Lamar Stevens wanted to see something different.
The 6-foot-6, 215 pound forward had never visited a school outside of Pennsylvania until this past weekend when he and his parents flew in for an unofficial visit to Indiana.
With schools like Villanova, Temple and Penn State all pushing to keep him close to home, the four-star class of 2016 prospect has also taken a high level of interest in the IU program.
“I’ve talked with Tom Crean over the phone and from his resume, he’s a very successful coach,” Stevens told Inside the Hall. “I’ve always been interested in watching schools like Indiana. So I’ve always had an interest in watching them and I wanted to get a feel for a different school outside of Pennsylvania. So that’s why we decided to take the trip. I’d never visited a school outside of Pennsylvania.”
Rated the No. 71 player nationally by the 247Composite, Stevens, who plays at the Haverford School, received an Indiana offer in July. The Haverford School is a private, all-boys school just outside of Philadelphia.
Assistant coach Chuck Martin, along with Crean, have both taken an active role in his recruitment.
Indiana’s class of 2015 recruits, Juwan Morgan and O.G. Anunoby, both tell Inside the Hall they plan to sign National Letters of Intent with the Hoosiers during the early signing period that begins today.
In a text message, Anunoby, a three-star forward from Jefferson City (Mo.) said he will sign on Monday, Nov. 17.
Morgan, a four-star forward from Waynesville (Mo.) said he will sign on Wednesday, Nov. 19, which is the final day of the early signing period.
Both players were on campus late last month for Hoosier Hysteria.
The 6-foot-8 Anunoby, who averaged 21.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game and was named first team all-state in Missouri for Class 5 as a junior, chose the Hoosiers over Georgia, Gonzaga, Iowa, Ole Miss and several others.
Morgan, a 6-foot-9 forward, chose Indiana over Vanderbilt, Washington and others. He was named the most improved player in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) for the 2014 season, averaging 10.9 points and 6.8 rebounds in the league’s regular season for MoKan Elite and 12.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 2.2 steals in the Peach Jam finals in July.
Indiana’s two-man recruiting class is currently ranked ninth in the Big Ten according to the 247Composite.
Mike Peterson has traveled a lot to Bloomington over the past couple years. And he knows he will continue to make the hour drive to IU plenty of times in the near future.
As the head coach of the Indy Hoosiers Grind AAU program, perhaps the top 15-and-under team in the nation this past summer, Peterson has had many of his players earn interest from Indiana.
Just this past Saturday, Peterson took several of his players to Bloomington for Hoosier Hysteria. And though it was not their first trip to IU, Peterson said he got the same reaction from his players that he usually gets following a trip to Bloomington.
“I think they all enjoyed going down to Bloomington and seeing that crazy fan support and getting the chance to see the new players and talk to coach (Tom) Crean,” Peterson told Inside the Hall on Thursday. “I’m not really hearing anything negative about IU from them. I think coach Crean and coach (Tim) Buckley have almost built like a close family oriented atmosphere with the kids. Everybody knows each other on a first-name basis. We’re down there a lot. I think they’re very comfortable with IU.
“I think the distance helps. I think the history helps. I think the way the coaching staff allows them to play and not only that, but the biggest thing is when you land in Bloomington, you leave a bigger, stronger, better athlete, better player than when you came. And that’s huge.”
Before three of Peterson’s players even played a game in high school, Crean extended scholarship offers.
Last year, the Hoosiers offered guard Paul Scruggs (Southport) and forwards Kris Wilkes (North Central) and Zach Gunn (Hamilton Southeastern). The trio led the Hoosiers to an undefeated record in 15U AAU action this past summer, including wins in the Under Armour Jayhawk Invitational, Under Armour Invitational and Under Armour’s The Finals.
Indiana is expecting a major visitor at Saturday’s Hoosier Hysteria.
For the second straight weekend, class of 2015 Huntington Prep (W.V.) big man Thomas Bryant will be in Bloomington. The 6-foot-10 post player was in town last weekend for his official visit and sources tell Inside the Hall that he’ll follow that up with a trip on Saturday for Hysteria.
Two of his Huntington Prep teammates, Curtis Jones and Miles Bridges, are also expected to attend. A full list of visitors expected for Hysteria is available in our premium forum.
Bryant was a standout in July’s EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam and was a big reason that his Team SCAN program advanced all the way to the event’s semifinals.
Over five games at the Peach Jam, he averaged 16 points and 10.5 rebounds. He also had 10 blocks, hit 19 of his 22 free throws and made 62.9 percent of his field goals.
Bryant is currently rated as the No. 25 prospect nationally according to the 247Composite.
Blair Thompson, the coach at Jefferson City high school in Missouri, has an up-close perspective on IU’s latest commit, O.G. Anunoby.
As a junior at Jefferson City, Thompson was on the sideline as Anunoby averaged 21.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game and was named first team all-state in Missouri for Class 5.
Inside the Hall caught up with Thompson for an in-depth conversation on Anunoby and we discussed what put Indiana over the top in his recruitment, how Anunoby handled the recruiting process, his long term potential and much more.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation with Thompson:
On what pushed Indiana ahead of the other schools in O.G.’s recruitment:
“The relationship he developed through the recruiting process with the coaching staff was a big key. I think he was thankful to be part of the Indiana tradition and compete at the highest level in a very good conference. I feel like all that along with his visit to Indiana went really well.
“All those things considered, I think, gave him the information he needed to base his decision off of. I think in the end, everything he was looking for in a school, Indiana offered. I think through the process of going through that, when all the smoke cleared, Indiana is where he wanted to go.”
On Wednesday afternoon, class of 2015 Owasso (Okla.) guard Shake Milton will announce his college decision at his high school. The announcement is expected to come at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Here’s our primer for the announcement with everything you need to know:
Guard, 6-4, 185 pounds, Owasso (Okla.), MoKan Elite
247Composite: 4-star (84); ESPN: 4-star (71); Rivals: 4-star (66); Scout: 4-star (NR)
Offers: Baylor, Creighton, Houston, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, SMU, Texas A&M, Tulsa, Wake Forest, Wichita State
Official visits: Oklahoma, SMU, Indiana
The primary contenders
Milton cancelled a previously scheduled official visit to Illinois, leaving him with a final three of Oklahoma, SMU and Indiana. He will be choosing from the three schools he took official visits to.
Class of 2015 Jefferson City (Mo.) forward O.G. Anunoby became the second member of Indiana’s 2015 recruiting class tonight when he announced his commitment to the Hoosiers at his high school.
Inside the Hall spoke with Anunoby about the decision and a full transcript of our Q & A is transcribed below:
On why he decided on Indiana:
“I just felt it was the best fit for me. I like the coaching staff. They probably recruited me the hardest.”
On what he liked about the coaching staff:
“How much they want to get their players better. I liked that a lot.”
On how difficult the decision was and whether he went back and forth on it: