As many of you have already heard, Indiana landed a commitment from a 7 foot prospect to start the weekend. Of course he chose the moment I went off the grid to make his announcement. But that's just me being grumpy for being 2 1/2 days behind the breaking news. Indiana and Tom Crean landed some of the post help they had been looking for in Arizona big man Jeremiah April.
April is a a legitimate 7 foot prospect out of Westwind Prep in Arizona. He's coming into his freshman season as an unrated prospect but a lot of the reports on him are promising. Different from some of the recent big man signings like Tijan Jobe and Bawa Muniru (Peter Jurkin doesn't count due to a bevy of injuries), April has been playing ball his entire life and highlight videos show that he's actually very coordinated for his size. At 235 lbs he's going to need to add some weight and strength, but Indiana now has a guy in the 2014 class that can scoop up a rebound and either run it out or turn and hit a streaking outlet pass. Something the Hoosiers desperately needed with the transfer of Luke Fischer.
By all means it appears he's still going to be a project for Indiana, but it's not a complete build like you see with a lot of the foreign big men we've seen on campus in recent years. It can't be stated enough how big of a deal it is that April has been playing basketball his entire life. It means he comes with certain instincts and awarenesses already intact. Those are things that can't be taught, only developed over time. Jeremiah April has the time under his belt already.
Probably most encouraging about the April commit besides the desperation of need at his position is the apparent personality and family he comes from. He's a hard worker and his family has instilled that into him. His mother was saying some great things to the media after Jeremiah's commitment. A lot of parents of athletes will pay lip service to the academic part of college sports, but with April's mother you believe it. It gives you a feeling of reassurance on a recruit when the appearance is that they come from a very strong family.
With the commitment of April, Indiana now has 4 members to its 2014 recruiting class and it likely isn't done. Crean and company have two scholarships left to give and knowing Crean's history those will go to someone. Already, Indiana has been in talks with Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson. A 6'9"forward that averaged 14 points and 7 rebounds in the ACC, he's likely to sit out a year before using up his final year of eligibility. He had shoulder surgery at the end of the year and wants to be completely healthy for his final season.
Some have questioned why we would pursue a player that will take up two years of a scholarship to only play one. The answer being that 2014 is unlikely to fill up with any more high quality players outside of a few options and the 2015 class doesn't appear to be one of major need or strength for Indiana. So bringing in Anderson to get a proven forward for a year in 2015 is a pretty good deal. The Hoosiers are gunning for a superstar 2016 class with 2015 being a supplement of 2-3 high quality players. Losing a scholarship for 2014 and 2015 with a proven commodity is well worth the price.
Finally, I would be that Indiana tries to jump in with Missouri signee Jakeenan Gant. Indiana was involved in his initial recruitment process before he committed to Frank Haith and Missouri. But Haith has moved on to Tulsa and Gant has a decision to make. The lead recruiter for Missouri on Gant is currently their interim head coach and the hiring process there will likely make or break Gant's decision. The 6'8" forward sits in most every rankings sites top 50. His skill set is best when he's attacking the basket but he's capable of stepping out and hitting jumpers as well. He wouldn't be your typical post player, but he meets the needs of that stretch four that you almost have to have to be successful in college basketball anymore.
Indiana's recruiting efforts are still going strong for 2014, but it's likely we're going to get another commitment from a guy like April. His commitment came out of the blue and the bevy of Indiana media hadn't picked up on this recruitment before it was over. The chances of that occurring again this late in the season is high. Things are very quick moving and fluid. But if there's something we've all learned with Crean and his unheralded recruiting history is that it works out much more than it doesn't.