Indiana among top three schools for Raymond Spalding

  • 07/10/2014 2:24 pm in

INDIANAPOLIS — If it wasn’t clear going into July what kind of priority Louisville Trinity (Ky.) forward Raymond Spalding is for Indiana in its class of 2015 recruiting efforts, the start of the first July evaluation period is putting things into focus.

With high profile events like the Reebok Classic, LeBron James Skills Academy and adidas Unrivaled going on at other venues across the country, Indiana coach Tom Crean was at North Central high school on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning to watch Spalding in the adidas Invitational.

The fact that Crean was in attendance for Spalding’s first two games, the only head coach in his top three schools to earn that distinction, wasn’t lost on the rising senior.

“It really tells a lot about him and his program,” Spalding told Inside the Hall. “He takes basketball to heart over there. He’s a great coach. For him to come to my games, the head coach, the head guy, that means a lot. I talk to coach Crean every day. He’s becoming one of my best friends. We talk every day about basketball and our families in general. He’s a great guy, great coach.”

On Wednesday evening, Spalding poured in 34 points and 11 rebounds as The Ville beat UA Grind, 76-67 and he followed that up with 14 points as The Ville beat St. Louis Gateway, 64-43, on Thursday morning.

Crean, along with Xavier coach Chris Mack and assistants from Clemson and Tennessee, watched Spalding on Thursday morning. After the comfortable win over St. Louis Gateway, Spalding talked more in-depth about his relationship with Crean.

“We talk every day about basketball, our families. He has a son that plays baseball,” he said. “He’s a great guy and he tells me every thing. Besides being a great basketball coach at Indiana University, he’s a great father, mentor and leader.”

The contact with Indiana is frequent — Spalding says he and Crean exchange text messages at least three times per day — and his message is often centered on just how big of a priority he is for the program.

But the Hoosiers are not alone in their pursuit of Spalding, who is on the rise nationally. He listed Xavier and Louisville, along with IU, as his top three schools, in no particular order. Both schools received unofficial visits from Spalding in June and Louisville offered a scholarship on his visit there.

Standing just a few feet from a group of coaches that included Mack, Spalding broke down what he likes about that program as well as Louisville.

“Xavier University, it’s a great school,” he said. “Besides basketball, it’s a great academic school. I got to talk to their academic services person. He’s a great guy, great person. Xavier basketball, it’s big over there in Cincinnati. There’s not much besides basketball over there. Coach (Chris) Mack and coach Travis Steele, those guys are great over there. They really control the players and they have a wonderful facility and they’re starting to build more to it.

“I love the academics (at Louisville) and it’s home town. Coach (Rick) Pitino, he really gets guys to the next level, the pro level. And that’s what I love about it.”

Spalding says he remains open to new schools who may begin recruiting him this month and he’s already hearing from one new school that began contact about a week ago.

“I’m starting to talk to Duke a little bit more than I have before,” Spalding said. “Coach (Nate) James. Talking to Duke, it’s a great university, academics and just a crazy atmosphere over there. They want to get me up sometime to take a visit, but I don’t know when I’m going to take a visit yet.”

At close to 6-foot-10, Spalding may still be growing, but he said all of the schools are recruiting him to play a stretch floor that can also play away from the basket at times.

“It’s a huge focus for me, being a stretch four,” he said. “In my development I need to learn how to shoot the ball better. Today I didn’t shoot the ball that great, but last night I shot it pretty well and I’m just getting in that daily effort and it really comes along.”

The next step for Spalding in the process will likely be to cut his list and look at where he might like to take official visits this fall. In previous interviews, he’s mentioned signing in the fall, but that’s no longer a certainty at this point.

“It’ll be tough to come to a decision because those are three great schools,” Spalding said. “The head coaches there are tremendous guys. When it comes down to making a decision, it’ll be pretty tough.

“I may wait it out until spring some time.”

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  • Alford Bailey

    I think we are gonna see Spaulding move up the rankings pretty well. I believe we can beat Xavier but Louisville and now maybe Duke in the picture are major hurdles for Crean and Co.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    Want to be a stretch 4? Don’t come to IU.

  • Gregory Spera

    I guess just because the recruiting services put a “PF” after his name, don’t expect this kid to be a “power” forward. All the young bigs want to be a stretch four. I blame Dirk.

  • Brad

    What a brilliant comment. We’ve only had two stretch fours as NBA lottery picks the last two years.

  • Rie

    What are you talking about? Watford and Troy both play(ed) stretch four.

  • Gregory Spera

    I think Max will prove different.

  • Miamihoosier

    They all want to be Chris Bosh, and none of them want to be Tim Duncan…Duncan will play in to his 40’s if he wants and already has 5 titles, bc he has no competition…..every 7 footer wants to be a shooting guard…what a joke. Can’t we get Crean to make Caleb Swanigan his best friend? I’m just kidding, bc I don’t know the players or their attitudes, but if we just signed Swanigan. Coleman, and Hyron Edwards in 2015, I’d be more excited than for any other recent class

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    Zeller and Vonleh both expressed their desire to play the 4 but both ended up playing the center (5) position almost exclusively in our offense. Vonleh didn’t always end up on the block (as evidenced by his 3pt attempts), but he was our center.

  • Miamihoosier

    I think you are being a little unfair. Watford and Troy are natural 3’s that played 4 to help us out. Different story when you are talking about a natural 5, wanting to shoot jumpers as much as possible…I gotta believe that’s what our friend is referring to

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    Watford wanted to play the 3, but was forced to play the 4 because of our lack of front court depth (putting Zeller at the 5 instead of his desired 4).

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    Seems like every high schooler over 6’8″ wants to be Kevin Durant.

  • Alford Bailey

    Yes, Durant is the biggest reason.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    I hope so! He might struggle at 6’7″ if he’s going to guard the other team’s 4 (I’m sure IU will end up listing him at 6’9″ based on the way we generously give nearly all of our guys one or two inches; [lack of] weight will also be an issue).

  • Alford Bailey

    Love Tim Duncan. Doesn’t run his mouth just does his job. Swanigan, Coleman and Edwards would be a sweet class but Swanigan is good as gone and the other two I don’t get IU is at the top of the list by any stretch.

  • Brad

    And they both ended up as lottery picks. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters to these big name recruits.

  • N71

    Jeremiah April, in theory, will develop into our starting 5. Therefore Raymond’s playing the 4 seems reasonable…in theory.

  • Gregory Spera

    I have not seen him in person, but in recent photos and vids, to my eye, Max appears taller (and thinner) than advertised. So “stretch four” it is!

  • At 6-10 with a lot of potential I feel this is the type of player we need to be looking at for 2015. Duke and Louisville may not be able to offer immediate playing time like Iu can. Although a true center would be ideal….I will be thrilled if we get a player over 6-6.

  • Alford Bailey

    I tend to agree but it seems the immediate playing time angle hasn’t worked for us lately.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    “These things have a way of working themselves out.” 🙂

  • Tonio

    His favorite player is Rudy Gay. He also plays back to the basket 5 on his high school team.

  • Rie

    How in the world is Watford a natural three? The guy is slow, especially laterally, not athletic, not a slasher, not good at dribbling and is 6’9″-6’10”.

    In terms of Troy, I will concede he is a natural three, but this is college basketball so there is nothing wrong putting a 6’7″-6’8″ guy in the role of a stretch four. Actually, he is better here because his perimeter defense is awful, which makes playing the four beneficial to him as he can more than likely defend in the paint. His length there is a big bonus. Offensively, he is best as a slasher, so he helps spread the floor and can make stuff happen in space.

    Honestly, I think he was referring to Cody and Noah, which is even more shortsighted, because in the college game they were absolutely best served at the five. Trying to assign NBA positions to the college game really lacks a lot of thought-out basketball rational.

  • IUDan

    Yeah I don’t get this either. Seems like there is a need for true post players out there …

    The other thing is that true 4s at most schools end up playing in the post for most of their college careers

  • Miamihoosier

    I think you are probably right. Out of the 3, I think Edwards could be the biggest loss, and he is the lowest ranked player. I just think having a kid who is a true point, from east chicago, sit behind the best PG in the country his freshman year, would put IU in a great position to have the PG spot locked up for the next 4 years, with a beast

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    If that’s really all that matters, we would’ve landed Anthony Lee (the graduate transfer from Temple). But he knew that he’d end up playing the 5 on next year’s team, so he chose O$U.

  • Brad

    Oh, so he told you that’s why he decided to go to Ohio State? I didn’t know you guys were close. He decided to go OSU, where Matta, the coaching extraordinaire, has developed all those elite big men like…wait…I’ll think of one in a second.

  • ronb

    WHY in the world ,knowing we need every big man we can get .would u pore cold water on a hot recruit?? Sure CZ and NV had to play low because we did not have a center or quality other big men. We need 2
    or 3 of these big guys so they can play a stretch 4 but we will never get this with the fan base bashing IU. Please , I know u must be a smart guy if u have a PHD so u can figure this out or is it your PU nature coming out?
    I just do not understand?

  • Rie

    Who cares what they want? If Watford was too pigheaded to realize his skillset was best aligned with playing the four, then I am glad he did not get his wish. Same with Zeller. Please find out how many jump-shots Zeller took in his time at IU, in total, and get back to me. Allowing him to be a stretch four would have been beyond stupid.

    You have nothing in any of your posts to back up the notion that these players were not best suited were they were. Just what said players “wanted” at some random point in their career at IU. Basketball reasons are better for positioning than pointless rhetoric.

  • Alford Bailey

    Easy now. Out of the last three lottery picks none of the three played stretch 4. That was Cwat’s position and to a certain extent TW last year.

  • CreamandCrimson

    We are in the final 3 for a 6’9″ player that is rising up recruiting rankings and is clearly very skilled. It’s not cause for jumping up and down celebrations but it’s too bad that nearly all of the comments are arguments against who was/wasn’t a stretch 4, our perceived failure to make former post players happy and how players today don’t play the same way they used to.

    Someone said it the other day (may have been Gregory) and it gets more true every day, we desperately need some actual basketball to moan about (unless it goes poorly…I cringe at the level of toxicity this already frustrated community will reach if we lose a few games in December).

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    Take it easy there, big fella. No need to go all Great White Snark on me.

    No, I do not have direct knowledge of Lee’s decision to go to OSU, but it’s also not hard to deduce his reasoning. He expressed very clearly and early on in the process that he wanted to play the 4 next year. It’s also fairly obvious that that wasn’t going to happen on next year’s IU team. Thus, he chose a school where he can play the 4. Lee wants to get to the NBA and playing center on a bubble team probably won’t help him (he doesn’t have the upside that Vonleh does). You’re right, Matta doesn’t have a history of developing bigs, but the last I checked, Jared Sullinger was doing alright in the NBA.

  • Alford Bailey

    It will be ok, Rie. Hey, how about this Spaulding kid??

  • Alford Bailey

    We have the upcoming Canada trip. That will help I think. Edit. Or signing a top recruit for 2015 might calm the waters a little.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    Julius Randle had a fantastic season at pUKe this year. Would he have succeeded at the 5? Probably. Did he excel at the 4? Definitely.

    Now apply that to Vonleh. Did he do well at the 5? Yes. Would he have done better at the 4? Definitely. Put Vonleh on the block opposite one of pUKe’s bigs or Kaminsky or Payne or whomever and tell me that he wouldn’t have had an even better season.

  • Miamihoosier

    If we lose more than 2 or 3 games in pre-conference, I’ll be very toxic, warning you now. I’ve chosen to take a positive outlook on this season, bc I think we have the players to fit this coaches system, and that we have the opportunity to be very good. If we aren’t good, I don’t think any IU fan should have the patience to sit through a second consecutive season of mediocrity….especially in year 7 of this coach’s tenure

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    … because Spalding reads ITH? I have said *nothing* that Pitino (and probably Kenny Johnson) or Chris Mack or Coach K for that matter wouldn’t tell Spalding to his face. The easiest negative recruiting there is to do is kindly point out how other coaches have “misused” players. “Coach Soandso would play you at the __, but that won’t happen if you come to _______.” – Every Coach Ever

  • Alford Bailey

    I agree. Yogi took some heat last season but you need that stability at point. Must have a suitable replacement in the pipeline for him.

  • Alford Bailey

    Probably giving us fans a little too much credit, Ron. See, no recruit in their right mind bases a decision on what we think.

  • Rie

    There you go again with another absolute statement with nothing concrete to back it up, apart from your opinion.

    You are comparing two teams with two completely different styles of play. We are up-tempo, run-and-gun, which generally employs smaller lineups. What is Noah’s best skillset? Rebounding. He is best suited in the college game as a five, where he can play around the basket and showcase his strongest skillsets. Just because he would have been a good stretch four does not mean he was best suited there last season. Rebounding is the most translatable skill from NCAA Basketball to the NBA.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    “Put Vonleh ON THE BLOCK opposite…”

    Was I arguing for Vonleh to stay 30 feet away from the basket and never ever rebound; or, instead, was I arguing that placing Vonleh at the 4 would actually give him even more of an advantage over the opponent?

    IU and pUKe both run the dribble-drive offense, btw. And we did almost no running or gunning last year.

  • Rie

    Dribble/drive is part of our run-and-gun. Why are you ignoring our pace of play? Our offense is predicated on spacing. Who was supposed to play the five?

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    Luke Fischer. 🙂

  • Alford Bailey

    Can you explain WHY all of these bigs are going to play for Matta and Columbus is about as close as they are getting to Crean and IU?

  • Rie

    Exactly.

  • Alford Bailey

    AE, but that did not work so well so he moved on.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    (except that LF and NV subbed for each other during LF’s brief stay in Bloomington … based on the, uh, “interesting” substitution that *sometimes* happens, something tells me the trend of subbing LF in for NV would’ve continued in B1G play)

  • Alford Bailey

    I actually won’t mind if we lose a couple in December with our upgraded schedule. As long as these young guys are learning…

  • Rie

    So you are predicting a trend after saying we have “interesting” substitutions? I agree that they were unpredictable and sometimes baffling. It is amazing you are able to predict something so consistently unstable.

  • Alford Bailey

    You can’t have two guys over 6-7 on the court at the same time. Its in Creans contract I’m pretty sure.

  • Brad

    Can you? The reality is that there are about ten or less elite big men in every class. The odds of landing one aren’t great to begin with, so to claim that it’s because of Crean and his lack of development is insane. Maybe it’s because there just aren’t a lot of them to go around. And I would be interested to hear the names of “all these bigs” that are going to OSU, because off the top of my head, I can think of exactly none of them outside of Greg Oden and we all know how that panned out.