As Tom Crean and his assistant coaches Steve McClain, Tim Buckley and Kenny Johnson addressed the media about a 2014 recruiting class in which James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson and Max Hoetzel all signed their National Letter of Intents on Thursday, Crean emphatically repeated the phrase on multiple occasions.
“We addressed our needs with a capital ‘N’,” he said.
That need that was so effectively filled by a class with two 6-foot-3 guards and a 6-foot-7 forward?
“Downhill players that can make shots,” Crean said.
With a team that made only 2-of-24 3-point attempts in its first three halves of the season, Indiana’s 2014 recruiting class, ranked No. 17 according to the 247Composite, is regarded for its shooting. Blackmon and Johnson each have elite shot-making skills. Indiana focused on recruiting Hoetzel because of his size and long-range shooting ability, in addition to his athletic upside.
But with a team that might not have the shooting weapons it wants now, Indiana’s staff has found them, and they are only a year from donning the cream and crimson.
The last of three class of 2014 players expected to sign National Letters of Intent today with Indiana, Max Hoetzel made it official this afternoon by inking with the Hoosiers at Wilbraham and Monson Academy in Massachusetts.
Hoetzel, a 3-star prospect according to the 247Composite, committed to the program on Oct. 27 while on an official visit to Indiana. He joins guards James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson as Indiana’s other signees.
The 6-foot-7 shooter was under-recruited while at Calabasas (Calif.) High and transferred to Wilbraham and Monson this past August, where Indiana began recruiting him after a trip to Wilbraham originally intended to see then-target Goodluck Okonoboh.
Benedictine College Preparatory (Va.) guard Robert Johnson became the second official member of Indiana’s 2014 recruiting class when the 6-foot-3 guard signed his National Letter of Intent this afternoon.
Johnson delayed signing until today so that he could sign at G.H. Reid elementary school in Richmond.
The No. 48 player nationally according to the 247Composite, Johnson becomes the second player to sign with the Hoosiers today, joining Marion guard James Blackmon Jr.
The combo guard averaged 20.2 points and shoot 46.2 percent on 3-pointers at the Nike Peach Jam in July.
The first of three class of 2014 players expected to sign National Letters of Intent today with Indiana, James Blackmon Jr. made it official this morning by inking with the Hoosiers at Marion High School.
Blackmon Jr., the No. 31 player nationally according to the 247Composite, committed to the program on Oct. 31 in a televised announcement on ESPNU.
He’s the fourth highest rated recruit in the Tom Crean era (using 247Composite rankings) behind Cody Zeller, Noah Vonleh and Yogi Ferrell.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 33.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game as a junior at Ft. Wayne Luers and is considered one of the frontrunners for the 2014 Indiana Mr. Basketball award.
The early signing period for the 2014 recruiting class began Wednesday and all three of Indiana’s verbal commitments are scheduled to sign National Letters of Intent with the Hoosiers on Thursday.
James Blackmon Jr. will sign at 11:30 a.m. at Marion High, Robert Johnson at 3 p.m. at GH Reid Elementary in Richmond and Max Hoetzel at 3:30 p.m. at Wilbraham and Monson in Masaschusetts.
Here’s a capsule for each recruit in the class:
Guard, 6-3, 180-pounds, Benedictine College Preparatory (Va.)
247Composite: 4-star (48); ESPN: 4-star (44); Rivals: 4-star (42); Scout: 4-star (55)
Expert opinion: “Johnson is one of the most complete guards in the country. He’s a true combination guard as he can play point guard or the role of a shooter/scorer in a pinch. The strength of his game lies in scoring, with 3-point range and a pull-up jumper along with the ability to attack, drive and finish at the rim. He is not afraid to take jumpers in transition when he is open, a sign of self-confidence. As a point-guard type, he possesses the qualities of poise, vision and the understanding of how and when to distribute and make the assist.” – Paul Biancardi of ESPN.com.
Commitment coverage: Robert Johnson: Indiana is the “best fit for me”; Q & A: 2014 commit Robert Johnson talks IU visit, future
Video: Robert Johnson at the AAU Super Showcase
Class of 2014 Richmond Benedictine (Va.) guard Robert Johnson was in Bloomington over the weekend for IU basketball’s season opening win over Chicago State and IU football’s win over Illinois.
Inside the Hall spoke to the future Hoosier on Sunday evening to get a recap of his trip, discuss his plans for signing day and more:
On the takeaways from the weekend in Bloomington:
“I think experiencing my first game (at Assembly Hall) was good. The atmosphere was crazy as I expected so I was excited to see that. I think the game went pretty well. Some of the things that you think would happen with a young team happened. They had more turnovers than coach (Tom) Crean would have liked. Some of the time they got out of what they really wanted to do, but at times also they had real good spurts, too. One of the things that he pointed out was that they scored 100 points and only made one 3. Obviously that’s something he pointed out and said that I can help with. That’s one of the biggest things that I took away from the game.”
On playing with James Blackmon Jr.:
“I think it’s definitely going to be fun because we both offer something that they need right now and there’s a lot of playing time at the guard positions. I think coming in with him is going to be fun because we’re interchangeable because he can play on the ball and I can play off the ball and at the same time, when I have the ball also, people can’t really help off of him because he’s a shooter and when he has the ball, people can’t really help because I’m a shooter. So it will just open the floor up for the whole team.”
In a decision that literally came down to the final moments before going on air on ESPNU, James Blackmon Jr. committed to Indiana on Thursday night.
Inside the Hall talked at length with No. 31 player in the 247Composite on Friday evening about a variety of topics and a full transcript of our conversation is included below:
Inside the Hall: What was different about the decision making process this time aside from the fact that you’re three years older? When you committed the first time, I’m not sure how many schools you’d visited at that point, but what was different about the process this time than the first time you made your decision?
James Blackmon Jr.: This time, I looked around, I looked everywhere and I found some good schools. They were great. I felt like my top five, all of them would have fit me well and I would’ve had great careers at all of them. It just came down to where I was going to feel the most comfortable, the most at home and had the best relationship with the players and coaches. That’s what it came down to.
ITH: How much did the visits to the other schools give you a better appreciation for what you had at Indiana? I know you said you liked what you had at those schools, but did that help you realize that maybe what you had at Indiana was a little bit different than those places?