Indiana coach Tom Crean and assistant coach Kenny Johnson traveled to visit 2013 recruit Troy Williams at Oak Hill Academy on Monday.
Williams, a 6-foot-6 forward from Hampton, Virgina, is the 30th-ranked player in his class according to ESPN.com.
The Hoosiers got in late on Williams, who had narrowed his list to Kentucky and North Carolina before re-opening his recruitment. Williams also has offers from Florida, Georgetown and Louisville, among others.
Crean and Johnson visited Williams’ uncle and AAU coach, Boo Williams, on Monday morning before traveling to see Troy at Oak Hill. Even though IU hasn’t been involved long, Boo Williams said the Hoosiers are a major factor.
“We’re pretty interested,” Boo Williams told Inside the Hall. “They’ve done a good job recruiting him. I think coach Crean’s got a good understanding about his game and how he plays. They’ve done a very good job.”
Boo Williams pointed to Crean’s ability to develop under-recruited players such as Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey as a reason Troy Williams may choose IU.
With the start of the fall semester underway and less than five weeks until the official start of practice, it’s time to begin looking ahead to the 2012-2013 season.
We continue our Big Ten preview with a look at the five freshmen, listed in no particular order, who could make the biggest impact next season.
Gary Harris, Michigan State, Guard — The frontcourt in East Lansing may regress following the departure of Draymond Green, but the backcourt will receive a significant boost with the arrival of Harris, the highest rated incoming Big Ten recruit according to the RSCI rankings. The Hamilton Southeastern product, who was named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball last spring, has the physique to compete right away against the Big Ten’s most physical guards. He’s also stepping into a position that was vacated following the graduation of Brandon Wood, which should allow for major minutes right away. Tom Izzo is historically tough on freshmen, but he showed little hesitation in using Branden Dawson in a major role last season and the same should be true with Harris.
Adam Woodbury, Iowa, Center — While the Hawkeyes have two valuable pieces up front in Melsahn Basabe and Aaron White, they don’t have a true center. Enter Woodbury, a 7-foot-1 Iowa native who chose Fran McCaffery’s rebuilding project over several major programs, including North Carolina. Woodbury has a solid repertoire of moves around the basket, including a left-handed baby hook that can be difficult to block. There will certainly be an adjustment period for Woodbury once Big Ten play begins, but Iowa’s weak non-conference schedule should give him plenty of confidence early.
Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, Forward — John Beilein loves to play undersized guys at the four and that’s exactly where Robinson could be slotted in this winter. Following his commitment to Michigan, Robinson went from a borderline top 100 guy to a consensus top 25 player over the course of two years. At 6-foot-6, he can play and guard multiple positions and will be one of the most athletic players in the conference right away. While he’s not a great outside shooter, his midrange game has improved and with Trey Burke seeking him out in halfcourt sets, Robinson should have plenty of opportunities to score. Like Harris at Michigan State, Robinson is entering a situation at Michigan where minutes will be available following the graduation of Zack Novak and the transfer of Evan Smotrycz to Maryland.
The grind of the recruiting process can be burdensome, but for Kennedy Meeks, a class of 2013 center from Charlotte, North Carolina, the opposite is true.
At 6-foot-9 and 297 pounds with soft hands and a reputation for being one of the nation’s best passing big men, Meeks is highly coveted. And it’s a position he’s having fun with as his final year of high school begins.
“I enjoy it. Some people don’t, but I do,” Meeks told Inside the Hall. “It just feels good to know that a school is really after you and really sees something in you and just really has a lot of interest. And it’s kind of cool that they give you a full ride. I like it.”
While he hasn’t trimmed his list of schools officially, Meeks is hosting five schools on in-home visits. Georgetown got the first crack on Sunday as the NCAA’s recruiting period got underway. North Carolina State will be in to visit with Meeks and his family today.
North Carolina, Kentucky and Indiana will follow next week. A sixth school, Ohio State, isn’t making an in-home visit, but ESPN.com’s No. 17 player nationally said the Buckeyes are recruiting him hard.
As for what he’s looking to get out of the visits, Meeks, who hopes to major in communications or sports broadcasting, said getting a better feel for each of the schools is important.
“I’m basically just looking for the right fit for me,” he said. “Not a school that just tells me what I want to hear, but one that tells me the truth about where I would stand in their program and how they feel I can help them as a player. Also, the education part of it, graduation rates and if I were to go to the NBA before graduation, if my grades would come back (later).”
Indiana began recruiting Meeks over the summer and tracked him at the Nike Global Challenge and the EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam, where he averaged 12.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.2 blocks in 26.7 minutes per game.
2013 Ottawa, Kansas forward Semi Ojeleye is off the board.
According to Fox Sports Next recruiting analyst Evan Daniels, Ojeleye gave a verbal pledge to Duke following an in-home visit on Sunday.
Ojeleye had recently trimmed his list of schools to Duke, Indiana, Oregon and Stanford, but had not set up any official visits.
Indiana began recruiting Ojeleye last spring, hosted him on an unofficial visit on June 27 and tracked him in the July evaluation period as he led MoKan Elite to the semifinals of the Nike Peach Jam.
The Hoosiers are still looking to add to their current four-man recruiting class for 2013, which includes Collin Hartman, Devin Davis, Luke Fischer and Stanford Robinson.
2013 forward Marcus Lee has scheduled an official visit for Hoosier Hysteria on October 20 and IU is scheduled to be at Oak Hill Academy on Monday for a visit with Troy Williams.
Kennedy Meeks, a 2013 center from Charlotte, is also expected to receive an in-home visit from the IU staff, according to Tar Heel Illustrated.
Indiana is also expected to have an in-home visit with BeeJay Anya, one of their top targets remaining in the class. Anya hosted Pittsburgh and DePaul on Sunday for visits.
Indiana coach Tom Crean touched on a variety of topics when he addressed the IU student body and the public during his annual lecture Thursday night at the IU Auditorium.
He discussed the importance of family and education, he reminisced about some of the key moments from last year’s improbable run to the Sweet 16, and he talked about his expectations for the upcoming season.
Here are some of the highlights from the evening:
1. Sheehey, Zeller improving
While Crean said all the Hoosier players have made strides in the offseason, he specifically pointed out junior Will Sheehey and sophomore Cody Zeller for their improvements.
“They’re neck-and-neck right now for most improved players on the team,” Crean said. “They’re the ones who have stretched their games the most.”
According to Crean, Sheehey, who averaged 8.6 points per game for IU last year and hit one of the biggest shots of the season against VCU, is in elite physical condition. Crean said Sheehey lasted an IU-record 14:06 during a VO2 treadmill test, and he has improved in the gym as well.
As for Zeller, already IU’s best player heading into the offseason, Crean said his big man led the way over the summer. Given that opponents usually begin their game planning with Zeller, Crean knew IU needed him to develop his game in other ways.
“We had to get to a point this offseason where, no matter what [the opponents] do in their office, that he can go above and beyond that,” Crean said. “He’s so secure in his fundamentals and so good at reading what’s going to happen that he takes his game to another level.”
Crean said the coaching staff is trying to get Zeller to be able to get from one end of the court to the other in two dribbles. Right now, it’s at three.
“Is he ever going to need that? He probably won’t,” Crean said. “But he needs that mindset.”
2. Freshman to start?
There has been much speculation about what IU’s starting lineup will look like when the season begins. With all five starters returning from the team that won two NCAA Tournament games and a recruiting class that includes Yogi Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell, there clearly won’t be enough starting spots for everybody.
While Crean didn’t give any sort of a possible lineup to begin the year, he did say that a freshman may start.
“We might have eight or nine starters,” Crean said. “I probably wouldn’t put it in a Sharpie pen just yet, but I might use a fountain pen that we’re probably going to start a freshman because that’s probably what’s going to happen. The battles are on right now.”
The college basketball preview magazines will begin hitting the newsstands shortly and Indiana is being touted as a national championship contender by both Athlon Sports and Lindy’s Sports.
As we mentioned Tuesday, the Hoosiers are No. 1 in the Athlon Sports preview, which will be available on Sept. 25.
The Lindy’s Sports college basketball preview, available on Sept. 11, will have Indiana at No. 2.
The top three teams in Athlon’s preview are Indiana, Louisville and Kentucky and the cover of Lindy’s Sports shows their top ten as follows:
4. N.C. State
6. Ohio State
9. St. Louis
The Athlon Sports magazine has a regional version with Cody Zeller (after the jump) on the cover and the Lindy’s Sports magazine, pictured below, has a regional cover with Christian Watford, Notre Dame’s Eric Atkins and Purdue’s Terone Johnson.