“Freshman Focus” is an Inside the Hall series on each of Indiana’s five incoming freshmen. Over the next couple of weeks, we will examine what kind of an impact each player can have for the Hoosiers next season. Today: Robert Johnson.
When Robert Johnson walked into the library at Benedictine College Preparatory on September 20, he was ready to end what had grown into an intense recruiting battle.
After an outstanding summer with the Boo Williams AAU program, Johnson, who at one time only held a scholarship offer from UNC-Greensboro, was a serious target for four schools: Florida State, Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia.
Once the family began taking its official visits last August, communication with the media by Johnson and his father, Robert Sr., slowed considerably. That left many in the dark on which direction he might be leaning in his decision.
Many believed that Johnson would head to Chapel Hill and play for Roy Williams at North Carolina, but the 6-foot-3 guard had a surprise for those who predicted that he would play in the ACC.
“I want to thank all the schools that recruited me and offered me a scholarship,” Johnson said, as he reached for a hat below the table where he sat in the library. “In the fall of 2014, I’m gonna be attending…”
Johnson then put on an IU basketball hat.
Indiana continues to aggressively recruit for the class of 2015 and on Monday, the Hoosiers extended a scholarship offer to Owasso (Okla.) guard Shake Milton.
At 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, Milton is unranked in the 247Composite, but put together a big spring playing for MoKan Elite in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL).
In 16 EYBL games, Milton is averaging 11.6 points — on 50 percent shooting from the field — to go along with 5.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Perhaps even more impressive is his assist-to-turnover rate, which is better than 2-to-1 in EYBL play.
According to his 247Sports profile, Milton also has offers from Creighton, Houston, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, SMU, Texas A & M, Tulsa and Wake Forest.
At the final EYBL session in Eagan, Minnesota, Milton told reporters that he was being recruited the hardest by Baylor, Indiana and Oklahoma.
As a junior at Owasso, Milton was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Oklahoma. He averaged 28.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game and shot 63 percent on 2s and 88 percent from the free throw line.
Milton led the Rams to a 21-6 record and was also a first team all-state selection.
Indiana is also recruiting Milton’s AAU teammate with MoKan Elite, Juwan Morgan, a 6-foot-9, 220 pound power forward.
When Yogi Ferrell committed to Indiana in November of 2010, the Hoosiers solidified a major need at the point guard position for the foreseeable future.
Ferrell has started in all 68 games he’s played in since arriving at Indiana in the fall of 2012. But with his career in Bloomington now halfway over, the search for a potential replacement in the 2015 or 2016 class is a necessity.
The Indiana staff made an early move to prioritize class of 2016 Taylor County (Ky.) guard Quentin Goodin, the No. 54 player nationally in that class according to the 247Composite.
IU’s pursuit of Goodin has remained steady since offering a scholarship in May of 2013 and that consistency has the Hoosiers in a good position ahead of June 15, the first day coaches can begin unlimited contact with class of 2016 prospects.
“We’re very high on Indiana. There’s no doubt about it. We are,” Goodin’s father, Chris, told Inside the Hall on Friday. “They really made him feel like he was definitely a priority at their school. They really made him feel like, ‘we really want you.’”
As a sophomore, the 6-foot-3 Goodin averaged 20.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.9 steals as Taylor County finished 26-7. He was named second team all-state, all-5th region and to the 20th district all-tournament team.
Goodin has already been on multiple unofficial visits to Bloomington, including last February’s win over Michigan in which Ferrell scored 27 points and the Hoosiers upset the No. 10 Wolverines.
While some prospects are looking at June 15 as a date on which they can get a better grasp of which schools have serious interest, that’s not necessarily the case within the Goodin family.
Class of 2015 Aurora (Colo.) point guard Austin Conway had a decision to make last month that may have been tougher than his college choice that looms over the next few months.
A two-sport athlete at Overland High School, the 5-foot-10 Conway had multiple Division I offers for basketball and football.
Ultimately, Conway went the basketball route because many of the schools recruiting him for football wanted him as a wide receiver, not a quarterback, his position at Overland.
“Being a quarterback on the basketball court is being a point guard so I am playing quarterback just a different sport,” Conway told Aaron Matas of KUSA-TV in Denver.
With that decision out of the way, Conway can now focus on where he’ll play college basketball.
Indiana has been involved in his recruitment since 2012 and he recently made his first visit to the campus following the adidas Gauntlet stop in Fishers.
After getting involved with his recruitment following the first Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) session last month in Sacramento, Indiana took the next step in its pursuit of class of 2015 guard Kenny Williams today.
The Hoosiers offered a scholarship to the 6-foot-4 L.C. Bird (Va.) standout, who plays for Boo Williams and is a friend of incoming IU guard Robert Johnson.
Williams is the leading scorer for Boo Williams, which qualified for July’s Peach Jam, at 14.7 points per game. He’s shooting close to 47 percent on 3s in EYBL play.
The offer was first reported by Matthew Hatfield of VirginiaPreps.com.
Earlier this month, Williams told Inside the Hall he’s trying to make his game more well-rounded so he’s known as more than just a scorer.
One of the top rising juniors in the country, Gill St. Bernard’s (N.J.) guard Tyus Battle, is getting his first taste of the highest level of Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) circuit this spring and summer.
Battle, a 6-foot-5 guard who has taken two unofficial visits to Indiana already, is playing with New York-based Team Scan this year after previously playing for Pennsylvania-based Team Final.
The transition has allowed Battle to play multiple positions, which is something he hopes will help him when he arrives on a college campus in the fall of 2016.
“Team Final is a great organization. I love those guys a lot,” he said. “With Team Scan I get to play point guard more and playing with the big men down low prepares me for college a lot.”
In 16 EYBL games, Battle is averaging 8.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game for Team Scan, which qualified for July’s Peach Jam.
Battle’s shooting percentages haven’t been great — 34.1 percent overall from the field and 29.4 percent from behind the 3-point line — but that hasn’t slowed down his recruitment at all.
After receiving a scholarship offer from Indiana last summer and then taking an unofficial visit to Bloomington in January, class of 2015 Grand Rapids (Minn.) forward Alex Illikainen remains in regular contact with the Hoosier staff.
The 6-foot-9, 210 pound Illikainen is playing with Howard Pulley on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) circuit this spring and summer after previously playing with the Minnesota Cyclones.
The move to Howard Pulley, which is based in Minneapolis, has increased the amount of travel necessary for Illikainen. His home in Grand Rapids is more than three hours away from where the team practices.
“I live three and half hours away and come down Tuesdays and Thursdays for practice,” he said. “For the EYBL sessions, I usually stay over and we fly out early Friday morning for the EYBL. So, it’s kind of tough to keep up with it (and) stay fresh and that kind of stuff and still go to school, but I manage and just keep track of my time and make the best of the situation. It’s been absolutely worth it.”
Pulley finished the EYBL regular season with a 10-6 mark, which qualified for the Peach Jam in July, Nike’s premier event of the summer. Illikainen is averaging 10.6 points and 4.8 rebounds and is shooting 44.8 percent on 3s.
He admitted there was a transition period in getting acclimated to EYBL play, which features many of the nation’s top players.