LAS VEGAS — The summer of 2014 has been a bit of a whirlwind for class of 2015 L.C. Bird (Va.) guard and Indiana recruiting target Kenny Williams. Traveling across the country, Williams spent last week in Las Vegas as a participant in the LeBron James Skills Academy.
On Saturday morning, Inside the Hall sat down with the 6-foot-4 Williams to discuss his experience this summer and his overall recruitment. Our conversation with Williams is posted below:
What has the experience of being at the LeBron James Skills Academy been like, for you?
“It’s been great. All of the top competition in the country, and then you have LeBron playing with us a couple times, it’s always good to see how you match up against the top players in the class. You know you can’t take a day off, and you know how you stack up with them. And I think I stack up well with most two guards in the country.”
Was that something you expected coming in or was it something you learned through your experience?
“I really expected it just because I had confidence in myself. I know what I can do and I know I can stack up with the best in the country.”
What has your summer been like, for you? And when did you find out you would be heading out to Las Vegas?
“It’s been real busy, but I’ve just been learning as much as I can in the camps and using it outside of them. They gave me the invitation at the (Nike) point guard camp (from June 23-25). It was all really exciting.”
What has it meant to you to be at the LeBron James Skills Academy?
“This is my first time out in Vegas. It just means a lot to know that I’m getting some recognition as one of the top players in my class.”
With the end to your recruitment in sight going into your senior year, how often do you think about what your commitment will be like?
Welcome to offseason storylines, a look into some of the biggest storylines surrounding the 2014-2015 Indiana Hoosiers. Next up, a look at where Yogi Ferrell could improve as a junior in Bloomington. (Previously: A look at Indiana’s youth and how it got here, Is Troy Williams ready to make a leap?)
Before the book was definitively closed on the 2013-2014 season, Yogi Ferrell sat in front of his locker at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis following IU’s loss to Illinois in the Big Ten tournament and reflected on a year that had been, in a word, disappointing.
While many of his teammates didn’t offer much in terms of an explanation of what had just transpired over the last 32 games, Ferrell was speaking like a player who already knew he needed to do more.
“Maybe we just don’t know how to overcome adversity,” he said, bluntly. “Next year, we’ve got to hold guys more accountable, make some guys angry, get in some guys faces sometimes. I didn’t do that enough this year not knowing how they’d respond to it. Next year is going to be a different story.”
Ferrell’s offseason, of course, didn’t get off to a great start as he was arrested in late April during Little 500 week, but all has been quiet since then for IU’s junior point guard.
He’s no longer tweeting publicly and in early June at Huber Winery, Tom Crean outlined the shift he is hoping to see internally with his team as it enters the 2014-2015 season.
“Our guys last year spent too much time being buddies, than being absolute comrades,” Crean explained. “Comrades and even friends, they don’t let you make mistakes. It is not just what goes on, on the floor, it is what it is off the floor. Buddies are afraid sometimes of telling each other what needs to be done and we have to outgrow that and Yogi is a key component of that.”
LAS VEGAS — Caleb Swanigan is not satisfied.
Playing at the LeBron James Skills Academy this past week more than a thousand miles from his Fort Wayne home, the 6-foot-8 big man has measured himself against some of the elite players of the 2015 class.
And though he is rated the No. 17 prospect in the class he recently reclassified to (from 2016), Swanigan found himself not fulfilled during his final day in Las Vegas.
“I’ve got to keep working on what I’ve been working on,” he told Inside the Hall on Saturday. “It’s not at the level it needs to be. Like my athleticism and stuff, there’s still a lot of improvement. I’ve improved a lot, but it’s still not there.”
What Swanigan had, however, was hunger. Eager to get his looks of the top players not only in high school, but the college and professional ranks, too, he wanted to specifically learn what he could do to get better.
He was able to do just that.
LAS VEGAS — When class of 2015 La Lumiere guard Jalen Coleman heard late in the Nike EYBL season that he was invited to the LeBron James Skills Academy, the Indianapolis native couldn’t hold back his excitement.
Though he was rated as the No. 27 overall prospect in his class, according to the 247Sports Composite, he hadn’t yet experienced this summer playing with and against only the top talent in his class.
“You can test out everything you’ve been working on,” Coleman told Inside the Hall on Saturday. “As far as putting everything into it, this is where all of your working out, practicing and doing all that stuff shows.”
For the 6-foot-3 Coleman, he specifically wanted to use the Cashman Center stage as a proving ground.
With college coaches watching on, he wanted to prove to them — and himself — that he could hold his own as a true combo guard, especially while playing against elite competition.
“I’ve got a lot to show as far as being a point guard and a two,” Coleman said. “I’ve just been trying to show people I can play the one and be efficient, as well.”
And while he was satisfied with the way he played over the course of the camp, which ran from July 9-12, he admitted there were significant challenges that came with it.
Class of 2015 Brewster Academy (N.H.) guard Donovan Mitchell, who received a scholarship offer from Indiana in early June, will take an official visit to Bloomington this fall, according to NBCSports.com.
Mitchell, a native of Elmhurst, New York, has been hearing from the Hoosiers frequently in recent weeks.
According to the report by NBCSports, Mitchell will also take an official visit to Louisville. The 6-foot-3, 180 pound guard is rated the No. 91 prospect nationally in the 247Composite.
He’s also being recruited by Boston College, Cincinnati, Creighton, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Memphis and Providence, among others.
INDIANAPOLIS — If you watch class of 2017 North Central forward Kris Wilkes for just a few minutes, it’s not hard to figure out why he’s become an early recruiting priority for several schools, including Indiana.
Although he just completed his freshman season, Wilkes is a matchup nightmare on the wing at 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan. He can score from the perimeter with his jump shot, beat his man off the dribble and uses his size well in the paint to finish over smaller opponents.
And unlike some of his peers who are already physically developed, his game should continue to grow as he works to put on weight. It’s not just about basketball, either, for Wilkes. He’s a black belt in Taekwando and has a GPA well over 3.0.
As a freshman at North Central, he averaged 9.4 points per game and 3.3 rebounds per game as the Panthers finished 16-7 and fell to Carmel in the sectional. His role should expand as a sophomore as North Central lost leading scorer Eron Gordon, who transferred to Cathedral.
This summer, Wilkes, who is just 15, is a major piece on the Under Armour Indy Hoosiers 15-and-under group that also features Southport’s Paul Scruggs, Hamilton Southeastern’s Zach Gunn, Pike’s Justin Roberts and Gary Trent Jr., a Minnesota native.
In its first game of the July evaluation period at the adidas Invitational, the Indy Hoosiers attracted Indiana coach Tom Crean, who offered Wilkes a scholarship last summer.
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s approach to pursuing the top players in the state under Tom Crean has been unwavering.
In his six-plus years in Bloomington, Crean has made it a point to get in early with many of the state’s top prospects and in three of the last four years, he’s landed a McDonald’s All-American from Indiana.
The 2017 class is shaping up as another talented group and one of the standouts is Southport guard Paul Scruggs, who received an offer from the Hoosiers last July.
The 6-foot-3 Scruggs is playing in front of college coaches this month with the talented Under Armour Indy Hoosiers 15-and-under AAU team that also includes North Central’s Kris Wilkes, Hamilton Southeastern’s Zach Gunn, Pike’s Justin Roberts and Gary Trent Jr., who is from Minnesota.
Crean was in Indianapolis on Thursday night to watch their first game of July. On Friday, the group attracted assistant coaches from Louisville, Michigan State, Purdue and Xavier. A combination of factors, including fan support, the coaching staff and proximity to campus, has the Hoosiers in solid position early with Scruggs.