USSFA High School Shootout: Day Two

CARMEL — Tournament play of the 2011 USSFA High School Shootout began Sunday morning at Carmel High School and by the end of the day, Lawrence North was the last team standing. The Wildcats, led by the stellar play of Eron Harris, finished the weekend undefeated.

Inside the Hall was in attendance and here’s a rundown of the prospects we caught on day two:

Trey Lyles, Indianapolis Arsenal Tech: Lyles continued his strong play as he helped lead Tech to the finals of the 1st place bracket, where the Titans fell to Lawrence North. Lyles scored 32 points and pulled in double digit rebounds in that contest. The 6-foot-8 forward knocked down jump shots from the perimeter, earned his way to the foul line and was efficient working out of the low post. Lyles was relentless on the glass and his hard work was rewarded with second chance points throughout the day. Sunday was another productive day for the youngest Indiana commitment, who has been busy for most of the spring with Spiece Indy Heat and adidas Nations.

Jeremy Hollowell, Lawrence Central: Hollowell was outstanding on Sunday as he scored 26 points in an 84-73 win over Bowman Academy and 28 points in a 64-57 loss to Tech in the tournament semi-final. He scored in nearly every way imaginable: jump shots from all over the floor, attacking the rim and finishing contested drives, earning second chance points on the offensive glass and scoring out of the low post on occasion. Hollowell was also effective as a distributor as he drew double teams and was able to teammates for open looks. Lawrence Central clearly missed 2012 point guard Tyler Corley, who was out of town at an Elite Camp, but Hollowell did his best to lead the Bearcats all weekend long.

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Recruitment status quo for five-star guard Harris

Despite a report that surfaced earlier this month at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, Hamilton Southeastern guard Gary Harris has not eliminated any schools from consideration in his recruitment.

“Those are the schools that are recruiting me the hardest right now,” Harris said at the USSFA High School Shootout at Warren Central on Saturday afternoon. “All of my options are still open.”

Those schools making the hardest push for the five-star guard are Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue, Louisville and Notre Dame.

But even as Harris prepares for the final July evaluation period of his prep career, a busy spring AAU and camp schedule have taken precedence over narrowing the focus of his recruiting picture.

“I’m not sure yet, I haven’t had time to figure things out,” he said. “I’m sure I’m going to get to some visits in the fall when I’m not as busy with all of this basketball stuff.”

All of the basketball stuff Harris is referring to is an AAU schedule with D3 Pride, the Indiana Junior All-Stars, the NBPA Top 100 Camp and this week, the Kevin Durant Skills Academy in Chicago. (Note: Harris was measured at 6-foot-6 with shoes, 198 pounds without shoes and with a wingspan of 6-foot-7 at the Durant camp.)

The Hamilton Southeastern senior-to-be said his participation in the LeBron James Skills Academy last summer in Akron was a learning experience that is now paying dividends.

“I have a lot more confidence going into everything,” Harris said. “Last year I had never done anything like that and I didn’t really know what to expect. Now since I’ve been through it I know what to expect and have a different mentality going into it.”

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Greg Graham praises Crean’s “guts” in hiring of Cheaney

Inside the Hall had the chance to catch up with former Hoosier and NBA guard Greg Graham, who is now a physical education teacher and the basketball coach at Warren Central, on Saturday at the USSFA High School Shootout.

The primary focus of our conversation was 2013 commitment Devin Davis Jr., but we did ask Graham about the recent hiring of his former Hoosier teammate, Calbert Cheaney, as Indiana’s director of basketball operations.

Here’s what Graham had to say:

What did you think about Calbert Cheaney going back to Indiana as director of basketball operations?

“I knew that was going to happen. It was just a matter of when. Cal’s been down there the last few seasons, golf outings and I know he has a great relationship with Crean. I think it’s good for Indiana basketball. This is something that’s been wanted for a long time. To finally have a coach to finally come in and have the guts to hire a Knight guy, that’s good. And I think that’s primarily where the separation with Hoosier nation is from. If you don’t have any former players down there who are involved with athletics, I mean, people around here grew up watching Knight and his players. I think you have to still keep that connection and that tradition going.”

Do you think that’s the biggest thing Crean has done, that the past two coaches didn’t do, is embrace the tradition?

“I think it is the number one thing. And people have been wanting that. Crean finally was brave enough and had enough confidence in himself to bring a player back. I mean, why not? He’s probably arguably the best player that the Big Ten has ever seen. I say that loosely, but he’s the all-time leading scorer (in the Big Ten). He’s a proven player, I think he can help with recruiting, I think he can help a lot of those guys develop their game.”

Four years of change

It’s a Friday night in October, damn near midnight, and we’ve finally arrived in Bloomington.

We’re staying way west of campus, because when you plan trips like this with old college friends at the last minute, options are limited.

A cab picks us up. We’re headed to Kilroy’s. Our driver tells us his family used to gather round the television for Saturday Indiana basketball games without fail during the Bob Knight era. But since The General’s been gone, he refuses to watch. Once a pillar of love, Indiana hoops has turned his heart hard.

I tell him to give Tom Crean and the new guys a chance. Tell him Crean values a lot of the same things Knight did: Academics, graduation rates, young men of character.

As we exit the cab, I don’t think I’ve changed his mind.

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Kilroy’s is different. Unrecognizable, even. The booths along its south wall have vanished for a stairway to a second floor. The famed birth canal — inconvenient as it was — is gone. There’s a patio out back now.

This is not what I remember. This is not how it was.

And maybe, just maybe, I can empathize with our cab driver.

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We’re walking across 17th from the tailgate fields — which are more tame these days — to Memorial Stadium. With its recent addition, the stands now wrap behind the north end zone. The sun shines off its glass.

It’s nice.

I see the newly-constructed Cook Hall in the parking lot to the east. Kids in my dorm at Briscoe used to park their cars there. Now, brand-new courts and whirlpools and weights and 24-hour access entry points reside, and the state’s finest high-school basketball talent comes for open gyms to get their first taste of the program.

It’s a strong first impression.

The five banners inside Assembly Hall, once the defining trait of the program, don’t matter as much to these kids born years after Keith Smart hit that baseline bucket.

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USSFA High School Shootout: Day One

The 2011 USSFA High School Shootout tipped off today at Carmel, North Central and Warren Central and Inside the Hall had a chance to catch a pair of Indiana commitments and several prospects with interest in the Hoosiers. Here’s a rundown of the prospects we caught on day one:

Jeremy Hollowell, Lawrence Central: Hollowell was impressive in both contests we caught which included 25 points in a 67-60 win over Brebeuf and 20 points in a 69-62 win over Indianapolis Scecina. In the morning win over Brebeuf, the 6-foot-7 Indiana commitment got to the foul line at will and knocked down a high percentage. Hollowell was also converting from the perimeter and when both parts of his game are working, he’s a nightmare to contain. Lawrence Central coach J.R. Shelt told us he continues to push Hollowell to play with the same amount of passion all of the time instead of just in spurts.

Gary Harris, Hamilton Southeastern: It was a solid, but not spectacular day for the five-star guard. Hamilton Southeastern will play Sunday’s games without Harris, who will participate in the Kevin Durant Skills Academy that begins tomorrow in Chicago. The Royals split the pair of games we caught which included a comfortable win over Perry Meridian and a 65-59 loss to Warren Central in the afternoon. Harris coasted to 14 points in limited minutes in the win over Perry Meridian and was simply too much to handle due to his athleticism. In the loss to Warren Central, Harris finished with a team-high 18 points, but struggled with consistency on his jump shot. Harris also clarified a report that surfaced at the NBPA Top 100 Camp that implied his list of schools had been cut to five. The list he gave was the five schools recruiting him the hardest, but he has not cut any from consideration.

Zak Irvin, Hamilton Southeastern: Like Harris, Irvin’s minutes were limited in the morning win over Perry Meridian, but the junior-to-be asserted himself more in the afternoon loss to Warren Central. Irvin finished with 15 points in that game and showed that he’s continuing to improve inside the 3-point line. His perimeter shooting is still his strongest attribute, but Irvin is becoming more reliable from mid-range and more assertive taking the ball to the basket. Despite rumors that a decision could be imminent, the 6-foot-6 junior-to-be told Kyle Neddenriep of The Indianapolis Star that he’s unlikely to make a commitment until after the July evaluation periods.

Devin Davis Jr., Warren Central: Did not play due to a high ankle sprain according to his coach, Greg Graham. Davis Jr. also had his wisdom teeth removed earlier this week.

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2013 Intro: Mark Williams

The Essentials: 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward for Cleveland Benedictine and TNBA Elite

The Schools: Indiana has offered and Akron, Central Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Virginia Tech have expressed interest.

The Leaders: Indiana, with the scholarship offer to Williams last fall at Hoosier Hysteria, is considered to be one of the Ohio native’s early favorites.

The Numbers: 13 points per game at Benedictine, which finished last season with a record of 12-11.

The Ranking: Rivals.com ranks Williams the 67th best prospect in the 2013 class.

The Quote: “The whole experience was great. The tradition speaks volumes. The fans were very involved and everybody loves basketball there. And that’s my love so that place and me, we get along well. The players are cool. It just was a great night. There was a lot of energy in that building.” — Williams to Inside the Hall after last fall’s Hoosier Hysteria.

The Scout Says: “Mark’s body has changed since his freshman year and he has become slimmer and taller. He has solid hands inside and is already a good rebounder and finisher in the paint. He has solid and improving skills. He can score in the low post and can step out to 17 feet and hit face up jumpers. Mark’s a great rebounder. He’s a solid defender in the paint. Solid athlete, good not great.” – ESPN.com on Williams.

The Video:

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Q & A: 2013 guard R.J. Curington

R.J. Curington spends the school year at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, but the class of 2013 guard is an Indiana native. Curington is originally from Dyer and spends his time in Northwest Indiana when he has breaks from school.

Inside the Hall caught up with the 6-foot-5, 190 pound guard for a Q & A on Wednesday evening:

How would you describe your game on the court?

“I’m a combo guard who can shoot, pass, dribble and defend. I think the area I need to improve is just my overall point guard skills. I need to get better with the ball in my hands as a point guard.”

What schools contacted you on June 15?

“Indiana, Purdue, Virginia, Wake Forest, Northwestern, Clemson, Stanford, Harvard, Miami, Illinois, North Carolina and Central Michigan.”

What do you think of Indiana and Tom Crean?

“I like Coach Crean a lot. We talk a lot. I like IU’s history and that they’ve had a lot of good players.”

What are your thoughts on the other home state school, Purdue?

“Coach Painter comes to a lot of our games and practices at Oak Hill. Purdue has good fans, a nice gym and it’s a good overall school.”

Have you visited Indiana?

“Yes. They want me to visit again, either sometime before July starts, or right after it ends.”

What are you looking for in a school?

“I’m looking for a school that can give me the most exposure, but also with great academics. I want a school with a great coach who cares about me and I feel comfortable with. I also want to play somewhere where I feel that I can win a National Championship at.”

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