The more I see of the 2017 class in Indiana – including Fort Wayne Snider’s 6-11 Malik Williams this weekend – the more I like its elite players at the top and overall depth.
This class could be similar, potentially perhaps even better, than the 2012 crop that produced Gary Harris, Yogi Ferrell, R.J. Hunter, Kellen Dunham, Glenn Robinson III. The 2017 class – again, potentially – could match 2012 for high-end talent while producing similar depth. Consider:
• In the composite rankings compiled by 247sports.com for the class, North Central’s Kris Wilkes (No. 19), Southport’s Paul Scruggs (No. 25), Park Tudor’s Jaren Jackson Jr. (No. 38), Williams (No. 87), La Lumiere’s Isaiah Coleman-Lands (No. 97), Pike’s Justin Roberts (No. 110) are all nationally-ranked. That doesn’t even include Hamilton Southeastern standout Zach Gunn, who owns offers from Butler, Indiana and IUPUI.
Recruiting rankings aren’t the be-all, end-all but they do at least paint a picture of the class. And I’d say at least Scruggs and Williams are likely to end up several notches higher in those rankings by the time they are done with high school.
But like the 2012 class, it’s the rest of the class that could make 2017 special. Here are a few guys I’ve seen that help make 2017 an intriguing group:
Jalen Adaway, Logansport: The 6-4 Adaway is a serious athlete who recently picked up an offer from IUPUI. He’s getting high-major interest, including Butler, Indiana and Purdue.
Mark Albers, Pendleton Heights: Need a shooter? The 6-3 Albers is one of the best around.
Jermaine Cousinard, East Chicago Central: The 6-2 guard sometimes took a back seat to Hyron Edwards and Damien Jefferson on his high school team, but he can fill it up.
Michael Ertel, Mt. Vernon: The point guard is a tough competitor. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the mix for Indiana All-Stars in a couple years.
Ra Kpedi, Lawrence North: The 6-8 forward has come a long way in a year.
Jaylen Minnett, Terre Haute South: The 6-1 guard can really shoot it.
Cooper Neese, Cloverdale: The guard was impressive in the regional against Crispus Attucks, hitting seven 3s and finishing with 34 points.
Jack Nunge, Castle: The 6-8 Nunge has some mid-major and high-major interest.
Erick Shepherd, Mt. Vernon: The 6-4 Shepherd isn’t shy about going inside but also has a nice touch on his jumper.
Kobe Webster, Park Tudor: The 5-10 guard has all the intangibles coaches like.
That’s just a start. It’ll be fun to see how the 2017 class develops.
• Speaking of Williams, it’s surprising to me that he only has two offers so far – from Indiana and Toledo. He’s 6-11 and does a great job getting up and down the court. He could be more assertive defensively and once he adds a little more muscle – his goal is to add 15 pounds before his junior season – he’ll be able to finish through contact.
Butler, Kentucky, Purdue, Vanderbilt and Xavier are other schools with interest in Williams.
“Those are things you can’t teach,” his AAU coach, Juan Gorman, said of Williams’ ability to run the floor at his size. “You can get in the gym and do other things but you can’t teach that. That’s why his ceiling is so high. He’s getting better. His first couple tournaments (this spring), he’s played solid. When we play teams that have other bigs, that’s when you see the best of him. He’s there, it’s just a consistency thing.”
•Reading between the lines a bit, it sure sounds like Ohio native Xavier Simpson – a point guard target for Butler and Purdue in the 2016 class – likes Xavier. He didn’t go as far to say he’s leaning that direction, but is coming off a weekend visit to Xavier.
“They stand high,” Simpson said. “They’ve been on me for a while and have shown a lot of loyalty. They’ve definitely been there and been supporting me. I really like Xavier.”
Simpson said he doesn’t have any visits planned.
• I don’t know what level he’ll end up, but Fort Wayne Carroll guard Jacob Redding (2017) was impressive in a couple of games. He can knock down the 3 and handle the ball. Will be a name to watch. … Isaac Humphries, a 6-10 center from La Lumiere via Australia, played alongside Tech guard C.J. Walker and Spiece Indy Heat. Humphries, ranked No. 28 by Rivals in 2016, has great hands for a big man. Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois and New Mexico are among several schools tracking Humphries.
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.