Recruiting notebook: Mutual interest between Indiana, Matt Cimino

  • 01/29/2014 8:35 am in

Only ten days ago at Jan. 19’s Hoophall Classic, 6-foot-10 Worcester (Mass.) Academy senior Matt Cimino raised eyebrows with a 22-point, 8-rebound performance for his school in a loss to Cushing Academy.

One of those coaches that was made aware of his performance? Indiana’s Kenny Johnson.

Cimino spoke to Inside the Hall on Saturday and told ITH he and Johnson have maintained contact since Hoophall, and that he has plenty of interest in the Hoosiers at the moment.

“I have some pretty serious interest in them,” Cimino said. “They’ve been showing me some love the past couple weeks, telling me they need a big man. They don’t know if Noah (Vonleh) stays and they just had a transfer so they’re kind of running thin on big men. ”

At 6-foot-10, Cimino could certainly help fill that void. A self-described versatile player, Cimino said he feels comfortable playing both inside and outside, as well as defending either the four or the five.

The 247Sports Composite ranks Cimino as the No. 143 prospect and No. 34 power forward in the 2014 class, and he has previous offers from Boston College, Virginia and Kansas State.

Since the Hoophall Classic, though, George Washington has offered, and Cimino said he has the best relationship with the Colonials’ staff at the moment. He plans on taking one of his official visits there but doesn’t know when. Vanderbilt, Rhode Island, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech are recruiting him hard, as well.

As far as his relationship with Indiana is concerned, though, it’s still a budding one. Cimino said Johnson planned on visiting him last Friday, however Cimino injured his ankle in the loss to Cushing and was not participating in practice. He said Johnson might visit him either this week or next week.

And although he still has a ways to go in his recruitment, Cimino knows exactly what he wants in a school.

“I think the biggest thing I want to look at is just my relationship with the people, the coaches and the players,” Cimino said. “And obviously, academics will be a part of it. A good fit and how a team plays will be a part of it. And I think those will be the factors in how I’m going to decide.”

Another 2014 name to know

On Tuesday, it was revealed that Indiana is involved with Morgan Park (Ill.) forward Josh Cunningham.

Initially, Cunningham confirmed a report by D1Circuit that IU was one of his finalists along with Oklahoma, Creighton, South Carolina, DePaul and Bradley, but he later tweeted that he has not cut his list.

Cunningham, a 6-foot-7 forward, is rated the No. 122 prospect and No. 28 small forward in the 247 Composite.

Other notes

· Tom Crean was at Waggener high school in Louisville on Tuesday evening watching class of 2015 Louisville Trinity big man Raymond Spalding. The 6-foot-9, 200 pound forward is rated the 109th best prospect in the 2015 class by the 247Composite.

Spalding scored 14 points and grabbed 16 rebounds as Trinity beat Waggener, 71-51.

· Another big man Indiana is showing interest in is 2015 Northfield (Mass.) Mount Hermon power forward Josh Sharma.

Sharma, who is 6-foot-11, told Inside the Hall that the Hoosiers have not yet offered, however that he has indeed spoken with Johnson on multiple occasions over the past couple weeks.

Sharma is rated the No. 77 prospect in next year’s class and has offers from Wisconsin, Maryland and Connecticut, among others.

· We mentioned it in yesterday’s roundup, but rosters for the McDonald’s All-American game will be announced tonight at 6 p.m. ET on ESPNU. If James Blackmon Jr. is selected, it will mark the fourth straight season the Hoosiers have landed a McDonald’s All-American.

(Photo credit: Kelly Kline, adidas)

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  • JerryCT

    Judging by the blocked shots and turnovers Vonleh needs one more year before he gets beat up in the pros ……….. but he might leave. None of the guys mentioned however strike me as a replacement for Vonleh since they are not McD All Americans. We fans just have to adjust

  • CreamandCrimson

    Jerry! Your comments and insight have been missed (at least by me). I hope all is well.

    You are correct, if Vonleh leaves (really hope he stays because next season could be special if he stays), there is no one out there who can be a like-for-like replacement. I continue to believe that bringing in a graduate transfer who is completely developed is probably the best avenue for next year’s roster but it’s hard to plan for those because you can’t be sure about who will be available to pursue. We’ll see how it shakes out. That being said, next year’s team should have other strengths that won’t require us having a “Noah Vonleh-caliber” big-man. It sure would be a huge plus to have him back though.

  • Steve Fischer

    There are piles of hype -storied about Noah to the NBA. It can’t hut turn a young man’s head. He is not ready for the pros- I think Cody Zeller has figured out the same thing.

  • I keep thinking/hoping that we could land a good big man, who would be strong enough to start and play with his back to the basket. Cimino could be that guy. If we do, it seems like Noah would see that he could come back and work more as a four.. try to get his skills in that position more along the lines of Kevin Durant.. I guess if he is in fact being projected as a top 5 draft pick, it’s going to be difficult for him to turn down the money. Surely hope he stays one more year though..

  • NBA drafting is largely based on potential. Noah Vonleh has as much potential as any Indiana freshman has ever had. If he knows he will go in the lottery he is as good as gone weather he is ready or not.

  • plane1972

    I agree that there is not a replacement for Noah, but I think our style of play changes somewhat next year with some legitimate outside shooting coming from improved upperclassmen and hopefully the new guys. Perhaps we don’t have to have a blue-chip big. Certainly would be nice to have, though.

  • Rie

    Cody showed he could capitalize on being hyped way up in a bad draft. Made himself some $$$$ at the optimal time. Nothing wrong with that, just pointing out that Zeller may have learned he was not totally ready, but at the same time, did what was best in monetary regards. He is still young and will keep improving.

  • That’s not exactly what you wrote, but OK.

    Also, if you’re unregistered, your comments get moderated.

  • SCHoosier

    Cimino might be an answer to IU’s “big” problem…or maybe not. Still early..JUCO;’s to look at. TC is always telling his players not to “settle” (for quick shots etc). I hope he doesn’t just “settle” on this prospect…am sure IU will be very aggressive trying to find a big.

  • Hardwood83

    I think what most mean by ‘ready’ is a guy has basically hit the ceiling of development at the college level- or very least rounded his game to the point he can contribute immediately as a pro.
    It’s not unreasonable, but is unrealistic. The problem is the idiot NBA teams that reward potential without demanding skills. And the list of busts and flame-outs continue.

  • TomO

    Vonleh is 6’10”, plays with a high motor, is fearless on the glass and is a good shooter. As an NBA season ticket holder I can tell you there aren’t many in the league like him, and EVERY team would love to have him. I’d love it if he stays, but there’s no way it happens. He’s ready for the pro’s. I’m all for recruiting other bigs at this point.

  • JohnFromBeyond

    If you’re drafted in the first round, you are ready – to collect a pay check. We as college bball fans look at player development but the NBA only cares about potential. Sure, Zeller wasn’t fully developed and ready to dominate, but I guarantee you he has zero regrets becoming a millionaire while working on his game. Good comparison between Vonley and Zeller, and I expect the same thing to happen – he becomes a millionaire this summer and struggles in the NBA during his first year. Good for both of them, good recruiting press for IU.

  • JohnFromBeyond

    Very good point. Fans will have to stop expecting the interior post option #1 on offense. We have some slashers in Yogi, Stan, Troy, and I hope Davis. We will have good shooters next year. We will need our bigs to kick it out to shooters and get some easy put backs, that is all. It will be a big change in style next year without an All American inside.

  • Rie

    Meh, I wouldn’t be so sure. He is still younger than most guys in college basketball and could even raise his stock to the number one pick next year. If that is a possible goal, then he could pursue that avenue.
    We have no idea what his motivations are.

  • JerryCT

    Not well really , thanks for asking. I have a progressive incurable brain disease ………….but I expect to be around some years longer however before they lower the boom

  • JerryCT

    Early on CTC said he did not want “one & done” players so much as he wanted kids with attitude who could develop over time. I tend to agree with that given the problems trying to reload and coach freshmen.

    The last 3 years of good young centers has spoiled me however so now I am looking for another Vonleh ………… I too need to adjust

  • CreamandCrimson

    That is awful…I hope the “some years longer” ends up being longer than you are expecting. For whatever it’s worth to you, I’ll be praying for you.

  • Gregory Spera

    Heck, we are lucky studs like Vonleh are forced to play even ONE year of college ball. We could easily be back in the days when Indiana would loose five star commits like Josh Smith to the NBA.

  • Kyl470

    No one on this list will be a direct replacement for Noah, but in reality I don’t know if even a guy of Trey Lyles caliber would be an equal replacement for Noah. Noah is a special talent and is most likely going pro. He will be a top 10 pick if he leaves. Only chance he stays is if he wants a shot at the #1 pick which he could be if he stayed one more year. That doesn’t change the fact that IU has to get some size for next year. None of these guys are highly ranked guys, but they appear to be the best of what is still available since Myles Turner isn’t considering IU.

  • PDXHoosier

    Maybe the lure of an NCAA championship will keep him here, but I doubt it.

  • PDXHoosier

    I really hope we can get a big man that is not a project. I think a JUCO or graduate transfer would be ideal to step in for a year or two at most and provide a reliable defender/rebounder.

  • PDXHoosier

    Maybe McGary should have done the same thing?

  • Kyl470

    No one goes pro based on if they are ready or not. It’s all about where you will get drafted. Cody was the #4 pick so you can’t say he made the wrong decision. Also players develop more in the pros than in college. Once you are on a NBA roster you get to do basketball 24/7. There are no rules restricting your work outs, practices, and you don’t have to attend college classes.

  • JerryCT

    Thanks Cream

  • Ole Man

    Ken; after watching this guy’s “tape”, he is really more of a PF than a true 5.
    Nothing against the young man, but he plays “below the hoop”. I’m hoping IU takes a pass and either gets a JUCO or works with Hanner like crazy this summer.

  • You’re horribly misinformed and just flat out wrong. In the NBA, basketball is your job. It’s all you do. Cody is free to work on his game all day and he’s going up against the best players in the world.

  • Joe B

    Normally I’m not one to care about how highly a kid is recruited, because those tend to only tell half the story and be wrong 50% of the time..(see Oladipo). But, I think Vonleh and Zeller worked out pretty well. It just disturbs me that we can’t seem to win anymore of the big time recruits who are going to come in and make a big impact right away. And, lets be honest, with the thin frontcourt we will have next year, especially if Noah leaves, we need someone to come in contribute from day 1 (obviously I know it’s late in the year and most of the ’14 class is declared). I don’t know, it just feels to me that we are starting to fall into this cycle of being good or slightly above average, but never great.. Yes, you can say that Crean has had top 10 recruiting classes but, outside of Yogi in the ’12 class, who else as really made that much of an impact. Now, if one of these guys mentioned above signs on and can really help us next year, than I’m all for it and support them, regardless. But going forward, I hope we can maybe have a year where we get 2 Vonleh’s in the same class like the Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan St.. etc of the world that we like to throw ourself in the same bucket of prestige with.. Thus ends my rant for the day.

  • calbert40

    And I’d be cool with that. A post player who is tough, gets to loose balls, rebounds and defends well, and scores 6-8 points a night with 8 boards. That is really all we need. A player like Egwu or Costello. It is nice to have an AA like Vonleh or Zeller, but it isn’t necessary in order to have a good team.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Huh? It’s the pros man, basketball is their whole life at that point. No school, no job, just basketball.

  • calbert40

    I wish the NBA would get rid of the one year rule. I think it hurts college basketball more than it helps. Actually, I would like to see the NBA and NCAA work on a rule that is similar to MLB’s pro draft rule: you can go pro immediately after HS, but if you go to college, you aren’t eligible until after your junior season.

    I think that would keep the players who have no desire to attend college out of school (ouch for UK), but it would give some continuity to the game at the same time.

  • Hoosier Hall

    I agree about Lyles. No disrespect to Trey, but the 2013 class was the most talked about in a decade and Noah was top 10-15. Jabari Parker is outstanding and Tyler Ennis plays like a senior. There are so many others lighting it up this year. I don’t even think Lyles would be top 25 in last year’s class.

  • Kyl470

    I think Alex said it best that you are misinformed and flat out wrong. Read an article out there about a players basketball experience in the NBA vs. college.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I read this line…”Yes, you can say that Crean has had top 10 recruiting classes but, outside of Yogi in the ’12 class, who else as really made that much of an impact.”…several times and tried to figure what you meant. To me, it appears you are saying that Crean hasn’t recruited anyone besides who has had much of an impact but you can’t possibly mean that.

    Watford, Hulls, Oladipo, Sheehey, Zeller and Robinson and Williams are really starting to show their worth and potential. There are others as well. I understand if you have concerns that we won’t be able to reach the heights of last season again but saying that Yogi is the only recent recruit of “impact” isn’t fair to CTC, his staff or the players.

  • Kyl470

    Thank you Alex. I guess some people don’t realize that in the NBA you practice against NBA players. In college you practice against your teammates some of which are walk ons. Nothing against Jeff Howard, but I’m guessing Cody is benefitting more from practicing against Al Jefferson.

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    I was checking on Max’s season at Wilbraham an Monson high school, and was surprised to see his team record at 8-8. Max along with Goodluck, 2 major college recruits, should cause a high school team to be better than 500. Anyone else surprised? Will we be seeing updated season stats for the 2014 recruits any time soon?

  • Kyl470

    I don’t think Noah will ever be a Kevin Durant. He doesn’t have the quickness and ball skills that Durant has. However, Noah already is physically stronger than Durant. I see Noah as much more of a Chris Webber type player. A physical post player that can step out and hit an open set shot.

  • Kyl470

    They are playing against high level high school competition. The teams they play on a regular basis also possess D1 players. Plus Goodluck isn’t really an offensive weapon and Max isn’t a top 100 player.

  • I think you’re probably right about that.. just was thinking that if he just grows another inch and likes to play with his back to the basket, maybe he’d be a replacement for Luke. I always thought he’d be more of a back to the basket kind of guy. You could be right about this guy’s hops though…

  • I think you’re probably right about the quickness and really probably agility. I just didn’t think he’d be big enough to really post up as a steady diet in the NBA.. His outside shot will lend itself to the four.. and yes, I suppose he’s more of a Chris Weber type .. Just hope he doesn’t call a timeout when we don’t have any left…lol..

  • BFowler

    I saw Coach Crean at Mooresville vs. Southport Saturday night. Southport has a 6’10” sophomore with pretty good hands and decent around the rim. Not real athletic…reminds me a bit of Fischer. Is Indiana actively recruiting any Southport kids?

  • Joe B

    I may have worded it very badly.. but I was trying to say that we had this recruiting class known as “the movement” that really turned out to be Yogi so far. People just use this class as an example when they prasie Crean’s recruiting even though it was more than likely overrated.
    And I wasn’t discrediting the past classes, just tyring to say that we need to really starting getting more top tier recruits, consistently, to expect to be among the elite where we all think we belong.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Got it…that makes more sense. I think both Robert Johnson and James Blackmon Jr. are going to be really good and possibly elite players. You are correct though, to get to where we all hope IU basketball can get to, we are going to need to land elite recruits consistently.

  • Joe B

    And I agree with you that both of those guys will be really good and JBJ will definitely be an impact player from day 1. But with Fischer’s transfer, Vonleh’s potential departure, and the failure to lock up any other impact frontocourt players; I’m not sure all the shooting and guard play in the world will be enough to make this team good next year if we don’t have one competent big man in the post..

  • CreamandCrimson

    That’s very fair and probably accurate. Noah Vonleh could stay (which would make for a potentially special season)…if he goes, we have to hope Hanner becomes a “competent big man” in his junior season and that we are able to find a competent big man that is either a freshman (not looking likely) OR that we find one that is a graduate transfer. Experienced, developed, hopefully just hungry to do dirty work (rebound, defend, set screens and get put backs). Let’s just hope Noah makes it easy on us and hangs around for his sophomore season!

  • Aiken_Hoosier

    2017 G Paul Scruggs

  • SCHoosier

    Re: Blueitt..TC had other priorities (Pinson..Robinson and other “athletes”0. TB didn’t get a high mark for his quickness or defense..but boy can he fill it up. IU had Blackmon in the fold then so TB did not feel he was a priority for IU.. or so it was reported.. Many others felt he wanted to go somewhere ..and “be the man.” Instant 3 pt offense for sure.

  • HoosierFan76

    There’s a difference between someone who rides pine for a while and then becomes a contributor, and someone who only rides the pine until the four years is up and then moves on. Not everybody can get big minutes in every game, remember. Guys like Etherington and Howard spent tons of time on the bench in the past, and they’re getting solid minutes of run now and giving good solid play in return. I agree that IU needs an immediate contributor in the post next season to pair with Hanner, but the pickings are slim right now. It will be interesting to see what is available from JUCOs and 5th-year transfers.

  • Outoftheloop

    He sounds like an interesting player, not a “dart at a board”. Do you remember Nover? A pretty good “dart”.

  • Outoftheloop

    If Noah stays (very probable), Hanner continues to improve (very probable), and Jeremy “gets it (? 50/50?): plus Devin, Austin and Troy (Big Wings) ; plus real shooters (James, Robert and Max) for spacing; plus Stan and Yogi as very experienced guards; IU will be Final Four material! If Peter can ever play, the sky (Banner) is the limit!

  • Outoftheloop

    A recruiting class is usually judged after 4 years not after 20 games.