As summer recruiting picks up, it is time for teams to begin to prioritize targets for their Class of 2017. For Indiana, there are so many question marks for who will stay and who will go to the NBA Draft both this year and next that it makes the task of prioritizing recruits difficult, but I took a stab at it for them anyway. Below is a list of the Hoosiers' top three recruiting needs and a guy for each who could be a good fit.
IU’s priorities in their next class:
- Athletic forward
- Big man
- Ball handler
I believe priority number one for the Hoosiers should be obtaining another athletic forward. Troy Williams recently hired an agent and will not return to Bloomington next season. If his successor, OG Anunoby, has the season most Hoosier fans are hoping for and expecting, he could leave for the NBA Draft after one more year.
JUCO transfer Freddie McSwain can step up into the primary role of swingman in 2017 for the Hoosiers, but having two is always better than one. The prospect that fits this bill is Kris Wilkes from right up the road in Indianapolis. As a five star recruit, he is in high demand and could be difficult for the Hoosiers to land.
If he doesn't feel like he has a good chance at landing Wilkes, a big man should be Tom Crean’s next target. Indiana will likely be looking at losing Thomas Bryant after next year, which will leave a lot of rebounds up for grabs. Deron Davis and Juwan Morgan are both valid front court options, but if Crean could add depth up front it would certainly help with rotations.
Jaren Jackson should be a primary target for this need. He is 6-10 with a somewhat thin build of 220 pounds, but Bryant was in similar shape when he arrived in Bloomington. Like Wilkes, Jackson attends school in Indianapolis which could give the Hoosiers an early advantage in his recruitment.
Between James Blackmon Jr, Robert Johnson, and Curtis Jones the Hoosiers seem pretty set at shooting guard. Aside from Josh Newkirk, however, the point guard position leaves a lot to be desired. Devonte Green could answer the call of backup point guard, but there are no assurances that Green is ready to run the offense. Fortunately, Tom Crean has already has a commitment from Aljami Durham, a point guard in the Class of 2017, which is why the need for another ball handler is less of a priority.
Nonetheless, even with Durham, the addition of another ball handler to Indiana’s stable of guards would certainly be welcome. Paul Scruggs, another Indiana guy, is a player many IU fans are already familiar with. Although Scruggs may be looking elsewhere in his recruitment, Crean can use Yogi Ferrell as an example for how successful point guards from Indiana can be if they stay close to home. Don’t be surprised to see Crean make a strong run at Scruggs if some scholarships potentially open up for 2017.
The way the current scholarship breakdown is structured, IU is guaranteed to have one available scholarship for the Class of 2017, Colin Hartman’s. That spot has been taken by Aljami Durham. But as we all know, the Hoosiers are likely to have an early entry or two for the 2017 NBA Draft which will open up other scholarships. It is important to note that a lot of the priorities I envision are largely based on IU’s need for a particular skill rather than a specific position. Don’t be surprised if Tom Crean sees these needs filled in non-recruiting ways. For example, if James Blackmon Jr. develops amazing handles this offseason, then the need for another point guard becomes significantly less important.
If there is one thing we do know for sure, it is that Tom Crean always has a plan in recruiting. If recent history is any indication, the fans in Bloomington will be happy with whichever talented players he is able to bring in for the Class of 2017.