty good coach to us. — Eamonn Brennan

Rick Bozich of WDRB.com writes on Thomas Bryant’s desire to establish a career rather than make a big splash:

Bryant was posted outside the men’s gymnasium at Cook Hall, visiting the weight room, locker room and nutrition area. Bryant is a confirmed worker bee, eager to accept any leadership role Crean asks him to consider.

“The biggest change for me is just having more responsibility for me and my teammates,” Bryant said. “Freshmen coming in, having new teammates, having to take them in and really getting them into the system. Having them understand what we are all about here at Indiana.”

2017 Fort Wayne Snider big man Malik Williams is eyeing August to trim his list of schools:

Louisville coach Rick Pitino, Purdue coach Matt Painter, N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried, Indiana assistant Chuck Martin and Iowa assistant Kirk Speraw were among those on hand to watch the 7-foot, 215-pound Williams play for Legit Basketball in a close loss.

“[I notice them] a little bit, I try not to worry about them too much,” Williams, a Class of 2017 center out of Fort Wayne (IN) R Nelson Snider, told SNY.tv.

Asked which schools were currently working the hardest, Williams listed Louisville, Purdue, Indiana, Iowa and Xavier among the top.

Jordan Hulls will play professionally next season in Germany:

The Eisbaeren Bremerhaven have found Jordan Hulls (180-G-90, college: Indiana) to help bolster their guard rotation for the upcoming season. Hulls is a 26 year old 180cm guard from Bloomington, Indiana that will commencing his fourth professional season after stops in Poland, Kosovo and Belgium. Last season he proved himself as a consistent contributor for Hubo Limburg United (Belgium-Scooore League) playing 35 games: 12.3ppg, 2.6rpg, 3.3apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 48.1%, FT-1 (96.2%).

POTB 136: A look inside IU’s offseason workouts

Podcast on the Brink is back for another episode with host Jerod Morris of The Assembly Call. The show is currently available weekly. You can access a full archive of episodes here.

In this edition of the show, Morris and Inside the Hall editor Alex Bozich are joined by Rick Bozich of WDRB.com, who recently watched an offseason workout in Bloomington. Among the topics discussed:

· Rick’s observations from an IU workout last week
· OG Anunoby’s improved shooting stroke
· Health updates on several Hoosiers
· Whether to buy or sell a big sophomore season from OG Anunoby
· Why the coaching staff is high on Josh Newkirk
· The continued development of Thomas Bryant (and Rick’s recent piece on the sophomore big man)
· Who will fill the leadership role with Yogi Ferrell’s graduation
· Next season’s Big Ten race and where IU fits in
· General recruiting thoughts and where things are headed

And much, much more. As always, feel free to drop the show a note at jerod@assemblycall.com.

Listen in the audio player below, download the episode, subscribe via iTunes or subscribe to the RSS feed.

(Photo credit: IU basketball)

Indiana enters the mix with 5-star guard M.J. Walker

Indiana is now in the mix for class of 2017 five-star guard M.J. Walker, according to reports out of the Under Armour All-American Camp in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The 6-foot-5 Walker is ranked the No. 24 prospect nationally according to the 247Composite.

The elite wing plays for Atlanta Xpress on the Under Armour Association Circuit and plays at Jonesboro High School in Georgia.

In a sitdown interview at the camp with Evan Daniels of Scout.com, Walker mentioned Indiana, North Carolina State, Cal and USC as some of the schools who have most recently become involved in his recruitment.

Two other schools mentioned prominently by Walker were Maryland and Florida State.

He’s a finalist for the USA Basketball U18 team that will begin training next week in Houston, Texas.

Walker was the leading scorer this past spring on the Under Armour Association circuit at 20.7 point per game. He also averaged 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.

(Photo credit: Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

What to watch for: July evaluation period

The first of three five-day July evaluation periods begins Wednesday at 5 p.m. and Inside the Hall takes you through five things we’ll be watching for as college coaches hit the trail to evaluate prospects:

· In-state class of 2017 prospects: It’s no secret that the class of 2017 is talent rich in Indiana. There are four prospects from Indiana in the top 34 of the latest 247Composite rankings in Kris Wilkes, Jaren Jackson, Paul Scruggs and Malik Williams. Indiana has offered a scholarship to all four, but Wilkes, Scruggs and Williams seem to be the three that the program is really targeting. Wilkes and Scruggs will start out July in the Under Armour All-American Camp in Charlotte while Williams will be in Philadelphia with his Fort Wayne-based Legit Basketball program. Jackson, meanwhile, will be in the EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina. Indiana has scouted each of these players for years, but will be looking to solidify their presence in their recruitments this month.

· Who are the top 2017 priorities? Our recruiting board attempts to shed light on who Indiana is targeting for the 2017 class, but it is inevitable that the board will be shifted by the end of the month. Some names will fall off, others will rise and new names should emerge. In 2013, July was the first month we really heard about Robert Johnson. And in 2014, OG Anunoby came from off the radar to emerge as a target. Many prospects have already stated that they will be trimming their lists at the end of the month. Which players will keep Indiana in the running? And perhaps even more importantly, which players will Indiana bring to campus in the fall for official visits? We’ll begin to get the answers to those questions this month.

· Will Indiana’s lone 2017 commit have a strong July? Indiana’s only committed player in the class of 2017 – Al Durham – had an up-and-down spring on the EYBL circuit with Southern Stampede. Durham had several games where he scored plenty of points and filled the stat sheet in other ways, but also struggled to shoot with efficiency. Will Durham close out his grassroots career with a strong July?

· The 2017 point guard situation: From a positional standpoint, point guard is probably Indiana’s biggest need in the 2017 class. The Hoosiers are involved with several point guards, including Scruggs, Tremont WatersMatt Coleman, Nick Weatherspoon and David Beatty. Scruggs seems like the most realistic fit given his proximity and the fact he’s been recruited for several years, but Indiana also seems to be in great shape with the other four names. Weatherspoon and Beatty both have Indiana on their trimmed down lists that were recently announced while Waters spoke favorably about the program in an interview in the spring as did Coleman.

· Can the Hoosiers reel in another 5-star big man? Thomas Bryant will probably head to the NBA after the upcoming season and while Indiana should have other reinforcements remaining on the roster, grabbing an elite big man in 2017 would be a major coup. So, who are the options? Mohamed Bamba and Nick Richards are two players that Indiana has recruited diligently, but neither has visited campus to this point. Emerging from July on the list for both players with a chance to secure an official visit would be an encouraging development. Indiana’s track record with 5-star big men has been excellent dating back to Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh, so there’s plenty for the staff to sell.

(Photo credit: Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

De’Ron Davis may not arrive in Bloomington until early August

Indiana’s top recruit in the class of 2016, De’Ron Davis, may not arrive on campus until later in the summer.

In a text message on Tuesday morning to Inside the Hall, Overland (Colo.) coach Danny Fisher said that Davis will not arrive in Bloomington this week as originally planned.

“The big fella is still here (in Colorado) and may not arrive in Bloomington until early August,” Fisher wrote in a text message. “He is hashing through some things he has to finish here in town and has been in constant contact with coach (Tom) Crean and staff. I don’t have an exact date, but early August is what everyone is expecting.”

Three members of IU’s 2016 class – Curtis Jones, Devonte Green and Grant Gelon – are already in Bloomington. Freddie McSwain is expected to arrive in August.

Davis, a four-star recruit, 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.

Around the Hall: 2017 point guards, Morgan and Anunoby and more

Around the Hall is recommended reading from the Inside the Hall staff.

NetsDaily.com talked to former Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell about how he can fit in with the Nets:

Ferrell believes that the Nets, in a rebuild situation, present him an opportunity to play hard and earn a roster spot during Summer League. “A lot of guys [on the Nets] are basically playing for a roster spot at this point so I think this was the best option to work hard and get one of those spots,” Ferrell said.

Jeff Borzello of ESPN runs through some of the biggest storylines for the July evaluation periods, including the point guard dominoes in the 2017 class:

5. Point guard dominoes: Heading into the spring, the point guard position was looking fairly weak for the 2017 class. Trevon Duval (No. 5) was the lone top-20 prospect, and while that is still the case, spring performances really solidified the top of the position. Trae Young (No. 21), Quade Green (No. 22) and Matt Coleman (No. 27) are now in the five-star ranks, and New England products Tremont Waters (No. 31) and Makai Ashton-Langford (No. 32) are not far behind. There’s a drop-off following those top six until the next uncommitted point guard, but here’s the biggest thing to watch among that group: there are several big schools prioritizing point guard in 2017, not the least of which are Duke and Kentucky.

Former Indiana guard Eric Gordon agreed to a four-year deal with the Houston Rockets:

The Rockets completed their second deal with a New Orleans free agent of the day on Saturday, agreeing to terms with guard Eric Gordon hours after they locked up his Pelicans teammate Ryan Anderson.

Gordon agreed to a four-year, $53 million contract with the Rockets, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

Mike Miller of The Herald-Times sat down for a Q & A with Tom Crean ($):

Q: How much is junior college transfer Freddie McSwain hurt by not being able to be here until August?

A: It’s a hindrance to his development here, it’s a hindrance for us getting his skills right, but at the same time, he’s showing a great determination because he could have signed with other schools and not have had to take this math class. But we require it and it was important for him to come to Indiana in his mind, and he’s taking this on as a great challenge. So we go to see him. Rob Judson has been to see him twice. We can’t see him play or workout and things like that, but to go to check on him and make sure he feels a part of it. That’s the same thing with De’Ron (Davis). De’Ron has got to get some academic work done and he’s doing it, and he’s doing well with it. I think if there’s anything that’s changing in college basketball and college sports in general it’s that everything is changing, so you better be fluid. It’s only going to change more. If you are rigid, regimented and can’t deal with change, you’re gonna struggle at coaching and you’re gonna struggle running a program. This is just part of it. I think the whole key becomes clear communication, staying in touch and making sure that we’re all trying to follow a plan that we have.

Rick Bozich of WDRB.com watched Juwan Morgan and OG Anunoby last week and came away impressed with both:

Anunoby showed a solid three-point stroke from the corners and the wings while developing the most explosive lower body on the team. IU graduate assistant Derek Elston said Anunoby has upgraded his outside stroke as he works on his ball-handling. He was making shots from the NBA three-point line — on catch-and-shoot as well as off-the-dribble situations. The Shot Doctor, assistant coach Tim Buckley, appeared pleased.

Morgan participated in all the drills, no longer wearing a protective brace on his surgically repaired left shoulder. Crean has discussed using Morgan as a ball-handler on the perimeter, similar to the role Troy Williams played the last three seasons. Morgan showed a solid left hand and improved shooting touch. He has a good first step as well as the ability to use either hand. Buckley also worked with Morgan.

The Oklahoman looks at what’s next for the Thunder without Kevin Durant:

There’s no Durant, which means there’s no realistic title hopes, which is a pretty devastating blow to Westbrook — one of the country’s most competitive humans. But there are young pieces of which Westbrook is very familiar.

Steven Adams is a 22-year-old emerging star. Enes Kanter is one of the most skilled offensive bigs around. Westbrook has developed great pick-and-roll chemistry with both over the past couple seasons. That would be his starting frontcourt.

In the backcourt, he’d pair with the recently acquired Victor Oladipo, forming one of the more athletic, explosive guard duos around. Probably the most electric in the open court.

“Definitely going to be fun to watch,” Oladipo said. “We have a similar mentality.”

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