It's been quite awhile since I've done a basketball recruiting mailbag, so we're overdue here with lots to get to. Enjoy.
@NoahWhyde writes: What 2015 kids does IU have best chance at as of right now?
JUSTIN ALBERS writes: This is become a hot topic simply because Indiana is without a committed recruit in the 2015 class. The Hoosiers are in very strong shape with both Shake Milton and Juwan Morgan, two MOKAN Elite teammates who will take official visits to Indiana together in September.
Other than those two, I would say IU is also in good shape with guard Terance Mann, guard Kenny Williams and guard Matt McQuaid, and also in pretty good shape with big man Nick Marshall. Those are the ones that really stick out right now. McQuaid is likely to take an official visit to Indiana, and given the connection between the Boo Williams program and IU in recent years, you have to think IU will get a visit for Kenny Williams as well.
Marshall and big man Thomas Bryant become important recruits because of Indiana's lack of depth inside. Caleb Swanigan is also a possibility in this class, but a less likely one. Indiana could benefit, though, by the fact that a close friend of Swanigan's, James Blackmon Jr., will be a freshman at IU this year. If Blackmon Jr. has a good year and goes hard after Swanigan, who knows what happens there.
@dungyots writes: Will Crean sign any recruits to play any of the forwards or center position? #iubb
ALBERS writes: I assume you mean in the 2015 class, and as I just mentioned above, there aren't a ton of targets at this point in that class, but there are a few. IU has really ramped up its pursuit of Marshall and Bryant after Raymond Spalding committed to Louisville, and it will be important to get visits set for one or both of those guys.
If I'm a betting man, I'd say yes, Crean will sign a big man in the 2015 class. Who will that be? I can't tell you that one.
@thielehpu13 writes: What do you expect the upcoming trip to be like and what as fan should we be expecting the team to get out of the trip?
ALBERS writes: That's a very good question, and thank you for asking it. I think the Canada trip will really help the team in a number of ways. First of all, it will just be good for the group to be on the road together in terms of bonding and growing closer together. This is a young team with a ton of newcomers, so that aspect of the trip is invaluable. There's something about making a road trip before the season starts that I really like for this team.
And then you have to consider the on-court part of it. This group has never played together before. The opportunity to play so many games in such a short time will be great for these guys. And the competition is very, very good. I think they'll return to Bloomington a much closer group with a better idea of what to expect when the season rolls around.
From a fan's perspective, even though you won't be able to watch the games on television or otherwise, it will be nice for you to hear stories and get updates on guys well before the season begins. You should gain a better understanding of what kind of lineups you may see early in the season, and get an idea how some of the freshmen and newcomers will fit in.
@hoosha61 writes: I know Zimmerman is a long shot, but this kid is a stud. Have we given up?
ALBERS writes: You're talking about 2015 center Stephen Zimmerman I assume, and if so, yes, he is a long shot. Zimmerman included Indiana in his final seven schools, but the Hoosiers will not get one of Zimmerman's five official visits. Tom Crean and his staff made a good run at the elite big man, but he will not end up at Indiana.
@Hoosier_BoardIU writes: Would Indiana be able to sign Milton OR Morgan? Or would they have to be a "package deal"?
ALBERS writes: That's another very good question. Morgan and Milton are friends and AAU teammates, and they are visiting Indiana officially together in September. Could they be a package deal? I certainly think that they could. Milton told me as much back in June when I asked him the question.
But I don't think they have to be, and I don't think Indiana has to land both to land one. While Morgan and Milton are friends, it's not like they live in the same neighborhood or anything like that, like the situation we discussed last year involving Robert Johnson and Devin Robinson. Milton lives in Oklahoma and Morgan lives in Missouri. But the fact they will be visiting campus together for a second time tells me they at least have some interest in playing together and that a package deal could be a possibility.