Love the system or hate it, the month of July is as big as any on the college basketball calendar. Recruiting victories, whether it’s securing a talented top-50 recruit or finding a hidden gem, lead to wins in March.
With college coaches watching this week during the first of three five-day evaluation periods, the Adidas Invitational is a chance for players to make an impression. And it may be a final impression for players such as Dylan Windler (Perry Meridian) and Brennan Gillis (Ben Davis), who will be high school seniors.
“It’s the first tournament where coaches can come and watch (in July), and most coaches aren’t going to offer before they see you,” said the 6-7 Windler.
Windler has helped himself this week, earning offers from Northern Kentucky, Tennessee Tech and UNC-Greensboro. He’s playing with the 2015 Indiana Elite team that is without Hyron Edwards (East Chicago Central), Kyle Guy (Lawrence Central) and Josh Speidel (Columbus North), who are all playing at the Adidas Unrivaled event in Chicago.
“It’s actually helped me to get a little more playing time,” said Windler, who said IPFW, IUPUI and William & Mary are also showing heavy interest. “It may hurt our chances to win the tournament, but I think we still have a pretty good shot.”
Indiana Elite won two games to advance to the semifinal against The Ville at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at North Central. The other semifinal, also at 10:30, pits the Eric Gordon Central Stars vs. Brookwood Elite.
Gillis, a 6-6 forward, helped his Eric Gordon Central Stars to a pair of wins Saturday and also came away with an offer, from Northern Kentucky.
Gillis’ ear-to-ear smile confirmed his satisfaction with the offer.
“They want to get me back down there for an official visit,” said Gillis, who took a recent unofficial visit there.
He received an Illinois State offer during the school season but said he hasn’t heard much from coaches there recently. Northern Kentucky, which has recruited the Indianapolis area hard under coach Dave Bezold, was a school from which Gillis hoped to hear.
“The coaching staff there is on point for me,” he said. “They love my dad and all his yelling and screaming. My family had a good time down there, and we looking forward to going back.”
Gillis said he’s definitely focusing in on basketball for college despite some interest as a football prospect. He will play football for the Giants this fall.
“I got a little bit of interest,” he said of football. “There were a lot of camps they wanted me to go to, but I decided not to do football camps. It wouldn’t have worked out with basketball. I’m a basketball junkie and football is something to build me up on strength and keep me doing something different.”
Gillis’ teammate, Center Grove guard Michael Benkert, doesn’t have anything to prove in July to college coaches. He committed to Belmont last month over offers from Indiana State and Lehigh. Based on his play this week, it wouldn’t be a surprise if high-major schools reached out to Benkert.
But Benkert said he knew that could be the case even before he committed. He doesn’t plan on straying from Belmont.
“Waiting through July I don’t think would have changed my feeling about Belmont,” he said. “I could see it being hard if a high-major came into recruit me, but I think I’m going to stick with my commitment. Belmont gives me the best opportunity.”
Indiana coach Tom Crean was back at North Central late Saturday afternoon to see Raymond Spalding, a 6-9 forward from Louisville. Spalding, ranked No. 69 in the 2015 class nationally by Rivals, said earlier this week that his top three schools are Indiana, Louisville and Xavier.
The Evansville-based Pocket City Basketball 17-U team fell 62-56 in a round of 16 game Saturday morning to Brookwood Elite from Canada.
Jaelan Sanford, a 6-3 guard from Evansville Reitz, was one of the standouts this week for Pocket City. Sanford picked up his first offer from Northern Kentucky this week and has visited Ball State, IPFW, Eastern Kentucky and Wright State. Other mid-major schools are showing interest.
“I’ve been playing shooting guard the last couple years, but I like playing point guard and handling the ball more now,” he said. “Most schools see me as a combo guard.”
Adam Eberhard, a 6-7 forward from Evansville Memorial, and Everett Duncan (Vermont commit) and Stanley Duncan are other top players for Pocket City. Eberhard, an IndyStar Indiana Junior All-Star, has Division II offers from the University of Indianapolis, Southern Indiana and Lindenwood (Mo.).
Purdue recruit Ryan Cline (Carmel) hit eight 3-pointers and finished with 28 points as Indiana Elite 2015 pounded Ohio Basketball Club 84-57 in a round of 16 game. He followed it with 30 points in an 84-66 win over DB Hoops Baum from Ohio. … Djimon Henson (Warren Central) had six 3-pointers and 25 points as UA Grind Shepherd 2016 defeated UA Grind Crist 82-68 in a round of 16 game.
Quarterfinal games for the 15U platinum bracket will begin at 8 a.m. Sunday at North Central. The championships are set for 11:45 a.m. (16U), 1 p.m. (17U) and 2:15 p.m. (15U).
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.