While there somehow is STILL a contingent of the Indiana fanbase calling for Tom Crean to be fired, the man will definitely be roaming the sidelines for IU for the foreseeable future. For all of the doubters who deny the outstanding work Crean has done molding his current roster, something that is undeniable is his tenacity and refusal to be outworked when it comes to recruiting. With the 2016 recruiting class winding down, let's highlight the work Crean and his assistants have already put in for some of the top names in the class of 2017.
The state of Indiana looks to be very, very strong, with a number of 4-star and 5-star prospects getting serious consideration from the top programs across the country. As to be expected, though, the IU staff continues to expand their national presence, and are looking at (or have received commitments from already) a number of high-major players from across the country.
Let's get to it and (re)introduce the names that you will start to hear more and more of over the upcoming months.
We start with the lone commit of the class to date, Al Durham. The 6'4" CG out of Berkmar HS (GA) was not a big name on recruiting lists, but is very typical of a Tom Crean signing. Equipped with a very pretty jump shot, Durham has quick hands and also excels at setting up his teammates. Currently ranked #178 in the class of 2017, expect him to make his way up the rankings as scouts begin to take notice of what Crean has already seen in him.
The first of three Indianapolis-area kids that were offered by IU before playing in a high school game, Paul Scruggs has very much validated his status as a can't-miss college prospect. Currently ranked #27 overall in his class, the 6'3" Scruggs just misses out on 5-star status, but that may not be for long, as he is every bit as good as that ranking suggests. A dominant force for a point guard, Scruggs can get to the hoop at will, as well as kill you from the outside. He is being sought after by dozens of schools, but it appears that his decision will come down to Indiana, Kansas, and Michigan State. Also of note, former Hoosier Kyle Taber is an assistant coach for Scruggs' Southport team.
Probably my favorite mixtape posted on this primer, mostly because smooth jazz backing a highlight tape is an objectively hilarious choice.
Gunn, a 6'5" wing, is the second of the three Indy players offered before their freshman seasons, and there is a lot to like about his game. Not a dominant athlete, Gunn still has put up gaudy numbers at the high school level due to his shooting prowess. However, some scouts wonder whether Indiana's interest in Gunn is overstated, as his high major offers have lagged. Gunn has also been linked to Butler on several occasions.
Ah, the crown jewel of the 2017 class. Wilkes, a 6'7", 190 lb SF out of North Central, is the final of the three prospects Crean offered way back in 2013. A bonafide 5-star prospect, it's no surprise that Wilkes is attracting all the major players, notably UK and Kansas, as well as a horde of others. Not a lot to say about Wilkes that the video below doesn't already show, but he can do it all and will be an instant game-changer for whatever school he eventually goes to. Also of note, Wilkes is a superb student, so the offers from elite academic schools such as Stanford and Vanderbilt should not be taken lightly.
The recruitment of Malik Williams blew up last year, and the Fort Wayne product has not let up ever since. The 6'11" forward has a very versatile game for someone of his size, and as a result he has consistently produced for his Snider team. Williams' recruitment is one to keep an eye on, as he just visited Bloomington for the IU-Purdue game, and there was chatter of him possibly pulling the trigger for Indiana. The immediacy of that talk has subsided, but with Tom Crean going to check out Williams' games on multiple occasions so far in 2016, it's clear that he is a priority for the Hoosiers in 2017.
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jackson Jr., a 6'9" forward out of Park Tudor in Indianapolis, is a very promising 4-star prospect that has been playing extremely well as of late. Jackson Jr. has offers from all of the heavy hitters in the Big Ten, as well as Georgetown, where his father played before going on to a very solid NBA career.
Jackson Jr. watches Indiana frequently, and has expressed his approval of Thomas Bryant and his usage in Indiana's offense.
Sometimes it's just nice to dream, you know? Michael Porter, consensus 5-star and owner of the best high school dunk of all time, is the full package. As a 6'9" wing full of explosiveness and polish, he will instantly make a team relevant and is being recruited by pretty much everyone. There's reason to hope though! The 6'9" Porter grew up in Indiana until his father took a job at Mizzou, and lists Indiana among his 8 finalists, which includes the likes of Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, UCLA, and more.
Being the younger brother of the most polarizing prospect in recent memory is sure to have its pros and cons. Matur Maker, the 6'10" younger brother of Thon, is doing his part to establish himself by stepping out of the oversized shadow of his sibling. While he isn't the same level of prospect as Thon, Matur has a very enviable skillset, and would be a welcome addition to any high-major team. Tom Crean noticed this and offer Matur Maker early, hoping to make an impression before other schools inevitably get involved.
As always, keep up to date with the CQ Basketball Recruiting Board.