July is recruiting season for college basketball coaches, and with the final evaluation period of the month set to open, Indiana’s staff will be canvassing the country, from Louisville to Las Vegas. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some of the Hoosiers’ priority recruits in 2016 and 2017.
It is not completely comprehensive, but it includes top targets across multiple positions in both classes. Here are some names to know.
(Players listed in alphabetical order. Listed rankings drawn from 247Sports Composite, an industry-generated ranking based on information gathered from all four major recruiting services.)
Expected class size: 3-6
Indiana has three players graduating after this season, and as many as three more – Troy Williams, James Blackmon Jr. and perhaps Thomas Bryant – who might have professional futures to consider. Replacing outgoing guards Yogi Ferrell and Nick Zeisloft will be a priority.
RAWLE ALKINS (6-5, 210 pounds, school TBD, No. 17 nationally, No. 4 SG)
Tom Crean and Chuck Martin have prioritized Alkins, a New York City native, for some time now, having offered him last summer. Alkins visited Hoosier Hysteria last October. But his commitment will not come easily. Alkins recently said the only blue-blood school that hadn’t offered yet was Duke, and he’s reportedly planning to visit Kentucky for Big Blue Madness this fall. Alkins will spend his final year of high school at a yet-to-be-determined prep school.
MILES BRIDGES (6-6, 218 pounds, Huntington Prep, No. 18 nationally, No. 3 SF)
One of the most coveted prospects in 2016, Bridges recently trimmed his list to five schools. Indiana made the cut, as did Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan and Michigan State. General wisdom right now is that it will be hard to beat out one of the Wildcats or Spartans for his commitment, but Indiana isn’t out of the picture by any means.
BRUCE BROWN (6-4, 201 pounds, Vermont Academy, No. 47 nationally, No. 9 SG)
A tough, athletic combo guard from New England, Brown has been on Indiana’s wish list for nearly a year. He’s been a priority on the recruiting trail this month, and that could pay off. Brown plans to take official visits this fall, and right now, the Hoosiers appear to be positioned to host one.
DE’RON DAVIS (6-9 ½, 235 pounds, Aurora (Colo.) Overland, No. 40 nationally, No. 11 PF)
Indiana has targeted Davis since his freshman year of high school. Guards are a priority in this class, with Zeisloft and Ferrell both gone after next year, but adding Davis would be a significant boost to IU’s front court as well.
CURTIS JONES (6-3, 170 pounds, Huntington Prep, No. 58 nationally, No. 5 CG)
Bridges’ teammate at Huntington Prep, Jones is also a long-term IU target, and he visited Bloomington earlier this summer. Also a former teammate of Thomas Bryant, Jones is wanted by a number of high-major schools, including Georgetown, Wake Forest, Xavier and Maryland. Like Brown and Alkins, he’s a top guard target in a class that should help reload IU’s backcourt.
THON MAKER (7-0, 218 pounds, Orangeville Prep, No. 9 nationally, No. 2 PF)
Maker hardly needs an introduction. He’s one of the top prospects in his class, so much so that there continue to be questions about whether he’ll skip college altogether and go straight to the pros. Right now, he’s a member of the 2016 class, and Indiana is consistently mentioned as a school pursuing him heavily.
LAMAR STEVENS (6-6, 190 pounds, Haverford School, No. 76 nationally, No. 13 SF)
Stevens declared his recruitment “110 percent wide open” just last week, saying on Twitter that he’s looking for “any place that’s best for me.” Indiana offered a year ago, and has been trying to convince the Pennsylvania wing that Bloomington is that place ever since. Stevens has already visited Indiana once, unofficially, last season, watching the Hoosiers’ season opener against Mississippi Valley State.
IBI WATSON (6-4, 180 pounds, Pickerington (Ohio) Central, No. 210 nationally, No. 38 SG)
A fast-rising guard from the same Pickerington (Ohio) Central program that produced Jae’Sean Tate and Caris LeVert, Watson picked up an IU offer after an impressive showing at a tournament earlier this summer. He’s already visited Bloomington, and he’s high on the Hoosiers. Watson would also probably covet a Michigan offer, if one came.
Expected class size: TBD
Those aforementioned NBA decisions will trickle down into 2017, primarily regarding who elects to stay, and how they develop. Williams and Collin Hartman are the two current Hoosiers expected to run out of eligibility after the 2016-17 season.
ZACH GUNN (6-6, 200 pounds, Hamilton Southeastern, NR)
PAUL SCRUGGS (6-4, 200 pounds, Southport, No. 30 nationally, No. 6 PG)
KRIS WILKES (6-7, 190 pounds, North Central, No. 17 nationally, No. 4 SF)
We’re combining Wilkes, Scruggs and Gunn because they’re all Indianapolis-area prospects, they all play in the same AAU program and they all hold IU offers. Each is a distinct type of player, but all three are on the Hoosiers’ recruiting board in 2017, and well-acquainted both with IU’s staff and with Bloomington.
JAREN JACKSON (6-8, 175 pounds, Park Tudor, No. 64 nationally, No. 13 SF)
Jackson, another local prospect, is also a longtime IU target. The Park Tudor forward has offers from IU, Purdue and Butler, and his recruitment could wind up taking on an even broader Big Ten feel eventually. He’s undoubtedly one of the best prospects in the state in his class.
MICHAEL PORTER (6-9, 210 pounds, Columbia (Mo.) Father Tolton, No. 2 nationally, No. 1 SF)
Porter, who lived in Indianapolis for some time before moving to Columbia, Mo., is the No. 2 player in the country, according to 247Sports, and he’s high on Indiana. Rodney Perry, co-founder of Porter’s MoKan Elite AAU program, told The Star the talented wing/forward “has Indiana pretty high on his list.” Perry also said Porter is only in the early stages of his recruitment.
Follow Star reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.