Less than a week removed from a disappointing end to the 2013-2014 season, Indiana coach Tom Crean is hitting the recruiting trail hard.
On Tuesday, Crean pulled double duty and watched two highly contested state playoff games in different states.
His first stop was Detroit where he watched class of 2014 forward Yante Maten and Bloomfield Hills move past Warren Mott, 74-68, in the Michigan Class A quarterfinals on the University of Detroit campus.
Maten, a 6-foot-8 forward, scored 31 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the win. The victory means Bloomfield Hills will play in the Class A semifinals on Friday at the Breslin Center against Detroit U-D Jesuit.
It’s the second time Indiana scouted Maten this week as associate head coach Tim Buckley watched him on Monday.
Maten, ranked the No. 290 prospect nationally in the 247Composite, has also drawn attention this spring from Michigan State.
About a year ago, Christian Watford’s block in the round of 32 helped seal Indiana’s win over Temple as the Hoosiers advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.
The Temple player Watford blocked, 6-foot-9 forward Anthony Lee, is now leaving that program and is one of the first significant graduate transfers to emerge this spring.
The graduate transfer has become a major part of spring recruiting in college basketball as it allows players who have graduated to seek immediately eligibility at another program. For programs seeking an immediate contributor, it can be a better alternative to reaching for a lower rated player or a JUCO prospect.
Indiana has had experience pursuing graduate transfers in recent years. The Hoosiers recruited Garrett Green, who ultimately picked San Diego State before the 2011-2012 season. And after Maurice Creek and Remy Abell left the program last spring, Indiana added Evan Gordon from Arizona State.
Given that Indiana continues to recruit frontcourt players for the class of 2014 with the likely departure of Noah Vonleh to the 2014 NBA Draft, it makes sense that Lee could get a look from any program in need of frontcourt help.
The left-handed forward is originally from Maryland, but his family now resides in the Quad Cities in Iowa.
So what kind of player is he?
Class of 2014 Indiana signee James Blackmon Jr. was selected to participate in this year’s Jordan Brand Classic, according to the game’s Twitter account.
Blackmon Jr. will be on the East roster in the April 18th game that will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Jordan Brand Classic is in its 13th year.
Indiana, Ohio State (D’Angelo Russell), Michigan (Kameron Chatman) were the only three Big Ten schools to have a signee selected for this year’s game.
“The McDonald’s game is always going to be the pinnacle, but this game is right there,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “That’s a huge reward for a great year for James. It’s a big deal.”
Past Indiana players to be selected for the Jordan Brand Classic include Noah Vonleh (2013), Troy Williams (2013), Eric Gordon (2007), Robert Vaden (2004), D.J. White (2004) and Bracey Wright (2002).
Blackmon Jr., the No. 28 recruit in the 247Composite, will also play in the McDonald’s All-American game on April 2 in Chicago and the Nike Hoop Summit on April 12 in Portland, Oregon.
Complete rosters are available after the jump.
Future Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr. scored 53 in a pair of wins for Marion over the weekend, continuing his rise up the state’s all-time scoring list.
On Friday, Blackmon Jr. scored 24 in a comfortable 80-62 win at Muncie Central and he followed that up with 29 points in an 82-54 blowout victory over Fort Wayne Wayne on Saturday night.
Blackmon Jr. now has 2,264 career points, which ranks 12th all-time in Indiana history:
With two regular season games remaining, the future Indiana guard needs 67 points to move past Brady Atkins and Delray Brooks and break into the top ten on the list .
Blackmon Jr. is averaging 33.6 points per game this season. Marion wraps up its regular season with games against Fort Wayne South and Fort Wayne Snider.
The Giants (15-4) will open sectional play on Tuesday, Mar. 4 against Logansport at Kokomo. Marion beat Logansport 98-64 on Jan. 17.
If they advance, they would face host Kokomo on Friday, Mar. 7.
Wednesday evening held a lot of importance for future Indiana guard Robert Johnson.
The 6-foot-3 Benedictine Prep (Va.) standout was one of six seniors honored at senior night for the Cadets and on the court, Johnson led his team to its 23rd win, an 81-64 triumph over Pope John Paul the Great (Va.).
Johnson scored a game-high 26 points and added 12 rebounds and five assists with Tom Crean and Kenny Johnson in attendance at Memorial Gymnasium.
He hit 10 of his 18 shots from the field, including 4-of-7 from behind the 3-point arc.
“Robert had the challenge of being the only returning starter this year from a state championship team that graduated four division I guys,” Benedictine coach Ryan Marable told Inside the Hall. “He has embraced that challenge not only statistically by carrying much of the scoring and rebounding loads while guarding the other teams best player night in and night out, but also by providing leadership and guidance to our guys on a daily basis in practices and games.”
Through 27 games, Johnson is averaging 24.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
Indiana’s recruiting efforts for the class of 2014 have continued into the late winter as the Hoosiers look to add to a three-man class that features James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson and Max Hoetzel.
One of the targets who will be on campus for one of IU’s remaining home games is Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.) forward Marvin Clark, a 6-foot-7, 225 pound forward.
According to Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted, Clark has already visited Kansas State, Iowa State and Seton Hall and also has interest from Michigan State. He’ll visit Bloomington for the Ohio State game on the weekend of March 1-2.
“(Indiana’s interest) probably started about a month or a month and a half ago,” Lindsted told Inside the Hall. “They just recently came in and we nailed down the date for the visit on the first weekend in March.”
Clark, who was originally a member of the 2013 class, moved to the 2014 class upon arriving at Sunrise Christian. Since that time, Clark has undergone plenty of growth both on and off the court, according to Lindsted.
Many of the obstacles he’s overcome off the court are documented in a short film released in May of last year on YouTube.
“I think the growth of him as a player and as a person go hand in hand,” Lindsted said. “Since the first time we laid our eyes on Marv, he’s been exceptionally talented and very athletic. When he came to Sunrise, obviously the work ethic had to change. It was the first time he had to just do more than just be more talented than everybody else.”
Lindsted admitted there were times he believed that Clark would not last with the structure and hard work that is required at Sunrise Christian.
Indiana’s need to land a big man in the class of 2015 is no secret and the Hoosiers are involved with several elite prospects who have high interest in the program.
But one prospect who has flown a bit under the radar until recently is Louisville Trinity (Ky.) forward Raymond Spalding. The 6-foot-9, 205 pound big man was scouted by Tom Crean on Jan. 28 and visited Bloomington on Feb. 2 for IU’s win over Michigan.
Inside the Hall watched Spalding on Feb. 7 and he finished with six points, six rebounds and four blocks in a 62-39 win over Western. It was just his second game back following a toe injury.
Rated the No. 111 prospect nationally in the 247Composite, Spalding, who has a 7-foot-2 wingspan, already has eight scholarship offers and interest from several high major programs.
“I talked to Indiana all through the summer. It’s a great program,” Spalding told Inside the Hall. “Coach (Tom) Crean is a great guy and coach Tim Buckley is a great guy, too. Their interest level is very high. I talked to them after the (Michigan) game a lot and they seem really, really interested in me.”