A flurry of news has been circulating in recruiting circles regarding 2017 5-star Kris Wilkes for a few days now, but today a number of major outlets went ahead and put it on record, like this tweet from Evan Daniels:
Five-star Kris Wilkes is announcing his college choice on Nov. 13th. His decision has been made. Bet the house on UCLA.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) October 31, 2016
Um, ok. That’s a well-respected name in the industry basically tying his credibility to Wilkes’ decision already being gift-wrapped in UCLA decor with a blue-and-gold bow on it. I am in no position to say otherwise, and unless something major happens, this recruitment appears to be all but over.
So, how are IU fans supposed to feel about this?
Yeah, this is far from ideal news. But please, please do not be a part of the inevitable contingent that shouts “TOM CREAN CAN’T RECRUIT INDIANA!” into the void. If there’s one thing Crean and his staff can objectively hang their hat on, it’s recruiting.
This news does hurt, though, especially because it feels like other recruits were cast aside in the pursuit of Wilkes, but Indiana has quietly built a very solid base for their 2017 class already in Justin Smith, Al Durham, and Clifton Moore, who in my opinion will be the “Where did this guy come from?” of this class. While Wilkes was the crown jewel of the remaining pile, there are still others to be had.
You could basically pick any year from the Tom Crean era and find a hidden gem in there somewhere. The Victor Oladipos, Will Sheeheys, and O.G. Anunobys of the world do not get the headlines when they commit, but they command attention once it really matters. So if there’s any solace in losing a hard-fought recruiting battle, just know that Tom Crean has a Plan B. And probably a Plan C, D, and E, for that matter.