Friday, July 8, 2011

IU Recruits Winning Big; Wilson Adds Running Back; And More

In the end with all this Indiana basketball recruiting, it’s about winning. It doesn’t matter where the Hoosiers' Class of 2012 is ranked or how high guys such as Hanner Perea, Yogi Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell are rated.

Can they win? When they get to Indiana, will they help restore the Cream ‘n Crimson tradition?

We won’t know that until they get to IU, but we can get an indication from their play in high school and travel ball.

At the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis, it looks like they’ve finally gotten a handle on this winning thing.

Much has been made of the fact that their travel team, Indiana Elite/Team Indiana didn’t win a tournament in the spring. There were a lot of factors in that, primarly that the squads they went against were really, really good.

Well, the Super Pool they were in at the adidas Invitational was ridiculously tough. There was Dream Vision with the nation’s No. 1 player, Shabazz Muhammand. There was Connecticut with No. 2 Andre Drummond, a guy so big you can’t believe he’s still a teen ager. There was a talented Atlanta Celtics squad.

Indiana Elite went 2-1 against them after roughing up the Atlanta Celtics 72-60 on Thursday and could have/should have beaten Dream Vision. It blew a 14-point second-half lead, mostly because Muhammad went all Kobe Bryant with 39 points.

Perea totaled 15 points against the Atlanta Celtics. Ferrell added 10 points. Hollowell had a team-high 18 points, which continued his big-scoring efforts in this event.

Indiana Elite/Team Indiana coach Mark Adams added some guards to help take the pressure off Ferrell, and that helped, but this squad will go as far as Ferrell, Perea and Hollowell will lead them. They are doing the job and if the winning continues in Indianapolis and the rest of the month, look out. It will bode very well for when they finally join the Hoosiers.


IU coach Tom Crean continues to cover all recruiting bases. On Thursday he was in Akron for the LeBron James Skill Academy to check out super star recruits Gary Harris and Mitch McGary, among others. Yes, Purdue coach Matt Painter was there, as well, so the recruiting battle continues.

The Hoosiers, meanwhile, continue to check out point guards. They really don’t have a true point guard on the current roster (Jordan Hulls comes the closest, but they’ll run a mix of Hulls, Verdell Jones and combo guard Remy Abell this season). Ferrell will have the role for the Class of 2012, but Crean and his staff are looking for 2013 help.

It could come from Demetrius Jackson out of Mishawaka Marian or Derreck Walton out of Michigan. Jackson scored 21 and 28 points in adidas Invitational games. He’s been offered by Michigan and Xavier, and is rated No. 71 in the class. Walton is from Detroit and had 35 points against Speice Indy Heat. He’s rated No. 88. Michigan has offered Walton, and Michigan State could be next.


Just when you thought IU football coach Kevin Wilson was done adding to his group of 2011 newcomers, here comes a junior college twist.

Stephen Houston, who thrived during his one year as a running back at Independence (Kansas) Community College, has joined the IU football program.

What does it mean?

For starters, it gives the position some depth, crucial given the knee injuries that have staggered the prospects. Darius Willis remains in the uncertain category after last season’s knee surgery, so finding a mature running back was important.

Is Houston that guy?

Well, he’s 6-2 and 220 pounds, so he has good size. At Independence last season he rushed for 1,082 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 6.6 yards a carry.

As a high school senior in Ohio he rushed for 887 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also was a very good hurdler in track. As a two-sport athlete, he has the kind of athleticism you want in a running back.

Still, we won’t know how much he’ll help this season, if he can help at all, until fall camp begins next month.


Can Damarlo Belcher be the next Fred Biletnikoff?

Maybe, but first you have to ask yourself, who is Fred Biletnikoff. For those of a certain age, which means you remember when Johnny Quest ruled Saturday morning cartoons, Biletnikoff links back to a hard-hitting past. He was an outstanding receiver for the Oakland Raiders and Florida State, setting a standard the college game still honors.

Belcher is in the running for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes annually to the nation’s top receiver. He had 78 catches last season, second in school history to James Hardy’s 79. He led the Big Ten in receptions. He is the 15th Hoosier to reach 100 career catches and 1,000 career yards. He ranks third in school history with 164 catches and sxith with 1,939 yards.

Hardy has the record with 191 catches for 2,740 yards.

Also, tight end Ted Bolser is on the watch list for the John Mackey Award, given annually to the nation’s top tight end. He had 27 catches for 407 yards and five touchdowns last season as a freshman.

John Mackey was an All-Pro tight end for the then Baltimore Colts. He died recently after suffering from dementia.

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