No Waiting Around in Indiana

Early commitments are not necessarily in style across the country, but in the state of Indiana highly rated prospects are flying off the board early and often.

The state of Indiana is in the middle of an incredible talent boom. Numerous kids in each grade ranging from freshman to senior are considered amongst the best in the nation at their age level. However as quickly as these talents are emerging on college radars, they seem to be committing.

In some areas of the country, such as the Northeast, early commitments are few and far between. That also tends to be the case out West, but in the state of Indiana early commitments are the norm.

While obviously there are some high profile prospects who decide to wait things out, numerous kids are making college decisions before their junior season, and some are doing it as freshmen. In the last two weeks alone, three kids from Indiana who are starting their sophomore seasons on the hardwood issued verbal commitments.

Currently less than 10 kids from the 2013 class have made their commitment to college programs, and three of them are from the state of Indiana. Excluding Khem Birch who has re-classified to 2011, in the current top 75 for 2012, 12 kids have made verbal commitments. Of those 12, four of them attend high school in Indiana.

Collin Hartman
That doesn't even include Raphael Davis who is just outside the rankings, and Peter Jurkin who also is just outside the rankings and attends high school in North Carolina but lists his home address as Bloomington, Indiana.

Now the question is why do early verbal commitments happen at such a higher rate in Indiana than any other state in the country.

"There is so much talent in the state and scholarships are going out, so the kids know that the powerhouse schools in Indiana are going to move on to the next guy if they don't commit early," said Spiece Indy Heat Coach Jared Quarles who has had Davis make a commitment after his freshman year and Austin Burgett make his decision following his sophomore year.

For Matt Green who coaches with the Eric Gordon All-Stars, he sees it as a credit to the job being done by the coaches within the state's borders.

"It is kind of weird because most of the big time recruits lately have left the state of Indiana, but for some reason now these guys see something in Matt Painter, Tom Crean, and Brad Stevens and want to stick around the state of Indiana," said Green.

He continued, "The kids and their parents start to realize early on that why would we want to leave the state when we have the option to stay close to home and with the way the in-state schools are winning."

Over the past few months Indiana Elite has had numerous players make early commitments. According to the club's program director and coach Mike Fox, he feels it is somewhat of a cyclical thing.

"I think maybe it is a situation that is an anomaly right now," Fox explained. "With Cody Zeller's commitment, several other commitments kind of snowballed so that they wouldn't be left out. I think that the other kids are starting to see fewer spots available, so kids are looking at those choices right away. Guys across the country might not be feeling the same pressure as the Indiana kids if they want to stay in-state or be close to home."

Last year this time Gary Harris only had scholarship offers from IUPUI and Xavier. Other wings in the 2012 class had not only racked up double-digit scholarship offers, but had also made commitments. Now Harris is the top ranked player in the state. With that there is an obvious danger to taking kids so early for schools recruiting kids in Indiana.

"It is always a risk," said Green. "You never know what the final product is going to be when you take a kid that early. I think all of the schools have missed on somebody, and then they all have also landed some surprises."

He went on to say, "You never know who is going to pan out. Who would have thought Gordon Hayward was going to pan out the way he did at Butler, and he was a lottery pick. It is risky, but it is almost at that point where unless you're John Wall or someone like that, they are all risky."

Fox also echoed those sentiments, and said that it is a risk for the school and the player to make the decision so early.

"The danger is obviously if you get a commitment from a kid who is really young and he can't play at the high-major level, you either have to drop the kid or the kid is going to go to a school that he will eventually have to transfer out of," said Fox. "It is a danger you face both ways either offering a kid and taking a commitment early or waiting too long and missing out on a kid because of it."

Raphael Davis
Even with the obvious danger of committing early, kids in Indiana seem to be doing it at a prolific level. According to coaches from all three AAU organizations, each situation is different and if a kid comes to them about making a decision early it isn't something they would discourage.

"Sometimes kids have their minds made up because they want to stay close to home, because they want their family to see them play, and that type of thing," said Quarles. "If you are dealing with a kid who that isn't important to, you want him to have all the information that he can have. As a mentor that is what you want to make sure happens. You want to make sure that the kid and his family have dotted all the I's and crossed all the T's."

Green echoes those sentiments about how he and the coaches in his organization handle things.

"Me and the guys in the Eric Gordon organization, we will never try to tell a kid where to go," said Green. "We will only give information that we have that we think helps them out. If a kid asks me a particular question or my opinion, I will do it, but I only try to give them background information."

In fact, Green thinks the early decisions from some can really have a positive impact for other kids in the state.

"I would never tell a kid it is too early or he should wait," Green commented. "I think some kids are in a great position because of other kids deciding early. I think Ronnie Johnson is going to blow up. Now he is getting high-major looks whereas before it was all mid-majors. Some kids it helps out to decide early, some kids it doesn't. Everybody's recruiting process is just different."

In general Fox tries to stay out of a kid's decision making process; though he will definitely advise a family to make sure they are extremely comfortable with the school they are deciding on.

"I try to stay out of that," said Fox of a kid making an early decision. "I think it is a family decision. I don't try to put my thought process into a kid's decision. It is up to a family and their comfort level. I don't have an expectation level for a kid to commit early, but at the same time I wouldn't talk a kid out of committing early if that is what he and his family want to do."

While none of the coaches around the state seem to be encouraging or discouraging early commitments, kids from Indiana are committing early at a rapid pace.

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