Indiana coach Tom Crean believes the Hoosiers finally have their big man.
Speaking on Wednesday afternoon at Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers coach couldn’t hold back his enthusiasm and excitement about the future.
Thomas Bryant, a 6-foot-10 center from Huntington Prep (W.V.), had officially signed his National Letter of Intent with Indiana.
“It’s a transformative sign for us,” Crean said. “Going into another part of the country and getting a guy that is not only an excellent player, but getting somebody that comes in here with an infectious attitude and an infectious energy, that’s exactly what we needed.
“We needed the presence of an inside player. That’s obvious. But he’s so much more than that.”
Just one day prior to Crean’s announcement on Wednesday, the Hoosiers’ coach and assistant Chuck Martin were in West Virginia, meeting with Bryant. It completed the long recruitment Indiana committed toward Bryant, one that Crean said he was fully invested in from the first time he saw Bryant on tape.
Yes, this 6-foot-10, 225-pound center “pounded the ball,” whether it be dunking or blocking the ball. Yes, he was a highly rated recruit. What stood out to Crean more than anything, though, was his demeanor on the court.
A pair of prospects – one in the class of 2016 and one in the class of 2018 – received scholarship offers from Indiana this week.
Nick Ward (pictured), a rising senior from Gahanna Lincoln in Columbus, Ohio, was offered by the Hoosiers on April 18 and Jonathan Kabongo, a rising sophomore who plays at Huntington Prep (W.V.), was offered a scholarship on Tuesday according to his coach, Arkell Bruce.
Ward, a 6-foot-9 power forward, is rated the No. 53 prospect in the 2016 class by the 247Composite. Ward, who plays AAU for All Ohio Red, is currently the leading rebounder in the Nike EYBL at 10.2 per game.
Kabongo, the younger brother of former Texas guard Myck Kabongo, is a 6-foot-3 point guard who also holds an offer from Virginia Tech and is a native of Toronto.
Maker focused on four schools
Thon Maker, who visited Indiana for its final regular season game against Michigan State at Assembly Hall, is focused on four schools according to his mentor Edward Smith.
Former Indiana All-American and current Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo was courtside for Friday night’s Jordan Brand Classic at the Barclays Center.
Oladipo, who averaged over 17 points in his second NBA season, is a Jordan Brand athlete, along with Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh.
In an interview with ESPN2 during the broadcast for the Jordan Brand Classic, Oladipo was asked for his thoughts on class of 2015 big man Thomas Bryant, who committed to the Hoosiers earlier this month.
“I thought they did a great job (this past season), but we do need an inside presence,” Oladipo said. “They need an inside presence, especially defensively, someone to protect the paint and rebound. So he’s going to be big for us. He’s gonna be a huge help.”
Bryant finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for the East team, which fell 118-116 to the West, in the Jordan Brand Classic.
He was 5-of-10 from the field, 0-of-3 on 3-pointers and 1-of-2 from the free throw line.
Indiana already has two players signed for its 2015 class and expects to receive a National Letter of Intent soon from McDonald’s All-American Thomas Bryant, but the Hoosiers may not be done recruiting for the incoming class.
The 6-foot-4 Mulder, who is originally from Windsor, Ontario, averaged 15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds last season and will have two years of eligibility at his next school.
Earlier this month, Vincennes assistant coach Brian Davis told Inside the Hall’s Jordan Littman that Creighton, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Missouri, Wichita State were the schools with offers out to Mulder.
Kentucky is also now involved with the JUCO All-American, per multiple reports. The Wildcats lost seven players early to the NBA draft.
Throughout the 2014-2015 season, 2016 guard Tony Carr watched Indiana basketball on TV.
The Hoosiers had just started recruiting the 6-foot-4 guard, ranked No. 91 in the junior class by the 247Composite, and the Hoosiers had already extended a scholarship offer to his close friend, 6-foot-6 junior Lamar Stevens.
So on Saturday, when the Hoosiers finally extended an offer to Carr, the rising senior got exactly what he wanted.
“It means everything, man,” Carr told Inside the Hall on Monday. “I’ve been watching Indiana all season on TV, and I just know it’s a great school and they have great history, great tradition there. And once I heard I got the offer, I was just super excited.”
But for Carr, Indiana’s offer has extra significance.
Class of 2015 Huntington Prep (W.V.) big man and IU commit Thomas Bryant was one of three future Hoosiers who participated in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall.
Inside the Hall was there for both practices, the Night of the Future Stars event and the game. Today, we conclude our recap of the weekend for all three recruits with our look at Bryant.
19 points (8-of-13 FG, 3-of-6 3PFG), six rebounds (two offensive), two blocks, two turnovers and a steal in 20 minutes; Purple Team MVP
For those who had a chance to watch Bryant in Louisville, it is hard to draw anything but positives about his weekend. Off the court in interviews, he is an engaging and polite kid who likes to smile and laugh. His personality is one that Indiana fans should quickly embrace. And on the court, there’s plenty to like about the player he is now and the player he can become once he arrives in Bloomington. He’s only 17 and won’t turn 18 until late July, which means there’s still a chance he will continue to grow. He’s certainly strong enough to hold his own right now in the paint, but should look like a totally different person, particularly in the upper body, once he goes through several months of weight training at the college level.
Class of 2015 Jefferson City (Mo.) forward and IU signee O.G. Anunoby was one of three future Hoosiers who participated in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall.
Inside the Hall was there for both practices, the Night of the Future Stars event and the game and will be recapping the weekend for all three recruits.
12 points (4-of-7 FG, 0-of-1 3PFG, 4-4 FT), four rebounds (one offensive), one assist, one steal in 18 minutes
Along with Louisville recruit Ryan McMahon, Anunoby was one of just two recruits selected for the Derby Festival Basketball Classic without much of a national profile, but used the weekend to showcase that he belonged. A long, athletic wing, Anunoby is a legit 6-foot-7 and showed off his ability to rise and finish at the rim in Friday morning’s practice. In fact, one of the event organizers told me that many of his peers believed he would win the dunk contest on Friday night, a prediction that didn’t come to fruition after he got off to a rocky start on his first dunk and never recovered.