Tom Crean hit the adidas Invitational hard, as you knew he would. The Indiana coach took maximum advantage of this annual basketball event, which brings in many of the top players in the nation.
So when IU commitments Yogi Ferrell, Hanner Perea and Jeremy Hollowell went toe-to-toe with powerhouse teams from California and Connecticut on Wednesday at Indianapolis North Central, Crean was there on the front row. Assistant coaches Tim Buckley and Steve McClain also were highly visible spectators.
Crean and his staff weren’t alone in conspicuous observance. High-profile coaches such as Kentucky’s John Calipari, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Duke’s Coach K, Arizona’s Sean Miller, St. John’s Steve Lavin, New Mexico’s Steve Alford and a lot more were on hand to evaluate and, yes, be seen. It’s a big part of the recruiting game, especially since coaches aren’t allowed to contact players during this time.
Crean was there to see more than his three main guys from the Class of 2012. For instance, Collin Hartman scored 22 points to least the Eric Gordon All-Stars over Dream Vision 82-75. Hartman is from Indianapolis Cathedral and is ranked No. 82 in the Class of 2013. He’s also one of two players from that class who have committed to IU. The other is Devin Davis from Warren Central. He’s ranked No. 55.
As far as who else IU is looking at in the classes of 2013 and 2014, there was plenty to choose from.
Point guard options for the 2013 class were Jaylon Brown (he had 11 points in one game) and Demetrius Jackson (he had 21 points in one game), plus small forwards Stephen Domingo (he totaled 31 points in two games) and Brannen Green (more on him in a moment).
The Spiece Indy Heat team had 2014 prospects P.J. Thompson, Trevon Bluiett and Jaquan Lyle. James Blackmon and Trey Lyles also are on that team, but have already committed to IU.
Don’t be surprised if Georgia forward Brannen Greene gets an offer from IU. He looked very good for his Atlanta Celtics team and scored 19 points in an 87-77 victory over Urban DFW Elite.
The 6-7 Greene already has offers from Louisville, Memphis, Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Florida State and Tennessee. He’s getting long looks from Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky and, yes, Indiana.
Indiana Elite/Team Indiana is not the squad everyone expected. Why? Because the team, which was set to be led by five IU committed players, is playing with just three. Center Peter Jurkin is out with a leg injury. Combo guard Ron Patterson bolted after a May Classic defeat and now plays for Indiana Elite One.
That’s part of the reason why Indiana Elite/Team Indiana failed to win a tournament in April and May. Vulnerability seemed to resurface when it blew a big lead and lost to Dream Vision in Wednesday’s opening game of the adidas Invitational. But the team rebounded to handle a strong Connecticut club that included Andre Drummond, the nation’s second-ranked player in the Class of 2012.
Having only three Hoosier commitments doesn’t bother Hanner Perea, in part because he’s one of them.
“I know we won’t be perfect,” he said. “We just need to play through everything. We need to keep playing and keep getting better.”
Teammate Yogi Ferrell ageed.
“Yeah, it’s kind of disappointing (that all five guys aren’t playing), but I wish the best for Ron, and Peter is still hurt and can’t play. I don’t think it will hurt us too much as far as Indiana. We still work with what we have.”
The fact that work comes at an event such as the adidas Invitational, which brings most of the top players and coaches in the country, is an added bonus.
“It’s great,” Ferrell said. “It’s a once in a lifetime thing. You don’t get to play against the top players in the country every day. We’ll take each opportunity and try to make the best of it.”
Because it's playing in a Super Pool with three other strong teams, it will advance to pool play no matter what happens in its final pool game today against Atlanta Celtics 17U.
V.J. Beachem put out the word -- he wants an offer from Indiana.
Beachem is a standout guard on the Eric Gordon All-Star squad that includes a couple of Hoosier commitments in the Class of 2013 in Collin Hartman and Devin Davis. He’s a 6-7 guy who is ranked No. 42 nationally. He’s moved to New Haven High School after his old school, Harding, closed because of budget woes in the school corporation.
Purdue and Butler have offered him. Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan and Michigan State are among the schools recruiting him.
Another Eric Gordon All-Star teammate, Basil Smotherman, has committed to Purdue and is pushing Beachem to choose the Boilers.
Beachem scored 16 points in a victory over New Heights NYC Wednesday. Painter, Crean, Ohio State’s Thad Matta, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Butler’s Brad Stevens watched.
Spiece Indy Heat seemed outgunned. Blackmon Jr. wasn’t there. Neither was Lyles. That meant the team would be without a pair of IU commitments for the Class of 2014.
So what happened? Trevon Bluiett blew up -- in a good way. He had 29 points in a 59-54 victory over Garner Road Elite. He’s good now and certain to get better. Indiana already has offered him a scholarship. Notre Dame is among the other schools recruiting him.
Blackmon was missing because he was attending the funeral of the Hatch family from Fort Wayne. Lyles was at another basketball event.