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Here is the full transcript of our Q&A with Evan Daniels, Scout.com Director of Basketball Recruiting.
Q- Having three big men now under Tom Crean that really emerged nationally and in NBA stock. (Zeller, Vonleh, Bryant. How much does that help Indiana in battling KU, UK, Duke, UNC etc for the Mo Bambas, Nick Richards, etc.??
A: Anytime you have, not only, a track record of players in your program making it in the NBA, but also developing them and helping them get there, it’s a big deal. It’s a selling point. I’m sure that Crean and his staff are pushing that and selling Bamba, Richards and other potential recruits on it as well. Now that list of schools you mentioned certainly has put their fair share of players in the NBA too, so you have to keep that in mind. These kids have a goal of playing in the NBA and anytime you can show them past success and history of putting players at their position in the NBA, it’s a major selling point.
Q - Two Big Ten titles now in four years. Does that translate on the trail with prospects?
A: Of course it does. Winning always helps. Indiana is a major brand. It has been for a long time. Much like pitching success with putting players in the NBA, it’s something that I’m sure the Indiana staff is saying to potential recruits that are considering other schools in their league. Most recruits pay attention to results. Will the fact that they’ve won two Big Ten titles get them a specific recruit? Who knows. But winning is always part of the equation.
Q - Is there is a risk of moving to a more national focus like a Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, etc, and losing out on quality high major local talent? More relevant this year as Indiana has four in-state guys that are legitimate McD's AA candidates.
I think you have to find a balance between both, especially if you’re in a state with a lot of local talent. The truth is, at Indiana, where there is a ton of in-state talent, they’ll never be able to get all the local guys, partly because there are so many high-major programs recruiting the area. You just can’t take everyone. But also think Indiana should put a premium on getting the right guys from the area. With all that said, the reality is, as long as you gets players and win, it doesn’t really matter where they come from.
Q - Are there some program that manage well that tricky balance of keeping the local talent happy and still having success outside their region? Any keys there making that happen?
I think the team that comes immediately to mind would be Washington. They do a terrific job of keeping top tier local talent home. Dejounte Murray is a great example of that. Adding Jaylen Nowell on Wednesday is an example of that. But then he went out and picked up the No. 1 point guard in the country in Markelle Fultz in the 2016 recruiting class. Part of it is relationship building and not just with the recruit, but with people in that area and around that particular kid. Every recruitment is different with different factors and people involved. But you can have relationships in place that help you in the future.
In terms of keeping local talent happy, I think when recruiting locally you can have to be selective because a lot of times top players come from the same AAU teams and high school teams. You have to be careful because if a player doesn’t perform to a level those coaches think they should in college it could hinder that team with the next highly-touted player you try and recruit from that program the next time around.
Q - Chuck Martin has had a real impact on the recruiting trail in his short time at Indiana. What makes him a formidable recruiter?
Keep in mind this isn’t the first time Chuck Martin has had success on the recruiting trail. He played a role in Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans ending up at Memphis when he was an assistant there. Obviously he did a great job on Thomas Bryant at IU among others. What makes him good is his relationships. He’s tied in. But also he works extremely hard, doesn’t waste time and does a good job of identifying and evaluating talent that fits what his boss is looking for.
Q – What attributes of Tom Crean help him on the recruiting trail?
A: I think the first things that come to mind are his energy, intensity and passion for the game, his players and his program. You can see it on the court when he’s coaching. That resonates with recruits and the coaches of the recruits. Tom Crean has had a history of success and a history of helping players get better and I think those are great selling points for him. Also, he is a tireless worker that pours into his job, his players and recruiting.
Q - Can you jump in with a rising senior in July and still have a legitimate shot?
Certainly. Andrew Jones is a great example of that last year, although he didn’t really breakout until July. But Texas I don’t believe Texas was recruiting him when the July evaluation periods started. Wenyen Gabriel wasn’t being recruited by Kentucky last year July. Duke wasn’t doing much with Javin DeLaurier until after July. There’s plenty of examples that come to mind. I think also the recruiting process has gotten pushed back. Five or six years ago the fad was to commit early, now it’s getting pushed back and more players are making their decisions in the fall. So to answer your question, programs can 100-percent do that.
Q - Any 2017 player out there that Indiana might have a better shot at than people might be thinking today?
This is a tough question. Maybe a guy that comes to mind is 2017 shooter Andrew Platek. Indiana is certainly involved with him and have had him on campus.
Q - What stands out to you about the Class of 2017? How about what you now know about the Class of 2018?
The 2017 class doesn’t have the top tier depth that the 2016 class did, but it does have good all around depth, as there are a number of players that I’ve evaluated as high major minus type players outside of the top 100. It’s a pretty strong group that should help out college basketball on depth alone. In terms of 2018, it’s still a little early, but it’s tracking as one of the worst classes in recent memory. There isn’t much depth. Now there’s plenty of time for new names to emerge, but early on it doesn’t appear to be a great one.
Q - What looks to be the best events to follow in July? Or where will be the best collections of talent this month?
Honestly it’s majority of the normal heavy hitting events. The first evaluation period will be dominated by Nike’s Peach Jam (North Augusta, S.C.), Under Armour’s All-American Camp (Charlotte, N.C.) and adidas’ tournament (Spartanburg, S.C.). The second session is a little more spread out. The Under Armour Finals and Best of South will be very good events in Atlanta. I’m planning to cover NY2LA’s Summer Jam, which will have a great field, and the Great American Shootout, which was very beneficial last year. There are also a host of events in California. The final period will be dominated by a host of events in Las Vegas.