With the recent decommitment of James Blackmon Jr., the list of guards on IU’s radar has undergone a bit of a shakeup. Here’s an updated look at all of Indiana’s 2014 guard targets.
1. Robert Johnson, 6-3, 180 pounds
· Primary position: Shooting Guard
· From: Benedictine High School, Richmond, VA
· Ranking: No. 2 player in Virginia according to ESPN.com
· Considering: Florida State, Georgetown, Indiana, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia
· Planned visits: Indiana, August 23
· Analysis: “He can really play now. He can play the 1, he can play the 2. He can really shoot. He just knows how to play. He’s got great footwork.” — AAU coach Boo Williams
2. Isaiah Whitehead, 6-4, 195 pounds
· Primary position: Shooting Guard
· From: Lincoln High School, Brooklyn, NY
· Ranking: No. 35 nationally according to ESPN.com
· Considering: Arizona, Indiana, Syracuse, Miami (FL), Minnesota, UCLA
· Planned visits: Indiana, Syracuse, Arizona, UCLA, Miami (all in September or October)
· Analysis: “He’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. His shooting has gotten a lot better. He’s consistently hitting a jumper from NBA range. And he’s strong, he’s strong getting to the basket. That’s always been a strength of his.” — Assistant coach James Barrett
LouRawls Nairn, a 2014 point guard from Bel Aire, Kansas, narrowed his list to Indiana, Minnesota and Oklahoma on Tuesday.
Nairn also scheduled official visits to all three of his finalists, with a trip to Bloomington set for Sept. 20-21. The Indiana football team will play Missouri that weekend.
Nairn’s visits to Oklahoma (Aug. 23-25) and Minnesota (Aug. 29-31) will take place before his trip to Indiana.
Nairn, who stands just 5-foot-10, is ranked 61st in the 2014 class, according to Rivals.com. He is unranked by both ESPN.com and Scout.com.
“Indiana is a great program with big time basketball and a great coach,” Nairn told Inside the Hall on Tuesday.
Nairn, who played for the MOKAN Elite AAU program, averaged 10.6 points, 4.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game in this year’s Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL).
He shot 43 percent from the field and 57.9 percent from the foul line. His 79 assists ranked seventh overall in the EYBL.
Nairn told Inside the Hall he talks to the Indiana coaching staff 1-2 times per week.
Indiana will play LIU-Brooklyn on Nov. 12 and Stony Brook on Nov. 17 at Assembly Hall as a part of the 2K Classic, according to a press release issued Tuesday.
The Hoosiers will play in the tournament’s championship round games at Madison Square Garden in New York Nov. 21-22 beginning with a game against Washington.
The full release is available below:
Headlining the field are Indiana, UConn, Boston College, and Washington. These four teams, which combine for 102 NCAA Tournament appearances, will each host a pair of regional round games on campus from Nov. 12-17 before heading to the World’s Most Famous Arena for the Championship Rounds on Nov. 21-22.
The remainder of the 12-team field will participate in subregional rounds held from Nov. 22-24. The University of Detroit and UC Irvine will serve as subregional hosts and will be joined by Boston University, Eastern Washington, Florida Atlantic, LIU Brooklyn, Stony Brook, and Toledo.
After James Blackmon Jr. decommitted last week, it seemed likely Indiana would turn its attention to other 2014 guards it had already offered. Instead, Tom Crean issued a new offer to Isaiah Whitehead, who hadn’t heard from the Hoosiers until last Friday night.
But Whitehead wasn’t the only contact Crean made in the aftermath of Blackmon Jr.’s decision.
Crean also reached out to Augusta (Ga.) guard Ahmed Hill, who has had a good relationship with Indiana for some time.
Hill, who got a scholarship offer from Indiana last summer, told Inside the Hall he received text messages from Crean and assistant coaches Tim Buckley and Kenny Johnson.
“They asked if I was serious about them,” Hill told Inside the Hall.
“Of course,” he said. “Since day 1.”
Hill, who is ranked 34th in the 2014 class by ESPN.com, said he doesn’t talk to the Indiana coaching staff as much as he used to. Earlier this summer, Hill listed Indiana among four schools he talked to most often.
Hill has not yet scheduled any official visits, and said he doesn’t know if he will take a visit to Indiana.
Robert Johnson will take an official visit to Bloomington the weekend of Aug. 24, his only scheduled official visit at this point.
It was reported earlier in the week that Johnson would also take a visit to Pittsburgh, but he later shot that down on Twitter and his dad confirmed that no visit has been schedule there, though they are talking to Pitt coach Jamie Dixon.
Robert Johnson Sr. said his son has talked with Virginia about taking an official visit the weekend of Sept. 6-7.
The decommitment of James Blackmon Jr. last week could be a factor for Johnson, who plays a similar role. I asked his father what Johnson’s reaction was when Blackmon Jr. announced he would reopen his recruitment.
“He did hear that news,” Johnson Sr. said. “That doesn’t really change his process. Of course he hopes James ends up back there at Indiana because he feels James is a great player and they complement each other well. Although, they are both good shooters.
“I think Rob has probably handled the ball a little more than James, James likes to play off the ball, but they are similar players.”
Johnson Sr. said his son wants to make a college decision before his high school season begins in November.
If Indiana impresses him away on his visit later this month, there’s a pretty good chance that could be the only visit he takes.
The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@Justin_Albers or @insidethehall) and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.
@jaktucke writes: Do you think CTC needs to adjust his strategy toward recruiting, esp regarding early offers? #iubb #ITHMailbag
There’s been a lot of discussion about this since Blackmon Jr.’s decommitment, but quite frankly, I don’t think he needs to adjust anything. The simple fact is if you want to be a player on some of the nation’s top recruits, you need to start early on some of them. Coaching staffs go into it with the mindset that some early offers will pan out and some won’t. That’s just how it is. Some kids will undoubtedly become stagnant in their development due to the early attention, and others will continue to work. Just because Trey Lyles and James Blackmon Jr. decommitted after making early commitments early doesn’t mean Crean and his staff did anything wrong or should change their approach going forward. It happens. If Eron Gordon commits tomorrow, I don’t think anyone’s going to complain.
The “how early is too early” discussion is one we’ll continue to have down the road because the recruiting process is going to continue to start earlier and earlier. By definition, the NCAA considers seventh and eighth graders recruitable prospects. — Justin Albers
@NoahWhyde writes: No chance at Blackmon?
I won’t say no chance, but it’s definitely a long shot. Less than 24 hours after James Blackmon Jr. announced his decision to reopen his recruitment, he had an offer from John Calipari and Kentucky. His father played there, and I think there’s a good chance he’ll end up in Lexington. Plus, it seems Indiana is moving on from Blackmon Jr., given their pitch to Brooklyn guard Isaiah Whitehead. — Justin Albers
@All_Hoosiers writes: What are #iubb’s realistic chances to land Whitehead? Any prediction on what the 2014 recruiting class will look like?
Even though they’re getting in late, the Hoosiers are a factor in Whitehead’s recruitment. He hadn’t ever heard from Indiana coach Tom Crean before getting a phone call on Friday, but the two talked for almost an hour and Whitehead has significant interest in the program. He plans to take an official visit to Bloomington next month. Whitehead is the type of kid that definitely noticed the Hoosiers put two players in the top four of June’s NBA Draft. Getting to the NBA is his No. 1 priority for selecting a college, so I think Indiana will be a major player with him.
Last year, Indiana got in the game late on highly-touted recruit Troy Williams and eventually got him to commit by making a strong impression on him.
It looks like Tom Crean and his staff may be doing that again.
Just over 24 hours after 2014 guard James Blackmon Jr. decommited from the Hoosiers, Indiana reached out to Brooklyn, N.Y. guard Isaiah Whitehead to take his place. Whitehead, ranked 35th in the 2014 class by ESPN.com, is just 10 spots lower than Blackmon Jr.
Whitehead attends Abraham Lincoln High School, the same school that produced NBA guards Stephon Marbury and Lance Stephenson.
Whitehead told Inside the Hall on Saturday that he hadn’t heard from Indiana until Friday night, but that it was an offer he would strongly consider. Whitehead’s conversation with Crean lasted nearly an hour, and Crean told Whitehead he knows he’s had a “big summer.”
“It means a lot,” Whitehead said. “Indiana is a legendary program with a great coach in Crean. You never can overlook them.
“They have no guard play coming in next year. That was Blackmon’s spot to play the guard spot.”
Whitehead said he plans to take an official visit to Indiana in September, along with UCLA, Syracuse, Arizona and Miami. Whitehead has not yet taken any official visits.
Whitehead hopes to finish his officials in September and October and then make his college decision in November. The early signing period begins on November 13.
“I have good interest in them,” Whitehead said of Indiana. “There’s really no top schools but I’m definitely considering them hard.”
Whitehead had a strong summer in various AAU events, and has gotten late interest from a number of schools. His assistant coach at Lincoln High, James Barrett, said getting in late won’t negatively effect Indiana.