Indiana a leader, “if not ahead of everyone else,” for Pitchford

Several schools have begun ramping up their interest in Walter Pitchford, a 6-foot-9 power forward in the class of 2011, perhaps none moreso than Indiana.

“I would call Indiana a leader, along with the Memphises and Arizona States,” his head coach, Steve Ernst, told Inside the Hall. He said Washington, Minnesota and Illinois were also showing interest, but IU is among the leaders, “if not ahead of everyone else.”

Pitchford was committed to DePaul in the class of 2010, but asked out of his letter of intent when then-coach Jerry Wainwright was let go. He’s since reclassified to 2011, and his versatility has several schools interested.

Ernst described Pitchford, who is officially listed at 6-foot-9, 212 pounds on the Summit Christian Academy roster, as a forward capable of shooting with range or scoring in the low post.

“I don’t think you get a more athletic kid in America at his size, and a much, much better shooter than you would expect,” he said. “We just beat Detroit Pershing the other day, and Walter hit six straight jump shots.”

Ernst also said Pitchford is averaging six blocked shots a game for the East Lansing, Mich., based school.

An offer has not yet been extended, to the best of Ernst’s knowledge, by Indiana or anyone else. Since re-entering the recruiting process, he said Pitchford and his family have been patient, trying to better his academics while they have the opportunity and listen to what several schools have to say.

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Crean watches Bosse freshman Jaquan Lyle

Tom Crean is continuing his push to add to Indiana’s already stellar 2014 class and on Tuesday night, the third-year IU coach made an appearance at Evansville Memorial to watch Bosse freshman Jaquan Lyle.

The 6-4, 185-pound Lyle, who picked up an offer from the Hoosiers earlier this fall, scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half in a 74-65 road win. He also had 10 rebounds and four assists.

Also in attendance to see Lyle: Illinois head coach Bruce Weber and Purdue assistant Paul Lusk.

Here’s a rundown of Lyle’s numbers in Bosse’s first two games:

+ Twenty points and 10 rebounds in a 62-55 loss to Jeffersonville on Nov. 27.

+ Nineteen points in a 76-72 upset of Princeton on Dec. 10.

Bosse (2-1) will host Cody Zeller and the Washington Hatchets on Friday night.

Inside the Hall Tuesday night live chat

Join us, friends:

Inside the Hall Twitter Mailbag: December 14

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 11: Christian Watford  of the Indiana Hoosiers is pictured during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats on December 11, 2010 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)The Inside the Hall Twitter mailbag is a weekly collection of questions tweeted to us via our Twitter account, @insidethehall.

Tweet us your questions each week and we’ll answer as many as we can. Now, onward …

@ni3t writes: What do you think more caused the loss Saturday? The uneven officiating down the stretch or just a lapse in concentration?

Ryan Corazza: While the free throws were lopsided, remember that Indiana has shown a propensity for fouling the opposition at a high rate all season. Through Monday, the Hoosiers sport a defensive free-throw rate of 50.4 percent, which ranks them 313th in the nation.

So I’d have to go with a lapse in concentration. Indiana slumped through a nine-minute scoring drought — which I believe was its longest drought of the season — due to poor shot selection. When everything began to speed up, the Hoosiers failed to slow things down, run the offense and work to get the good looks they were getting for most of the game prior to the drought.

Yes, Indiana hurt itself by putting Kentucky on the line so many times. But if it’s not scoring itself, there’s no way it can win.

@JayHorrey writes: What are realistic expectations for this team in their two games in Vegas?

Alex Bozich: IU should be slightly favored against a Northern Iowa team that is in rebuilding mode after knocking off Kansas in the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament. UNI has dropped three road games — Syracuse by 22, Wisconsin-Milwaukee by 2 and Iowa by 12. If the Hoosiers are to push toward the .500 plateau, this is a game they need to win.

Colorado or New Mexico will be the second opponent and both are beatable. Colorado lost early to an awful San Francisco team and New Mexico’s only loss was by 25 at California, a likely sub .500 team. Anything less than one win will be considered a disappointment.

@jcarr22 writes: What happened to Pritch, and is there a reason to keep hope alive?

Zach Osterman: Let’s address each question separately. If you’re asking what happened to Tom Pritchard’s offensive game, there are a few answers. First, his early production was a byproduct of a lot of attention offensively, and a lack of other options. As defenses learned to key in on him during his freshman season, he slowed, and eventually tired. It stands to reason that, given that he was always a project to begin with, he would split minutes once there were similarly able bodies behind him, which explains the drop in playing time. The offensive struggles last year appeared attached to at least some lack of confidence, as well as the fact that frankly, he wasn’t good enough then.

Is there reason to keep hope alive? That’s a hard question to answer, because it depends on what you mean by “hope”? Is Tom Pritchard a double-double player? Probably not. Is he Indiana’s best post defender, right now and probably next year as well? Absolutely. His footwork far exceeds that of Bobby Capobianco and Derek Elston, and many of his fouls this year — or at least a much larger portion of them than in past seasons — have actually been smart fouls, fouls committed to cover for teammates who lost a defensive mark, and the like. He’s also actually developed a pretty damn nice shot-blocking habit (like, almost three times as many blocked shots per game compared to last year, despite playing less minutes overall). So yea, there’s plenty of hope for Tom Pritchard. And some results to back it up.

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2011 guard Kelvin Amayo claims offer from Indiana

Update: According to Hugh Kellenberger of The Herald-Times, Amayo has not been offered a scholarship by Indiana. A source close to the situation also confirmed Hugh’s report with Inside the Hall. Adam Finkelstein at ESPN.com had also reported the Amayo offer on Dec. 10.

Kelvin Amayo, a 6-4, 200-pound guard who plays at NIA Prep in Newark, N.J., is a relatively new name to surface on Indiana’s recruiting radar.

The 2011 guard, who has played at three different high schools — Hillside, St. Benedict’s and now NIA Prep — told Inside the Hall on Monday night that the Hoosiers have started to recruit him over the last two months.

“Coach (Tim) Buckley says they have a high interest in my style of play,” Amayo said, adding that IU has offered him a scholarship.

That style of play, based on Amayo’s own scouting report, is predicated upon attacking off the dribble.

“I’m a fast, up-tempo player,” he said. “I like fast breaks. I can play in a half-court set or a fast break. I can shoot, go to the rim, I can do a lot of things. I can go to the rim mostly at will.”

Amayo reeled off a list of high-major schools that are in regular contact, including Auburn, Boston College, Connecticut, Iowa State, Mississippi, Rutgers and UNLV. He’s not nationally ranked by either Rivals or Scout, but said that he’s not necessarily a late-bloomer.

“I don’t know (if I’m a late-bloomer), but definitely, I still have to show my talents because all the scouts don’t have me ranked,” Amayo said. “But after high school, the rankings are going to be out the window.”

The next step in the process for Hillside, N.J., native will be narrowing down his list of schools in February while also mixing in some visits. The Hoosiers appear to be in line for one of those trips.

“I think Indiana will be one of the schools I take a visit to,” he said.

Check out a couple of YouTube videos of Amayo after the jump.

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Big Ten Conference unveils new logo

… And in doing so, also sent out a lengthy press release that detailed the new football divisions and the following on the new look for the conference logo:

The new Big Ten logo was developed by Michael Bierut and Michael Gericke of the international design firm Pentagram.

“The new Big Ten logo was developed to symbolize the conference’s future, as well as its rich heritage, strong tradition of competition, academic leadership, and passionate alumni,” said Gericke. “Its contemporary collegiate lettering includes an embedded numeral ‘10’ in the word ‘BIG,’ which allows fans to see ‘BIG’ and ‘10’ in a single word. Memorable and distinctive, the new logo evolved from the previous logo’s use of negative space and is built on the conference’s iconic name, without reference to the number of member institutions.”

The new logo also provides the flexibility of multiple versions which can be used horizontally, vertically and within new media.

“The new Big Ten logo provides a contemporary identifying mark unifying 12 outstanding institutions,” said Delany. “It conveys some elements from the past while simultaneously introducing new features. We think the new logo is fun and has something for everyone.”

Not a big fan of the new look, but who knows, maybe it’ll grow on me. Thoughts, anyone?

I’m not going to dig into the naming for the football divisions, but our friend Pat Forde of ESPN.com summed it up best on Twitter:

Big Ten went with the “Legends” and “Leaders” division names. Which is about as corporately lame as it gets.

Late heroics from Harris lift Hamilton Southeastern

(Photo credit: Jamie Owens/J. Scott Photography)

Throughout the season, Inside the Hall will keep you posted on how 2011 signees Austin Etherington and Cody Zeller, IU’s seven verbal commitments and other notable prospects with interest in the Hoosiers, are performing at their respective schools.

You can send us stats or results for this report at insidethehall@gmail.com. Here’s our latest update:

2011 SIGNEES

+ Austin Etherington (Hamilton Heights): Thirteen points in a 69-46 win over Lewis Cass on Dec. 10 and 18 points in a 78-58 rout of Tri-Central on Dec. 11.

+ Cody Zeller (Washington): Eighteen points and 17 rebounds in a 61-36 win over Edgewood on Dec. 10. Washington lost for the second time this season on Dec. 11 at Forest Park, 70-65. Zeller finished with 29 points and eight rebounds.

2011 CLASS

+ Kelvin Amayo (NIA Prep): Averaging 19.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game for the Newark, N.J. based NIA Prep.

+ Michael Chandler (Lawrence North): Twenty-four points and 12 rebounds as Lawrence North fell to Scott County (KY) 92-78 in Lexington on Dec. 11.

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