Basketball Mailbag: April 28, 2015

You asked the questions, and I attempted to answer them. Here's the latest edition of our mailbag. Topics covered: Thon Maker's recruitment, the 2016 class and the rotation for next season.

The final evaluation period until July just closed on Sunday, and as I documented in my story yesterday, Indiana’s coaching staff was quite busy. You asked some good questions, and I did my best to answer them. Here’s a new mailbag. Enjoy.

Premium member rschaffn writes: I have a general question about our position with the 2016/2017 recruits. Which (if either) class are we in better shape with? While there's a lot of good players in 2016, it seems like the state of Indiana is loaded for 2017. Is IU in a firm position with both classes given the recent chatter about Crean's job? Answer however you see fit, but the general question I want answered (if possible) is do we have a chance at two monster classes in a row?

JUSTIN ALBERS writes: I don't see 2016 being a monster class for Indiana, in all honestly. I think it will end up being a solid class, but 2017 really has the potential of being a huge class if Indiana can remain in good shape with guys like Paul Scruggs, Kris Wilkes, Justin Roberts, Michael Porter, etc. In the state of Indiana, IU is obviously in better shape in with the 2017 class, and it’s a stronger overall class for the state. Tom Crean and his staff have recruited Scruggs and Wilkes as diligently as anybody for several years. But they're in good shape with several players in 2016 as well, namely Colorado big man De'Ron Davis and Brooklyn guard Rawle Alkins. They have also done a good job with Bruce Brown.

 

I have made a mess of answering your question, but I'll sum it up like this: IU is overall in better shape with 2016 at this point, but 2017 has a higher potential to be a monster class, if that makes sense. And as far as in-state kids, 2017 leads by far, because I don't see Eron Gordon or Joey Brunk ending up in Bloomington. 

Premium member GregGumbelsHairHat writes: Calipari isn't going to say he wants to sign three then only signs two. Saying one or two makes sense. Sell low and beat it. Mychal Mulder & Jamal Murray instead of Malik Newman is a net gain for KY. Newman you can point to Howland. That said, if KY closes with Cheick Diallo, Mychal Mulder and Jamal Murray, would you agree IU would be frontrunner for Thon Maker and ASU is second option? Obviously his recruiting situation is fluid. Any insight is appreciated.

ALBERS writes: You make good points, and your question is a great one. If Thon Maker is a one semester and done guy, like he wants to be, I think Arizona State is the front runner, and I have sources to back that opinion. He would most easily be able to step in midyear and play a lot of minutes without adjusting the chemistry of the team significantly. If he were to be willing to come for a full year, given the circumstances you laid out, I would think IU would be at the top of the list. I just don't see Thon going to IU for the second semester only.

Evan Daniels, who has covered Maker’s recruitment as well, if not better, than anyone, still isn’t convinced Maker won’t end up playing overseas, even though his guardian ruled that out recently. I tend to share that opinion. I’m not nearly as close to it as Evan, but I’ve also thought Maker was a strong candidate to play professionally overseas and forego college.

@megmonnier_rn on Twitter writes: when should we expect to hear final word on transfers?

ALBERS writes: This is a popular question right now. I would say sooner rather than later, and certainly before the start of the July evaluation period. If we just look at how it has been handled in the past, Jeremy Hollowell and Austin Etherington announced they would transfer in March, but Peter Jurkin didn’t transfer until June 28. So that leaves a pretty good amount of time. Obviously at least one more spot has to open up, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if two more open up because Indiana isn’t done recruiting in 2015.

@noahwhyde10 on Twitter writes: who are guys IU has best chance to land in 2016 class?

ALBERS writes: I’ll rank them like this:
1. Lamar Stevens
2. De’Ron Davis
3. Bruce Brown
4. Rawle Alkins
5. Joey Brunk

Obviously there are more than five targets in that class, but that’s my rough estimate as we stand right now. Stevens has always been high on the Hoosiers, and he’s a 6-foot-6 wing, the type of player Tom Crean has had great success in developing. Villanova is also in hot pursuit of Stevens, and others will join the race for him, but the Hoosiers are the team to beat right now.

Indiana has been consistent in its pursuit of Davis, and I think he’s the type of kid that means a lot to. I do think Texas will be a major factor with Shaka Smart at the helm, but IU remains in good shape there as well.

@KgSheward on Twitter writes: What are your early predictions on the depth of the rotation?

It should be the deepest team Indiana has had in the Tom Crean era. Think about it: The year IU was ranked No. 1 for much of the season, the Hoosiers weren’t that deep. When it came down to it, Will Sheehey was the only guy Crean really trusted off the bench. The starting five of Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Yogi Ferrell, Christian Watford and Cody Zeller was incredibly strong, but the team wasn’t that deep.

My early prediction for a starting five is:
1. Ferrell
2. James Blackmon Jr.
3. Troy Williams
4. Collin Hartman
5. Thomas Bryant

That would leave a bench rotation that looked like this:
6. Robert Johnson
7. Hanner Mosquera-Perea
8. Juwan Morgan
9. Nick Zeisloft
10. Emmitt Holt
11. Devin Davis
12. O.G. Anunoby

That’s pretty strong, no? Early in the season, I think Crean will go 11 or 12 deep, and then shorten the rotation to 9 or 10 in the Big Ten. But still, all of those guys can play. A second five of Johnson, Zeisloft, Anunoby, Morgan and Holt or Mosquera-Perea is pretty tough.


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