Indiana has “great understanding” of what its looking for on recruiting trail

  • 07/10/2013 11:22 am in

071013Even though the start of the season is months away, July is a critical month for college basketball.

Over three, four-day periods this month, the first of which begins later today, coaches will pound the pavement across the country to evaluate prospects. New names emerge. Old names can move up the priority list or fall off entirely.

And when it ends, coaches hope to have a clearer idea of which players will fit best with their program.

For Indiana, which is coming off 56 wins in two seasons, two top four picks in the 2013 NBA Draft and its first outright Big Ten title in 20 years, the understanding amongst the coaching staff for what it seeks is well established.

“What we’re searching for, what we’re looking for, even in this recruiting period, we have a great understanding of what we’re looking for,” assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Kenny Johnson said Tuesday at Cook Hall. “And if anything, maybe it puts more emphasis on why you really come to school — for your education, for your player development, and the family environment that’s not going to sustain for the next four years of your life, but the next forty years.”

With a strong culture that’s been built over five years, Indiana won’t make any sacrifices on the type of player it seeks to recruit. The program has signed three five-star players over the past three seasons, but just produced a three-star player who graduated in three years and went to Orlando with the No. 2 pick in Victor Oladipo.

The commitment and subsequent signing of Oladipo drew little fanfare at the time, but was one of the most important developments in IU’s recruiting under Tom Crean. Not only did Oladipo help establish the aforementioned culture, he also showed that IU can produce pros who don’t come in with McDonald’s All-American accolades.

“It’s not always going to be a “highly credentialed player,” that we’re always seeking,” Johnson said. “We’re seeking the best people that fit into what we’re trying to get accomplished here.”

Indiana already has a strong start to its 2014 class with the commitment of James Blackmon Jr., the No. 25 player in the country according to

Some of the other 2014 players expected to be tracked heavily this month include Goodluck Okonoboh, LeRon Black, Devin Robinson, Phil Booth and Ahmed Hill. While it’s easy to put a team together on paper, finding one that will actually mesh well and play together in a system is what yields results. Identifying prospects who can play multiple position and fill respective roles plays a big part in making that happen.

“We never have to go into it saying `we really need a point guard’ or `we really need a 2-guard’ or `we really need a small forward’ because we recruit versatile players,” Johnson said. “If you view what we have lost in the last two years, that can give you an idea of what we might be looking to replace.

“But it all starts with who is willing to mesh to fit that character and culture in the program. And then be willing to learn and be competitive because that’s what we have had in the past and what we have coming in. That’s what we are looking for – people that are willing to learn and can mesh with the group that we already have and are versatile.”

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  • Caleb Moore

    Follow KJ on Twitter if you arent already. He’s both hilarious at times and very insightful/motivating at other times. Cool guy.


  • SCHoosier

    I guess a “highly credentialed player” is what they use to call a four and/or five star recruit. Sounds a bit “snooty” to me..but I’ll take a handful of them for the Hoosiers:)

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    My expectations of Oladipo were very high from the onset. At that time Creek still had hope of a professional carrer and the two were tied together by the way of where they came from. I watched the backyard youtube videos of them and I expected VO to be another Mo Creek. I remember watching his first games and the tv guys all seemed surprised by him. Gus Johnson in particular. Oladipo was pretty raw as a freshman and most of my time when focused on him was screaming at the tv and telling him to take the layup instead of blowing an attempted highlight reel dunk. From the get go expectations (mine at least) were indeed very high for him.

  • Gregory Spera

    “It’s not always going to be a highly credentialed player…”
    “We never have to go into it saying ‘we really need’…”

    I’m sorry, I know CTC can work miracles with second tier recruits, but after the 2014 class disappointments so far, I think we “really need” “highly credentialed players” like Exum and Okonoboh. But that’s just me.

  • KevOMG

    I couldn’t be more proud of where the program has come from to where it is now. I didn’t expect much from Oladipo besides some flashy plays here and there. What they made him into (much of that being his hard work) is a testament to the knowledge these coaches bring with them to recruiting.

    They got Blackmon Jr. very early in the recruiting process and he’s soared up the rankings board. Makes me very excited to see what they can do with Luke Fisher from what we’ve heard of him being under recruited…

  • B-TOWNdawgs

    Im not extremely worried about the class of 2014 because I have faith in IU coaches and players to always make the best of every situation. Also, if you look at it by the numbers, we won’t have near the number of spots to fill after this upcoming season as schools like MSU, UNC and most likely pUKe due to their heavy recruitment of one-and-dones. I know that we only have 2 schollys remaining for the 14-15 season but I dont expect that to be a big problem- a transfer can always occur and if needed, a player might have to temporarily forfeit a scholly. We all just need to have faith in Coach Johnson and CTC

  • KevOMG

    I am always wary of calling Creek professional bound. He was an amazing player when he played, but I think it was the “Pritchard” effect. No one else around him was as talented, so at the time he looked much better than he was. When people started coming in that were better players, he saw little time. We can never know this for Creek because he became injured, but I think he would have leveled out. I definitely don’t mean he would have been a bench player, but I don’t think he would have the production to become a draft pick.

    This of course is all opinion based, but something I always thought about. I’m sure you and many others feel different, and that opinion is valid as well.


    Like you said many others feel different. Guess I’m in that category. I understand your thinking when it comes to his pre-injury play but have to respectfully disagree and also like you say, due his numerous injuries, we will never know who was right & who was wrong. When you are obviously the standout and top scoring threat by far on a team without many, or any, other real scoring threats, you get way more of the other team’s defensive focus than you normally would than if you had teammates that were also a threat to burn the other team for putting that kind of focus on one player. When that happens and you are still able to shine in numerous ways, like he did, it makes me believe that there would have been a decent amount of money waiting on him if not for the all of the injuries. Who knows who’s right and who’s wrong, but it does give us another thing to discuss in the off season I guess. lol

  • KevOMG


  • Outoftheloop

    There is nothing “disappointing” about he 2014 class so far. Pinson is a North Carolina kid who is going to UNC. The two Lyles probably do not “fit” the IU team structure and culture that well, and KY and Louisville are top programs. You are always going to lose a few. If we can get Exum and Okonoboh who can say that we did not get the better players? Three NBA recruits per year (those two plus Blackmon) is enough. Then you need some three-four year guys for continuity, chemistry, hunger and drive to become an NBA player like Vick and Will.

  • Outoftheloop

    Just the 5-Star players. The 4-Star guys still have a “chip” on their shoulder to prove the “experts” wrong!

  • Taz

    Could not disagree more.

    Think about where this program has come from in 5 short years (although it seemed like forever when we were getting our tails waxed). Crean and his staff have done an unbelievable job of getting IU back to being in the national picture – which is all one can really ask for.

    Would I have loved to have beaten Syracuse and played in the Final Four last year against UL? Hell yes!! I think Crean has some work to do against teams like Wisky / Butler / Syracuse . . . but one thing you cannot question is player development. Crean has proven not only that he can pick guys with high motor and character, but that he and his staff can motivate them to be their best.

    Bodes well for us in the future.I’d take a kid like Trevon Blueitt or the McIntsoh kid who just decommitted from ISU over prima donnas like Lyle / Lyles any day of the week.

  • Gregory Spera

    Wait a second. I did not question Crean’s player development. Just the opposite. I even used the word “miracles” to describe it. Some might actually consider that hyperbole.

  • Gregory Spera

    “If we can get Exum and Okonoboh who can say that we did not get the better players?”

    I agree with you… if we can get Exum and Okonoboh.

  • Outoftheloop

    We are on the same page. However, if both Pinson and J Lyle had picked IU we would have had no room for either Exum or Okonoboh. There are always risks and it is never easy in recruiting.

  • CreanFaithful

    *1 Scholly available (Blackmon filled one of the two). Doubtful about the “temporarily forfeit a scholly.” I’ve seen that idea tossed around on ITH frequently with the scholarship crunch. I can only think of a few examples of this happening ever (at any program). However, I agree that “things will work themselves out…”

  • calbert40

    Completely agree with this. We need the top tier players, and Blackmon qualifies. Adding Goodluck and/or Exum (looks like we may be in the driver’s seat with both) would make this a great class. But if we only get one of them, or neither, we need to step back and get those three star players who will be here for 3-4 years that will be foundational pieces.

    RE: the specific swings and misses in recruiting this year, Pinson and Lyle were two players I thought we would end up as the bridesmaid instead of the bride. Would have loved to have had both, but you can’t win them all.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    My remark was that AT THAT POINT IN TIME he had “hopes” of a professional career. That was more in reference to that time period and how his future seemed to be then before multiple catastrophic athletic injuries. That’s all. If he had a 3 year career filled with games the way he played against pUKe, then there is no question he would have had a shot at a professional career.

  • KevOMG

    Definitely understand that point. It was a small sample size of games he played on a weak Indiana team, so it will always be a speculation as to how he would have wound up. Solid viewpoint TRAH.

  • Ole Man

    I would have taken both Pinson and J Lyle in a heartbeat; and so would most of the other posters on this board.
    A slight disagreement with “outof” on this; but when we thought we were going to get Lyle for sure, everyone on here thought they fit our system.

  • Ole Man

    They’re kids, not “prima donnas”. Kids don’t always do what we “adults” want them to do. But be careful in labeling someone else simply because you’re disappointed that they didn’t behave as you might have desired.
    You’ll start to sound like a Kentucky or Duke fan!

  • Outoftheloop

    I didn’t, but I don’t post that often. But only as to J Lyle, not Pinson (whom I don’t know much about except as to his basketball ability). Lyle is a fine player and I have no reason to think that he is anything but a great kid. However, he seems to have the “mind-set” of a “one and done” kid, which is really contrary to the IU “way” (i.e. Cody). Even with NBA talent our recruits have to really buy in to the “get your degree in 2-3 years if possible” approach to make the sacrifices for the hard academic work that IU now expects. I never had the sense that a college degree was that important to J Lyle if he could be drafted into the NBA. And Louisville seems like a good fit in that regard. Coach Crean has a real “team and program” concept that he is putting in place.

  • Taz

    Just telling it like it is.

    Blame the adults involved more than the kids, though.

  • Taz

    You said this:

    “I’m sorry, I know CTC can work miracles with second tier recruits, but after the 2014 class disappointments so far, I think we “really need” “highly credentialed players” like Exum and Okonoboh.”

    Exactly WHY do you have to have “highly-credentialed” players if Crean can develop kids – as he has proven he can? Would you love to have an Exum or Okonoboh? Sure – but there’s a BIG difference over a WISH instead of a NEED.

    Give Tom Crean time with Blueitt or McIntosh, let either of those guys have the atmosphere of Cook Hall to develop in. I really think we’d be already without the “big names”. Again, would like to have them, but they are not a NECESSITY.

  • Ole Man

    Sorry, Taz…I’ll take the higher rated recruits any day. And I’m sure Tom Crean would say the same thing. Indiana is at the point where it can have almost any 3 or 4 star it wants. To stay on top and make it to the National Title, we need a couple of 5 stars to complement the rest of the team.

  • Taz

    So you would take a “higher rated” player even if that guy could become a cancer in the locker room?

    Albers made his comments about Lyle for a reason. If you’re out on the AAU circuit at all you’d know why.

  • Ole Man

    Higher rated recruits are not necessarily “cancers in the locker room.”

    Be careful making that pronouncement of anyone unless you are eyewitness, judge and jury.

    Lower ranked recruits can also be troublesome.

    Are you out on the AAU circuit? Get serious.

    We are not Butler. Let them have all the 3 and 4 stars they want. As I originally stated, we’ll get our share of those without any problem.
    And just because we don’t get a 5 star kid we wanted, that doesn’t suddenly make him a “cancer”.

    So yes; we need all the five stars we can get. I’m sure our coaching staff can deal with any “issues” they might bring with them.

  • Taz

    True, Higher-rated recruits are not necessarily cancers in a locker room.

    But I didn’t say ALL 5-star kids were cancers, did I? I specified Lyle – for a reason, based upon observations I (along with others, such as Justin Albers) have noticed.

    I posted this in another thread on Lyle:

    I’ve never wanted him.

    Is he a great talent? Yes – but he is exactly like Albers described. Example: Lyle was chosen for the Core 6 of the Indiana Junior All Stars. In the first game between them and the Kentucky Juniors, JaQuan put on one of the worst displays of petulance I’ve ever seen. He acted like he didn’t want to be there (as did Trey Lyles). By the end of the night Coach Chitty probably wished he wasn’t.

    In the final game against the Indiana Seniors at Tipton, Lyle was a no-show – he stayed at home to play in a summer league game. Never gave the All-Star coaches any advance notice. Guys like Sean Sellers or Zach McRoberts would have loved to have played in that game – but were denied the opportunity because of Lyle’s selfishness.

    I sincerely hope JaQuan gets the coaching at UL to mature as a person. He does indeed have talent. He has a lot of baggage to go”
    I stand by those comments.

  • Ole Man

    The kid acted like a 16 or 17 year old who’s been drooled over for a few years now. Not entirely his fault.
    But he’s just a kid. I’m sure that our coaching staff would have/could have worked that petulance out of him.
    I stand by what I said.
    I think we need the five stars. I think our staff can develop talent, which includes mental even more than physical. I think he’s just be a kid (thank God people didn’t turn on me for being a kid who was a handful at times).
    I think some of your post is because he’s going elsewhere.
    That’s just how it reads to me.

  • Taz

    I’ll agree it’s not entirely his fault. He doesn’t have the best foundation around him, unfortuantely.

    The petulance he displayed at the Jr All-Star game at Greenfield was the worst I’ve ever seen – ever. Long before that, thought, I’d seen all too often a kid with enormous talent who would bring it 1/2 the time – a high school basketball Randy Moss, if you will. For every great play there was at least an oppposite play of questionable effort / focus.

    Jaquan has great talent, no doubt. The game is about much more than talent, though – and much more than oneself. There are too many good players – really good ones – that should preclude IU feeling like it “has” to have anyone that is a “higher ranked” player.

    As I said before in my other post, I never wanted him at IU. I’ve seen too many things over the last 7 years of watching him and other kids that I’ve formed my opinion on. Had IU brought him in I would have hoped they could change him (and I hoope UofL does as well – he’s got great promise), but I won’t mourn him going elsewhere. With the kids IU is looking at, they’ll have plenty of solid options to build another contender with.

  • Ole Man

    Fair enough. I respect what you have to say.