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Kentucky Hoopfest: Day One

The Kentucky Hoopfest kicked off Thursday in Louisville and Inside the Hall attended the evening session at Hoops and Basketball Academy.

+ Among the coaches in attendance: Tom Crean and Tim Buckley; Michigan State’s Tom Izzo; Butler’s Brad Stevens; Xavier’s Chris Mack and assistants from Ohio State, Tennessee, Iowa, Wisconsin and Purdue.

+ At Hoops, the Spiece Indy Stars crushed Indiana Swish Orange. This Spiece group was coming off a tournament win at the Hoosier Shootout and Broad Ripple’s Ron Patterson, Lawrence Central’s Jeremy Hollowell (pictured), Southport’s Kellon Thomas and Avon’s Austin Burgett were all impressive. You’d be hard pressed to find a stronger group of 15-year olds.

Hollowell confirmed that Indiana is ready to make an offer, but it won’t be official until his mother gets a chance to be there for the occasion. Iowa and Cincinnati have offered. Hollowell is 6-5 (and still growing) and said he enjoyed his time last month at the Indiana Elite Camp.

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Crawford dunk is the talk of the Interwebs

(You can listen to Crawford talk about the dunk here.)

The last time most Indiana University fans thought about Jordan Crawford was probably June 11, 2008. That was the day when Crawford announced he would not return to Bloomington for his sophomore season. Some of you probably cried when you realized that Kyle Taber was the last man standing.

Crawford decided a month later that he would transfer to Xavier and with Sean Miller’s departure for Arizona, he’ll suit up next year for first year coach Chris Mack.

When I think back about Crawford’s season at IU, two things immediately come to mind: 1) He was an incredibly talented and gifted player with a boatload of potential; and 2) He was often erratic and downright frustrating to watch. Some of you even referred to him as “TUO” or “The Undisciplined One.”

Based on point No. 1, it really didn’t surprise me that Crawford reportedly posterized LeBron James the other day in Akron. What did surprise me is the amount of coverage this dunk, which we will probably never see, is garnering across the Web. Here’s a healthy sampling:

+ Ryan writes at MOUTHPIECE blog that LeBron needs to lighten up. {MOUTHPIECE blog}

+ Chris Chase writes that by censoring the video, LeBron just made Crawford’s dunk into a legend. {The Dagger @ Yahoo!}

+ LeBron gets dunked on; none of us are witnesses. {Deadspin}

+ Nike doesn’t want you to know about Jordan Crawford, but Marquis Teague describes the dunk. {The Hoosier Scoop}

Around the Hall: Irving, Teague, Jordan Crawford and Ferguson

Around the Hall is recommended reading from the Inside the Hall crew.

+ Kyrie Irving backs off of comments that Indiana is his leader and says the Hoosiers are the “same as every other school.” {The Hoosier Scoop}

+ Irving tells Scout.com recruiting analyst Dave Telep that Indiana has made it clear that he’s their guy and that the Hoosiers are “all in.” {Scout.com, subscription required}

+ Former IU guard Jordan Crawford was the talk of the LeBron James Skills Academy after he dunked on the Cavs star — and then Nike confiscated the evidence. {CBS Sports}

+ Herald-Times sports editor Chris Korman writes that Crawford is no longer the happy-go-lucky kid that he was during his days in Bloomington. {Herald-Times, subscription required}

+ Indianapolis Pike point guard Marquis Teague is down to five schools: IU, Louisville, Ohio State, Purdue and Wake Forest. {The Hoosier Scoop}

+ Teague’s father, Shawn, tells the Indianapolis Star that Kentucky has offered and that his son hasn’t knocked any schools off of his list. {Indianapolis Star}

+ Lawrence North forward Dominique Ferguson refuses to say if he will return Jack Keefer’s program next season. {The Hoosier Scoop}

+ Jody Demling recaps day two of the adidas It Takes 5ive Classic. {C-J recruiting blog}

Audio: Austin Etherington at adidas It Takes 5ive

2011 wing Austin Etherington, the No. 57 player nationally in his class according to Scout.com, talked to a group of reporters Monday morning at the adidas It Takes 5ive Classic.

Etherington, who was offered a scholarship just a few days after Indiana’s Elite Camp last month, holds five offers and is playing this spring for the 16U Indiana Elite Team Indiana. That team also features Xavier commit Darwin Davis, Muncie Central’s Jeremiah Davis, former Kentucky commit Vinny Zollo, Deng Leek and 7-footer Cheir Ajou.

You can listen to what the Hamilton Heights junior-to-be had to say in the embedded audio player below:

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It Takes 5ive opens July evaluation period

A who’s-who of college coaches arrived in Cincinnati Monday for the opening of the July evaluation period at the adidas It Takes 5ive Classic.

Among the coaches spotted: Tom Crean and assistants Tim Buckley and Bennie Seltzer; Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Walter McCarty and Steve Masiello; UCLA’s Ben Howland; Kentucky’s John Calipari; North Carolina’s Roy Williams; Ohio State’s Thad Matta; Minnesota’s Tubby Smith; Michigan’s John Beilein; Arizona’s Sean Miller; Memphis’s Josh Pastner; Notre Dame’s Mike Brey; Michigan State’s Tom Izzo; Maryland’s Gary Williams; West Virginia’s Bob Huggins and Georgetown’s John Thompson III.

Inside the Hall spent the day bouncing back and forth between the Fifth Third Center and the Campus Recreation Center and here are our observations:

+ The jury is still out on David Williams: The 6-7 lefty (pictured), IU’s lone commitment from the 2010 class, started the day slow as he failed to score in the Atlanta Celtics opening contest. Williams told us he wasn’t happy with his play in that game and looked much better in the afternoon in a 10-point effort. Offensively, Williams has a long way to go to become a scorer at the Big Ten level. He often looked out of rhythm offensively and needs to become more assertive. In July, the best players tend to stand out and make a name for themselves. Today, we simply didn’t see that from Williams.

+ Strong performances from Indiana Elite’s Matt Carlino, Cody Zeller and Marshall Plumlee: Carlino looked much more comfortable than he was in May and looked like a player that can make an impact at the next level. His court vision and ball handling were both excellent.

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July evaluation period set to kick off on Monday

The July evaluation period kicks off Monday for college coaches and their assistants. And with coaches being unable to attend AAU tournaments in the month of April, July’s evaluation period has even more importance in 2009.

In no particular order, here are the storylines we’ll be tracking this month:

+ Is David Williams a high major talent? Before he committed to Indiana in late April, Williams was relatively unknown nationally. He is not among the top 100 prospects in the 2010 class on either Scout.com or Rivals.com and many wonder if offering a scholarship to Williams was a stretch for the IU staff. Playing on a stacked roster for the Atlanta “J-Smoove” Celtics that includes N.C. State commit Ryan Harrow, Tennessee commit Jordan McRae and former Ohio State commit Trae Golden, Williams is often overshadowed and perhaps under appreciated by scouts. We’ll get our first look at the Jacksonville native on Monday.

+ Can Indiana secure an official visit from Kyrie Irving? The Hoosiers appear to be in a favorable position for their top 2010 target after he said Indiana was at the top of his list in early June. However, Irving has established himself as one of the top players nationally in his class and Duke, Virginia, Kentucky and Notre Dame are all believed to be making a strong push. He will participate in the LeBron James Skills Academy this week and IU coaches will be able to watch him on Wednesday and Thursday.

+ Will Matt Carlino return to form after a tough April and May? After being slowed by injuries this spring, Carlino hopes to get his shooting stroke back and display the talents that led to an IU offer last summer. With his recent move to Bloomington, he should be more familiar with his Indiana Elite teammates. Look for IU’s lone 2011 commitment to have an impressive summer while playing both guard spots.

+ Is Indiana a major factor for Marquis Teague? Publicly, the stance from the Indianapolis Pike point guard is that he loves Indiana and Tom Crean. At the same time, Louisville has been recognized as the team to beat since last winter. There’s no doubt IU has been able to make up considerable ground in his recruitment. But can Crean sell Teague that he’ll be able to compete for a national title his freshman season?

+ Who is the best player from Indiana in the 2012 class? The 2012 class is loaded with talent and IU is actively recruiting four of the top players: Bowman Academy’s Dejuan Marrero, Broad Ripple’s Ron Patterson, Lawrence Central’s Jeremy Hollowell and North Central’s D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. To this point, Smith-Rivera has garnered the most national publicity, but Hollowell’s length, Patterson’s versatility and Marrero’s athleticism are all things to keep an eye on.

On Monday, July 6 we’ll be at the adidas It Takes Five Classic in Cincinnati and on July 10, 11 and 12 we’ll be at the Kentucky Hoopfest in Louisville. Follow us on Twitter to receive updates throughout the day from both events.

Hoosiers will face Pittsburgh in Jimmy V Classic

As speculated a couple of weeks ago, Indiana will face Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden in December. The game will be part of a doubleheader in the Jimmy V Classic. Here’s the official release from IU:

The Indiana University men’s basketball team will face Pittsburgh in the second game of the 2009 Jimmy V Classic scheduled for 9 p.m., Tuesday December 8 in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Butler will face Georgetown in the opening contest at 7 p.m., with both games set to air on ESPN.  This is the 15th Annual Classic, with Indiana making its second appearance in the event (1999).

“My wife and I are contributors to the V Foundation and it is an honor for us to participate in the Jimmy V Classic,” said IU Head Coach Tom Crean.  “This is annually one of the premiere events in college basketball and it is always exciting to take a team to Madison Square Garden.  We have great respect for the Pittsburgh program.”

The two early-season college basketball events showcasing top programs on ESPN and ESPN2 will conclude the third annual Jimmy V Week, a week-long initiative across multiple ESPN platforms and programs featuring special content to help raise funds for cancer research December 2-8.

Maybe I’m a bit optimistic, but I’ve got a good feeling this could be a win for our Hoosiers. The top three players for Pitt, Dejuan Blair, Sam Young and Levance Fields, are gone. And IU will no longer have to rely on Daniel Moore or Michael Santa to run the point. Is it time for Hoosier Hysteria yet? Hey, it was worth a shot.

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