Indiana dipped into Vermont Academy’s talent pool nearly a year ago, adding Emmitt Holt before he even played a game for the New England prep school.
Now, the Hoosiers want one of Holt’s would-have-been teammates.
Bruce Brown, a top-50 combo guard who plays for both Vermont Academy and the prestigious BABC AAU program, is also a top target for IU in 2016. Alongside the likes of Purdue, Michigan and Texas, the Hoosiers have made Brown a priority in the rising senior class.
Brown has reciprocal interest.
“My guess will be he’ll take three or four visits when school starts, and my guess is the Hoosiers will be one of them,” said Leo Papile, Brown’s coach with BABC.
Indiana has been involved since September of last year, when the Hoosiers began tracking Brown through open gyms at Vermont Academy.
According to Alex Popp, Brown’s coach at the NEPSAC school, Indiana’s recruiting pitch has covered all bases — national exposure, player development, program tradition and Big Ten basketball. He said Brown has built a good relationship with coach Tom Crean and his staff, including assistant coach Chuck Martin.
The Hoosiers aren’t alone in trying to lure Brown to the Big Ten, however. Papile said Michigan and Purdue have both been heavily involved with the 6-4 guard, as have been the Longhorns.
Popp also mentioned SMU, Georgetown, UMass, Minnesota, Texas Tech and Auburn as schools that have been “steady” in Brown’s recruitment.
A promising football player before he moved to Vermont Academy and took up basketball full-time, Brown has built a reputation for hard work, one Papile said BABC works to establish for all of its players.
“If you want to play here, you have to be able to do that and compete,” Papile said. “We press the whole game, every game.”
But Brown — who Papile said is already physically advanced for his age — has turned himself into what Papile termed a “quarterback” in the backcourt.
“He was a straight wing player,” Papile said. “Now he’s advanced to the point where I would call him on the verge of being a combo (guard). If you run sets up top for him, he can run them for you.”
Papile said Brown’s next challenge will be to develop more consistency from behind the 3-point line, a development in his game that Papile already sees taking shape.
Indiana has at least three spots open in its 2016 class, and an obvious need at guard, with both Nick Zeisloft and Yogi Ferrell graduating after this season.
Brown would seem to fit the profile of a Tom Crean guard — physical and tough, with the ability to play multiple backcourt positions.
But Papile added that Brown isn’t letting his recruitment command too much of his attention.
“He never really even talks too much about recruiting,” Papile said. “I think he’s just one of those guys that enjoys spending the day going to school, playing ball, spending time with his family.”
BABC has stops left in Los Angeles and Las Vegas this summer, and Indiana’s staff already made him a priority at Peach Jam earlier in July.
Their interest is long-standing, and it shows no signs of abating.
“I would say they put a target on him as a priority as he entered his junior year last September,” Papile said.
Follow Star reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.