Bryant, a McDonald’s All-American ranked No. 33 overall in the nation by Scout.com, is the third member of IU’s 2015 recruiting class. He joins O.G. Anunoby and Juwan Morgan in the class.
At 6-10, 225 pounds, Bryant gives Indiana exactly what it didn’t have a year ago – a presence in the post.
Bryant is the 29th McDonald’s All-American all-time to play for the Hoosiers and marks the fifth year in a row that Indiana has signed a McDonald’s All-American. The others were Cody Zeller, Yogi Ferrell, Noah Vonleh and James Blackmon Jr.
IU coach Tom Crean told reporters Wednesday that Bryant’s signing was a transformative sign for the program.
”Getting into another part of the country and getting a guy that is not only an excellent player but somebody that comes in here with an infectious attitude and infectious energy (was big). That’s exactly what we needed.
“We needed the presence of an inside player, that’s obvious. But he’s so much more than that. There are some tremendous qualities about him. His mother, Linda Bryant, has done such a phenomenal job of raising him as a respectful, caring, thoughtful person that brings a lot of personality which is something I thought our team really needed.’’
Crean said that Bryant’s personality reminds him of former IU standout Victor Oladipo, who ironically just arrived back in Bloomington Tuesday and will begin conducting offseason workouts with IU beginning Wednesday. Crean said that Oladipo was always someone that got others so much more excited to be doing what they’re doing. He said Bryant has those same qualities.
Crean was in Huntington, W.V. visiting with Bryant on Tuesday. He is finishing his senior year at Huntington Prep. He averaged 17.3 points, 11.6 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots there last season.
“I was with (Bryant) yesterday and that’s exactly how he is when you’re watching him play or you’re sitting there talking to him about what he has to get better at,’’ Crean said. “He’s a great teammate. He’s like the pied piper of that area whether it be little kids, or parents of little kids, they just gravitate to him.’’
Crean said he has also seen some special intangibles when it comes to Bryant, the person.
“He’s one of those guys that he gets as excited when his teammates make a play, whether it’s one of the better players or not than he does when he does, and that’s when you see you’ve got a great teammate,’’ Crean said. “Not just a great teammate when it’s just going well for him but a great teammate when it’s going well for somebody else.
For Crean that’s where the transformative part comes through with Bryant.
“That’s rare in a young player but that’s exactly what we feel like we’re getting right now,’’ Crean said. “I love his improvement. I think he has improved very much as a shooter. He has improved with his patience around the basket and his quickness in the post. He’s getting rebounds more and more and he can get out of his area. He really can run the court and that was one thing we had really missed tremendously the last two years since Cody has been gone.’’
Crean said Bryant still has some things to work on and he and his staff are eager to begin working with the freshman big man this summer.
“I think the things were going to continue to work on with him when he gets in here this summer is to continue to build on that footwork,’’ Crean said. “We have to help him learn how to play out of traps and traffic around the basket, learn how to create even more space with his size, help him get lower and learn how to run full speed like he’s capable of all the time.’’
Crean added that a lot of what IU has been doing in individual workouts this spring (the 11th workout was Wednesday) has been with Bryant in mind. Specifically, drills on feeding the post and utilizing a legitimate big man again.p>