With the two April evaluation periods behind us, it’s time to introduce our 2017 Indiana basketball recruiting board.
Included are 12 rising juniors to watch with several other prospects to keep an eye on. We expect that the list will continue to grow as the spring moves along and the July evaluation periods arrive. We will update the board periodically as prospects set visits, trim lists and make decisions in their recruitments. (Note: The board should not be considered a complete list of prospects being recruited.)
The full 2015-2016 Indiana basketball schedule won’t be released until later this summer when the Big Ten finalizes the conference slate, but a good chunk of dates and opponents for the upcoming season have already been revealed.
Here’s an early look at what we know so far about the 2015-2016 schedule:
· Year five of the Crossroads Classic: The Hoosiers are 2-2 over the first four years of the Crossroads Classic and this event is here to stay as it was extended through 2019 last August. IU’s opponent in this year’s Classic will be Notre Dame on Dec. 19 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Irish are ranked in the top 15 in several early rankings for next season.
· A solid field in Maui: Indiana is one of eight teams in the 2015 Maui Invitational, joining Chaminade, Kansas, St. John’s, UCLA, UNLV, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest. The bracket won’t be announced until later this summer, but the Jayhawks appear to be a preseason top 10 team and UCLA, UNLV and Vanderbilt all appear to be potential NCAA tournament teams next season. This event will be a solid measuring stick early for the Hoosiers and also an opportunity to pick up some top 100 RPI wins in the non-conference.
· Creighton comes to Assembly Hall: The first Gavitt Tipoff Games, which some are calling the Big Ten/Big East challenge, is a bit underwhelming from a matchup perspective. The Hoosiers drew Creighton at Assembly Hall and the Bluejays are coming off of a poor 14-19 campaign. Still, it’s a win for fans to get a major conference opponent coming to Bloomington on Nov. 19.
It’s been more than two weeks since our early look at who’s coming and going in the Big Ten and there’s been no shortage of news in that span around the Big Ten including a major de-commitment, NBA draft decisions and a few new commitments.
Here’s our updated look at who’s coming and going in the Big Ten for the 2015-2016 season.
Illinois (19-14, 7th place tie, NIT first round)
· Arriving: Aaron Jordan, Darius Paul, D.J. Williams (247Composite top 100), Jalen Coleman (247Composite top 100), Mike Thorne (Graduate transfer from Charlotte)
· Departing: Aaron Cosby (transfer), Ahmad Starks (graduation), Austin Colbert (transfer), Nnanna Egwu (graduation), Rayvonte Rice (graduation)
Notes: There haven’t been any changes in recent weeks for the Illini, who have the No. 18 recruiting class in the country according to Scout.com.
Indiana (20-14, NCAA tournament round of 64)
· Arriving: Juwan Morgan, O.G. Anunoby, Thomas Bryant (247Composite top 100)
· Departing: Jeremiah April (transfer), Max Hoetzel (transfer), Stanford Robinson (transfer)
Notes: Indiana received a major boost in late April as Yogi Ferrell announced that he will return for his senior season. That was followed by news that Jeremiah April will transfer, which puts the Hoosiers at 13 scholarship players for next season.
With the two April evaluation periods behind us, it’s time for the overdue launch of our 2016 Indiana basketball recruiting board.
Included are 17 rising seniors to watch with several other prospects to keep an eye on. The board will be updated throughout the spring and summer as prospects set visits, trim lists and make decisions in their recruitments. (Note: The board should not be considered a complete list of prospects being recruited.)
The transformation Troy Williams made between his freshman and sophomore seasons at Indiana was significant.
The 6-foot-7 forward went from a player Big Ten defenses were often able to take away as a freshman to one that carried the Hoosiers at times as a sophomore because of his ability to impact the game in a variety of ways.
Williams improved his efficiency offensively, cut his turnover percentage by more than five percent, led Indiana in rebounding and showcased a much more polished stroke from the foul line and occasionally from behind the 3-point arc.
When Williams played well last season, so did the Hoosiers in most cases. In Indiana’s nine Big Ten wins, he averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds in 29.3 minutes per game.
His improvement from his freshman to sophomore seasons gave Williams the opportunity to explore his NBA draft options at the end of this past season, but he chose to return to Bloomington to continue to grow his game. He is also on schedule to earn his degree next summer.
With its top eight scorers returning and the arrival of a three-man recruiting class featuring McDonald’s All-American Thomas Bryant, there’s great optimism surrounding IU basketball as the Hoosiers prepare for the 2015-2016 season.
But as Williams sees it, the approach won’t change much this offseason from last even with greater expectations present.
The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall), via email, submitted on our premium forum and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.
Anthony Baird on Facebook writes: Will (Thomas) Bryant really be that big of an improvement? Crean has proven he can’t get it done with bigs. I mean look what he did to Cody Zeller. I’m looking more forward to the return of Devin Davis!
Yes, Thomas Bryant will be a major improvement and a major factor from the minute he steps onto Branch McCracken Court. He’s a high energy guy who is coachable and makes hustle plays. He chose Indiana for a variety of reasons, one of which I’ll get into now as I tackle your second comment regarding Zeller. That reason is player development.
If “not getting it done with bigs” is putting a guy into the lottery for two straight years, I’m not sure what else you’d like to see. Zeller came to Indiana ranked just outside of the top 10 nationally in his recruiting class and went No. 4 overall in the NBA draft and was an All-American. When he left campus, he was a much better player than he was when he arrived. Those are all facts. You can certainly argue that IU should have advanced further than the Sweet 16 back in 2013, but that is a separate discussion. In terms of making guys better that put in the effort and helping them reach their potential, it’s hard to dispute what Crean has been able to accomplish. – Alex Bozich
mcoghlan on the premium forum writes: Assuming there are no more departures or additions in the Big Ten, where do you think IU will end up in the Big Ten standings?
Associate head coach Tim Buckley, along with assistant coach Chuck Martin and director of basketball operations Rob Judson, took questions from the media on Monday afternoon at Assembly Hall and discussed a variety of topics.
We’ve compiled some notes and quotes from that media sessions which are available below:
· Martin, who was essential in the Thomas Bryant recruitment, was asked about the impact he expects the McDonald’s All-American to make on the program next season.
“I just think he’s a kid that fits the culture here at IU. He’s a great teammate,” Martin explained. “All about the hustle plays, committed teammate. Obviously his size plays a major role in how he can impact the program, but more importantly, I just think who he is as a person is the most significant thing. His energy, his thought process, being a part of a locker room. I think those things really help.”
· Buckley also discussed Bryant at length and compared his personality to that of Victor Oladipo, but said that he’s not as flamboyant. He mentioned Bryant’s personality and discussed how it might help IU defensively and also made it a point that Yogi Ferrell needs to hold his teammates more accountable on that end as a senior.