Recruiting Check-In: Theo Pinson, Dante Exum, Goodluck Okonoboh, JaQuan Lyle

Theo Pinson


1)Not to count chickens before they hatch

2)I don't know what their opinions are really worth by way of predictive power

3) this by no means should be taken as authoritative, but there is a piece of interesting information within it:

"247" Analysts/Contributors are already anticipating that Theo Pinson will be coming to Indiana, and 4 of the contributors have made that prediction this week (did something noteworthy happen that I didn't hear about?) The interesting one to me is Adam Rowe. He is a "Duke Insider" and he made the IU prediction on 5/9. He wrote an article back in April entitled "Are things cooling off between Theo Pinson and Duke?"

I may have been oversimplifying, but the opinion I've gathered from following Pinson's recruitment is that Duke is the only school that has a serious chance of keeping him in North Carolina and Indiana was the only school that has a serious chance of taking him out of North Carolina; perhaps that wasn't oversimplifying after all, and if "Duke Insiders" are getting the feeling that Pinson and Duke are not a good match for one another, Indiana's position just became that much stronger.

Kenny Johnson, Tim Buckley, and Tom Crean have moved beyond the "Come to Indiana; we'll make you famous" stage and have been approaching him with active suggestions for tweaking and improving his game and demonstrating *how* he will be coached by the staff if he chooses Indiana. I don't think the coaching staff would be going that far out on a limb for him if he was not being heavily factored into future plans for the Hoosiers.

If you pay attention to my comments, I think that Pinson would be the most important, most influential recruiting grab on Tom Crean's career, even while taking into consideration Cody Zeller's importance to the program. That is not to say Theo will be the "best Indiana player ever"...he will have to put in a lot of work to earn that distinction...and Pinson's recruitment is definitely standing on the shoulders of the coaching staff's work with Oladipo, Sheehey, and Yogi (specifically his Strength and Conditioning regimen) but North Carolina high school basketball is pretty top heavy. They produce a low volume of very high quality recruits and then drop off precipitously. Whereas Indiana produces high school talent that could fill a dozen D1 starting lineups (3 or 4 of them with high major programs), leading to an expected exodus from players that just can't find spots on the top in-state roster, programs outside of North Carolina just don't pull top talent away from UNC, Duke, and NC State. Pinson would be a total recruiting coup for IU.

Theo has indicated that he will pick his college before his senior year starts, so expect to know sooner rather than later in the recruiting process whether Indiana will be an early title contender in the 2014-15 season.

Update: Theo Pinson will announce his college decision on Wednesday at 12:15PM.

Dante Exum is, as expected, quickly rising up everybody's boards with the exposure he gained by his performance at the Nike Hoop Summit. Dante recently picked up his fifth star, he has entered Rivals' "Top 20" (ESPN has not updated since February) and casual fan bases everywhere seem to have finally learned his name. All indications are that he is still "very impressed" with Indiana but with all the extra attention that's going to be coming his way over the course of his senior season, I think it's going to be important for the coaching staff to not assume that the recruiting work is completed.

I believe that Exum and Pinson together would create a formidable scoring tandem that would immediately spark legitimate talk for #6.

Update to Add: Exum's primary weaknesses have been scoring without bringing the ball up the court and shooting from outside. For the Nike Hoop Summit, the World Team moved him to the 2 to put Dennis Schroder at the point. Dante played well off the ball (although his highlights came in transition rather than in half-court sets) and see below for how he has improved his outside shooting.


Dante Exum 3-point shootaround before 2013 Nike Hoop Summit

Goodluck Okonoboh was extended an official offer by the Hoosiers back in April. He is regarded by most as the best shot blocker in the next class of recruits and possesses the defensive skills that everyone wishes Jurkin and Perea will eventually develop. It has been widely known that Vonleh and Okonoboh are very good friends and played AAU ball together. If we had 3 open spots in the upcoming recruiting class, pulling in Goodluck would be a no brainer. He is exceptionally good. I seriously hope that Perea and Jurkin both blow up for their sophomore seasons and the need for Okonoboh is somewhat diminished, but with Jurkin's injury history and exceptionally rough game he is looking more towards being a total bust than a contributor. The pair of our Project Bigs are quite the conundrum. Jurkin's game always seemed much too rough to me for CTC to take the leap that he did with him unless he truly had a scholarship to take on that big of a project...or if he and Perea were a package deal and Crean wanted Hanner just that badly. Perea was highly recruited by high major programs across the country for his shear athleticism, but it was always understood that as far as basketball goes, he is purely a project. I say we should definitely take a "wait and see" approach to how Perea and Jurkin progress through their sophomore seasons and see whether they really belong on Indiana hardwood. (Note: Goodluck Okonoboh played high school basketball with Nerlens Noel)

JaQuan Lyle is a Top 15 recruit from Bosse that everyone is likely very familiar with by now. He is comparable to Dante Exum from a talent standpoint with demonstrably better ball handling skills. I think the greatest concern that people have with JaQuan centers around his academics at the collegiate level. (Bosse is not known as a very good educational center, to put it nicely) He is not stupid by any means, and JaQuan is scheduled to take his SAT in June, which will give him a chance to prove that he deserves a degree from Indiana University. He recently trimmed his list to 6 teams (Indiana, Ohio State, Illinois, Louisville, Florida, and Tennessee) Noticeably absent from that list is Kentucky. JaQuan pays attention to his internet buzz and apparently Kentucky fans were rubbing him the wrong way with statements about "Lyle begging for a Kentucky offer...[but] UK knows he can't play point guard" and "He's too slow to play PG at the high D1 level" and "[Since he's not good enough to play PG for Kentucky], there are better options at wing" and "Prep school is [JaQuan's] only option to play D1 basketball." But, that's just Kentucky being Kentucky. I'm not really sure how high Lyle was on the Wildcats to begin with, but he finally saw UK for what they really are and decided to stay away from all that negativity and divisiveness.

Given the ability to take on a 4 player class, Lyle would easily have one of the spots. I think that Lyle is a better ballhandler than Exum and he is just as good at getting to the rim. I think the thing that separates the two is that Exum's jumper looks a bit more polished and his pull-up jumper is already a legitimate offensive weapon. I think that the Hoosiers can't really go wrong with either Exum or Lyle, but as of right now I think I want Crean to focus efforts on pulling Exum. His approach to the recruiting process seems to be a little bit more professional to me and Lyle seems to be loving getting all the attention he is getting. Pitino has stated in recent comments that Louisville is focusing on "one guard" and belief is that guard is JaQuan. If he would commit to Indiana tomorrow (and be serious about it) I think fans should welcome it, but my belief is that there is a greater chance of losing Lyle in the recruiting process than Exum.

So, you have seen my hopes for a "4 player recruiting class" (already considering Blackmon a Hoosier) for the 2014-15 season. We will likely not be able to take on 4 players, but as we have all been very keenly aware of lately, transfers happen. The priorities from top to bottom should be (and I think they are) Pinson, Exum, Okonoboh, Lyle. I don't think the coaching staff should really be spending any time with 2014 recruits outside of those four players.

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