INDIANAPOLIS — On Saturday morning at the adidas Gauntlet Series, Rawle Alkins ran into a familiar face.
Thomas Bryant, Indiana’s newest commit, happened to be at Best Choice Fieldhouse to watch several AAU games with his high school coaches. He stopped Alkins in his tracks.
“He said we could take IU by storm,” Alkins said. “Me and him would just kill, together.”
With Alkins playing just over an hour from Indiana’s campus, the Hoosiers this past weekend took the opportunity to continue their prioritization of recruiting Alkins — a class of 2016 prospect and the Christ the King (N.Y.) guard ranked No. 29 in the class, according to the 247 Composite.
The Hoosiers chose to have a member of their staff at every game Alkins played in Indianapolis. They have had Jordan Fuchs — current walk-on and Alkins’ former high school teammate — and Bryant recruiting him, as well.
“I would say they’re probably recruiting me the hardest right now,” he said.
Throughout Alkins’ recruitment to Indiana, the two sides have shown reciprocated interest.
Indiana began with a scholarship offer last June and has made it a priority to load Alkins with mail and messages to show their high interest in the 6-foot-5 guard. “Oh yeah, I love their mail,” he said.
With his high school career over and his National Letter of Intent signed and delivered to Indiana University, Thomas Bryant is looking ahead to his future.
Bryant had been vocal since his commitment that he wanted to play with Troy Williams, James Blackmon Jr. and Yogi Ferrell and all three players opted to return to Bloomington in recent weeks. The addition of Bryant plus the return of IU’s top eight scorers sets the Hoosiers up for a preseason top 15 ranking and a viable contender in the Big Ten.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Bryant as he participated in the McDonald’s All-American Game, the DICK’s National Tournament, the Derby Festival Basketball Classic and most recently, the Jordan Brand Classic, which put a wrap on his prep career.
“It was a real good experience just going out there and knowing it was the last event of my high school career,” Bryant said Friday in Louisville at the Under Armour Association event. “I just wanted to try to go out with a bang.”
Bryant finished with 11 points and eight rebounds in the Jordan Brand Classic.
Now the focus for Bryant shifts to getting prepared for his arrival in Bloomington. He’ll graduate in late May with a plan of arriving on campus in June. Last week, he received a visit from Tom Crean and Chuck Martin at Huntington Prep.
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.