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adidas Invitational: Austin Etherington

2011 Hamilton Heights wing and IU commit Austin Etherington met with reporters following a 73-60 Indiana Elite win over Riverside Hawks on Wednesday morning at North Central High School. The 6-6 Etherington talked about his recent back injury, his relationship with Cody Zeller and Yogi Ferrell, his number one goal for the summer and several other topics. Watch and listen to his comments in the embedded media players below:

Part One:

Part Two:

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Indiana hires Je’Ney Jackson as strength and conditioning coach

Per IU Media Relations:

Je’Ney Jackson has joined the strength and conditioning staff at Indiana University and will be working with the nationally prominent Hoosier men’s basketball program.  He brings eight years of experience as a strength coach (including a stint as the men’s basketball strength coach for IU assistant Steve McClain at Wyoming) on the Division I level and five years as a position coach, most notably at Kansas.

We are excited to add someone with Je’Ney’s talent toughness and personality, said IU Coach Tom Crean.  “He comes highly recommended not only from Steve McClain who he worked with for five years, but from other prominent coaches that I respect.”

Jackson has been at Southern Mississippi since February after spending five years with the Kansas football program, including the last three years as cornerbacks coach. Prior to that,  Jackson was an assistant strength and conditioning coach at KU for two seasons and six years as strength and conditioning coach at Wyoming.

“I am thrilled to be able to work with Tom Crean and to have this opportunity at Indiana,” said Jackson.  “This is a program with great tradition and the new facilities makes this one of the elite jobs in all of college athletics.  I am looking forward to getting to know the players and helping them reach their maximum potential.”

At Kansas, Jackson mentored Aqib Talib, who earned consensus All-America honors and was a first-round NFL draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Chris Harris, who was tabbed a Freshman All-America Honorable Mention pick by The Sporting News.

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adidas Invitational: Yogi Ferrell, Jeremiah Davis, Cody Zeller

A trio of Indiana Elite teammates and IU recruiting targets — Yogi Ferrell, Jeremiah Davis and Cody Zeller — met with reporters following a 69-64 win over Dream Vision on Tuesday at the adidas Invitational at North Central. Watch and listen to what all three had to say in the embedded video players below:

Yogi Ferrell (2012)

Jeremiah Davis (2011)

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Adidas Invitational: Day One

(Photo by Ray Whitehouse of the The Herald Times.)

INDIANAPOLIS — The July evaluation kicked off Tuesday at North Central High School with a star studded cast of college coaches.

Among those spotted for a late morning matchup between Indiana Elite and Dream Vision were Tom Crean, Tony Bennett, Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Rick Pitino, Thad Matta, Sean Miller, John Beilein, Ben Howland, Bob Huggins, Jamie Dixon, Brad Stevens, Bruce Weber, Josh Pastner and Bill Self.

Indiana Elite, which features Cody Zeller, Jeremiah Davis, Marshall Plumlee, Austin Etherington and Yogi Ferrell, beat California-based Dream Vision, led by 2012 five-star guard Shabazz Muhammad, 69-64.

Zeller was brilliant early, scoring Elite’s first three buckets with a jump shot, a dunk and a right hook. The 6-9 Washington forward said afterward that he’ll continue to stay the course on his recruitment and added that North Carolina has not offered a scholarship.

Davis was solid, but not spectactular. The one question on Davis that still needs to be answered is whether he’ll play the point or off the ball at the next level. One glaring omission from the crowd was Michigan State, who was at one time believed to be the team to beat.

Ferrell continues to show why he’s one of the best playmakers available in the 2012 class. His ball handling is a huge strength, his court vision is excellent and he knocks down shots when given room.

Etherington struggled for most of the game, but came up with a key deflection late to help seal the victory.

Muhammad, who played in another high-profile matchup in the afternoon against the Dallas Mustangs and 2011 five-star forward Le’Bryan Nash, is a smooth lefty from Las Vegas that can fill it up.

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It’s time to hit the road recruiting

Tuesday, July 6 marks the beginning of the first 10-day evaluation period of the summer (the other is July 22-31), which means college coaches will be all over the country watching prospects and making their presence known in every way besides verbal communication.

This site has not yet reached the point where we’re able to travel from coast-to-coast to follow recruiting, but we will be out on Tuesday and Wednesday in Indianapolis to watch, interview and evaluate several prospects with Indiana interest. (We’ll also be at the Kentucky Hoopfest this coming weekend.)

As it currently stands, Indiana has one commitment for its 2011 class — Hamilton Heights guard Austin Etherington — and has not yet secured a commitment for 2012 or 2013. We’ve updated our 2011 recruiting board to reflect the newest rankings from Rivals and Scout and recently completed our first 2012 recruiting board.

Both can be accessed at the links below and also from the sidebar:

+ 2011 Indiana Basketball Recruiting Board

+ 2012 Indiana Basketball Recruiting Board

After July concludes, we’ll update both recruiting boards with any new prospects that emerge during the month. These lists of information should in no way be considered a complete snapshot of IU’s recruiting plans, but they’re definitely helpful in keeping track of a landscape that changes frequently.

The best way to keep up with us this week is to follow us on Twitter and keep checking back throughout the week for interviews, video and other pertinent updates.

An early look at the 2010-2011 frontcourt

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 11: Forward Christian Watford #2 of the Indiana Hoosiers drives with the ball against forward John Shurna #24 of the Northwestern Wildcats during the first round of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 11, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)So piggybacking off Alex’s good work yesterday in filling the summer malaise with some solid depth chart discussion as we hit July, let us open our textbooks to chapter two.

Last season’s frontcourt was something of a mixed bag, with young talents like Christian Watford and later Derek Elston emerging as legitimate scoring threats, while Tom Pritchard struggled most of the season with foul trouble and inconsistency.

So what to expect from this season’s edition of the Indiana frontcourt? There’s not much gone, although losing Tijan Jobe and Bawa Muniru does mean the subtraction of the Hoosiers’ two tallest players from a year ago. But the meat of IU’s depth chart down low returns, a year older, presumably a year stronger, perhaps a year better? Let’s take a look at a few important storylines.

+ Will Watford even be a post player next year? No, this isn’t more transfer speculation. (Quick note on that subject: Let’s be fair to Watford, who has said he wanted to stay — there hasn’t really been a whole lot of factual basis for the transfer rumors, mostly chat room speculation.) This is whether we’re going to see Watford operating in the post that often this season.

The player certainly has the skillset and the disposition to play on the wing as well, and being honest, that’s really his most natural position. It was a rough-and-tumble freshman year for Watford, who often found himself outsized down low, where he was asked to operate time and again. Still, it’s hard to sniff at a 12-and-6 points/rebounds average over nearly 30 minutes per game from a freshman. It was harsh, really, that he wasn’t at least an announced Big Ten Freshman of the Year candidate.

So where on the court is Watford’s future in an Indiana Hoosier? If it’s down low, then he’ll need to have spent this offseason bulking up significantly. If not, someone needs to step up for IU instead.

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An early look at the 2010-2011 backcourt

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 08:  Jeremiah Rivers #5 of the Indiana Hoosiers dribbles the ball against the Pitt Panthers during the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 8, 2009 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)It’s been a quiet couple of weeks from a news perspective, but that should change next week as the evaluation period begins Tuesday. I’ll be at the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis on Tuesday and Wednesday and will probably head to the Kentucky Hoopfest in Louisville at some point on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

It’ll be a great opportunity to watch, interview and capture video of top prospects from across the country and observe which players the IU staff are tracking the closest.

With that said, let’s dive into an early look at some of the storylines to keep an eye on with next season’s backcourt:

+ Maurice Creek’s health: This might be the No. 1 storyline leading into next season. Creek’s horrific injury probably cost the Hoosiers at least a couple more wins in 2009-2010 (if not more) and also kept one of the best young players in the Big Ten from playing  in a conference game. Creek’s progress towards 100 percent, based on his comments on Twitter and updates from Tom Crean, seems to be steady. A healthy Creek in 2010-2011 gives Indiana something it lacked when the going got tough late in games: A player you can rely on for a critical basket.

+ How much will Jeremiah Rivers contribute? Prior to last season, The Herald-Times referred to Rivers as Indiana’s unquestioned leader. As the season played out, this characterization spoke more to the state of IU’s program than Rivers’ ability to lead. Rivers showed flashes of brilliance, but was inconsistent and often unreliable from the foul line. As IU’s lone senior, Rivers will enter next season as more of a question mark than a known commodity. If he plays to his skill-level, the potential is there for Rivers to make a positive impact.

+ Verdell continues to grow: As a sophomore, Jones posted an impressive 16.7 ppg in 18 conference games. His shooting percentage wasn’t great overall at just a shade under 40 percent, but Creek’s return should free up Verdell for better looks as opponents will no longer be able to key on him. The keys to Jones blossoming into an All-Big Ten level player are continuing to put on weight and adding upper body strength that will allow him to finish plays at the basket instead of relying primarily on the pull-up jumper.

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