INDIANAPOLIS — If you watch class of 2017 North Central forward Kris Wilkes for just a few minutes, it’s not hard to figure out why he’s become an early recruiting priority for several schools, including Indiana.
Although he just completed his freshman season, Wilkes is a matchup nightmare on the wing at 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan. He can score from the perimeter with his jump shot, beat his man off the dribble and uses his size well in the paint to finish over smaller opponents.
And unlike some of his peers who are already physically developed, his game should continue to grow as he works to put on weight. It’s not just about basketball, either, for Wilkes. He’s a black belt in Taekwando and has a GPA well over 3.0.
As a freshman at North Central, he averaged 9.4 points per game and 3.3 rebounds per game as the Panthers finished 16-7 and fell to Carmel in the sectional. His role should expand as a sophomore as North Central lost leading scorer Eron Gordon, who transferred to Cathedral.
This summer, Wilkes, who is just 15, is a major piece on the Under Armour Indy Hoosiers 15-and-under group that also features Southport’s Paul Scruggs, Hamilton Southeastern’s Zach Gunn, Pike’s Justin Roberts and Gary Trent Jr., a Minnesota native.
In its first game of the July evaluation period at the adidas Invitational, the Indy Hoosiers attracted Indiana coach Tom Crean, who offered Wilkes a scholarship last summer.
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s approach to pursuing the top players in the state under Tom Crean has been unwavering.
In his six-plus years in Bloomington, Crean has made it a point to get in early with many of the state’s top prospects and in three of the last four years, he’s landed a McDonald’s All-American from Indiana.
The 2017 class is shaping up as another talented group and one of the standouts is Southport guard Paul Scruggs, who received an offer from the Hoosiers last July.
The 6-foot-3 Scruggs is playing in front of college coaches this month with the talented Under Armour Indy Hoosiers 15-and-under AAU team that also includes North Central’s Kris Wilkes, Hamilton Southeastern’s Zach Gunn, Pike’s Justin Roberts and Gary Trent Jr., who is from Minnesota.
Crean was in Indianapolis on Thursday night to watch their first game of July. On Friday, the group attracted assistant coaches from Louisville, Michigan State, Purdue and Xavier. A combination of factors, including fan support, the coaching staff and proximity to campus, has the Hoosiers in solid position early with Scruggs.
INDIANAPOLIS — If it wasn’t clear going into July what kind of priority Louisville Trinity (Ky.) forward Raymond Spalding is for Indiana in its class of 2015 recruiting efforts, the start of the first July evaluation period is putting things into focus.
With high profile events like the Reebok Classic, LeBron James Skills Academy and adidas Unrivaled going on at other venues across the country, Indiana coach Tom Crean was at North Central high school on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning to watch Spalding in the adidas Invitational.
The fact that Crean was in attendance for Spalding’s first two games, the only head coach in his top three schools to earn that distinction, wasn’t lost on the rising senior.
“It really tells a lot about him and his program,” Spalding told Inside the Hall. “He takes basketball to heart over there. He’s a great coach. For him to come to my games, the head coach, the head guy, that means a lot. I talk to coach Crean every day. He’s becoming one of my best friends. We talk every day about basketball and our families in general. He’s a great guy, great coach.”
On Wednesday evening, Spalding poured in 34 points and 11 rebounds as The Ville beat UA Grind, 76-67 and he followed that up with 14 points as The Ville beat St. Louis Gateway, 64-43, on Thursday morning.
Crean, along with Xavier coach Chris Mack and assistants from Clemson and Tennessee, watched Spalding on Thursday morning. After the comfortable win over St. Louis Gateway, Spalding talked more in-depth about his relationship with Crean.
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:
· Who will emerge as the top 2015 targets? With a little over four months until the start of the early signing period in November, Indiana has no players committed for its 2015 recruiting class. It’s a unique position as Indiana has had at least one, if not two or more, commitments going into July dating back to the beginning of Tom Crean’s tenure in Bloomington. The lone exception was in the summer of 2009 when the Hoosiers had yet to secure a commitment from Victor Oladipo or Will Sheehey, who would both commit in the fall and sign in November.
Last year, Indiana went into July with a commitment from James Blackmon Jr., who then opted to reopen his recruitment in August and then recommitted in late October. Indiana’s top 2015 recruiting targets are outlined on the recruiting board and familiar names like Raymond Spalding, Shake Milton, Juwan Morgan, Kenny Williams and Jalen Coleman are all sure to be tracked heavily this month. But will a name lower on the board rise up or a new name totally off the radar, like Robert Johnson last July, emerge? That question will be answered soon enough.
· 2016 comes into greater focus: Indiana has already established itself very well with several class of 2016 prospects like T.J. Leaf, De’Ron Davis, Braxton Blackwell, Kyle Guy, Payton Pritchard, Quentin Goodin, Eli Wright and Nick Rakocevic. Each of those players have already visited Bloomington, which indicates there’s legitimate mutual interest between the prospect and the program.
After opting to reopen his recruitment back on May 29, interest in class of 2015 Sagemont (Fla.) guard Prince Ali has ramped up.
Ali, rated the No. 37 prospect nationally according to the 247Composite, had an impressive spring for Southern Stampede on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) circuit.
So when he decided last month that he committed too soon to Connecticut, it gave schools another shot at recruiting the 6-foot-4 guard who is originally from New York.
Indiana had been interested in Ali prior to his decision to commit to Connecticut and the Hoosiers are right back in the mix. In a phone interview with Inside the Hall from the Kevin Durant Skills Academy in Washington D.C., Ali listed Indiana, along with Connecticut, Michigan and UCLA, as the four schools recruiting him the hardest right now.
“So far it’s just been them telling me that they’ve been watching me for a while and when I committed (to UConn), it kind of threw them off and then when I decommitted, it made them happy,” he said. “That’s what Tom Crean told me. He told me I play like two of his former players in Victor Oladipo and Dwyane Wade. I remind him a lot of them.”
So what does Ali think of being compared to a pair of former All-Americans and current NBA guards?
Class of 2015 La Lumiere guard and IU recruiting target Jalen Coleman announced his top six schools on Friday and the Hoosiers are on the list.
Coleman named Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Notre Dame, UNLV and NC State as his finalists, in no particular order. The news was reported by Brian Snow of ScoutHoops.com.
The 6-foot-3 Coleman is rated the No. 30 player nationally by the 247Composite. He’s averaging 15.2 points per game and shot 50 percent from behind the 3-point line for All-Ohio Red in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League. All-Ohio Red will play in July’s EYBL finals at the Peach Jam.
Indiana was the first school to offer Coleman a scholarship before he entered his freshman season at Cathedral in Indianapolis.
One of the top rising juniors in Michigan made a trip to Bloomington on Monday for an unofficial visit and left with a very favorable impression of the Indiana program, according to his high school coach.
Austin Davis, a 6-foot-10, 240 pound center from Onsted, got his first look at the Indiana program along with his parents and coach, Brad Maska.
“We were blown away. It was very impressive. The whole college package (is there) with Indiana,” Maska told Inside the Hall. “Obviously with the tradition in basketball, that speaks for itself. The beauty of the campus itself was amazing, the dedication to academics that they showed right from the start was very impressive, the strength and conditioning, it was just a great opportunity.
“I know Austin and both of his parents were very impressed with everything. The coaches were great, it was a family atmosphere.”
As a sophomore at Onsted, Davis averaged 21.6 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks per game. He was named first team all-state by the basketball coaches of Michigan and The Detroit Free Press. At just 15 years old with a 7-foot wingspan, Davis has grown six inches since his eighth grade year and it’s often a challenge for big men to continue making adjustments while growing rapidly.
Maska believes his big man, who has early scholarship offers from Central Michigan and Toledo, is meeting that challenge head on.