Four-star Putnam (CT) Science Academy guard Eric Ayala is a player with whom Indiana is quite familiar.
As it turns out, the 6-foot-4 guard is quite familiar with Indiana as well.
IU coaches saw Ayala quite a bit over the spring and summer with his AAU team, WE-R1, and over the weekend watched him with Putnam.
IU offered Ayala a scholarship after IU coach Tom Crean and assistant Chuck Martin watched him on Sunday.
“I definitely know a lot about Indiana,” Ayala told peegs.com. “They produce a lot of good guards. I guess over the weekend, I played good enough to earn a scholarship. That was a blessing.
“I'm trying to get better every day. I think Indiana has a lot to offer. Victor Oladipo, I’m very familiar with him. He grew up not too far away from me here in Delaware I know they did a real good job developing his game. I know he was raw coming out of high school, and he ended up being a top pick in the draft, and I know Indiana had a lot to do with that.”
Oladipo, from DeMatha in Maryland, was a No 2 NBA draft pick.
Ayala’s recruitment is very interesting because he has the option of being in the 2017 or 2018 class. He said Indiana is talking to him about being in the 2017 class.
“I talked with coach Crean right after the game, and he explained that I would be a priority in the class of 2018,” Ayala said. “Going in that class is a consideration. I’m not saying I’m sold on it, but it is a thought.
“He definitely made me feel like I’m a priority for them in 2018 but would take me in 2017. Coach Crean and I have been talking ever since that game.
“He said he loved my pace, that I’m a shooter and a driver but I look to get my teammates involved. He noticed that I always take pride in my defense.”
Ayala said he doesn’t have a certain time frame for when he’s going to decide whether he’ll be in the 2017 or 2018 class.
“It’s just going to be what I think is the best opportunity,” he said. “If I feel like it’s a good option going in 2017, that would definitely be an option. If I feel it’s a better opportunity for pursuing my dreams to be in 2018, that’s what I’ll do.
“Right now, I’m just taking it one day at time, just enjoying my high school experience and going through my season. We play like 40 games, so I’m just trying to enjoy the season.”
Ayala said he has been on campus visits to Connecticut, Maryland, Providence and Miami. He said he’s trying to schedule a visit to Syracuse and he’s looking at possible getting to Indiana.
“Hopefully I can get out there at some point in time, maybe on a trip. If I can get out there, I definitely will,” he said.
Putnam coach Josh Scraba said the schools who have been most involved with Ayala the longest are Maryland, Syracuse, Connecticut and Providence.
“Indiana just got in. Kansas is on its way in. They’ve been doing a good job recruiting him, but haven’t offered yet. Villanova has done a good job with him but no offer yet. Those first four are the main four right now,” Scraba said.
Indiana is working to demonstrate its interest.
“I talked to Chuck after the game, and he said they really like him a lot, didn’t know if the feeling was mutual and wanted to see if they’d have a shot or if it’s closing up. He’s wide open,” Scraba said.
“He’s very interested in the player development at Indiana. The way Crean said is that he’s a guy who could play the point and they could put shooters around him as well as moving him around.”
Ayala is a combo guard at this stage. Scraba said Ayala is playing point guard about 50 percent of the time so far this season.
“He’s really playing well. He’s taken a full 180 from when he first got here. He was a quiet kid who didn’t want to play that hard when he first got here. I haven’t seen many kids turn it around as quickly as he has,” Scraba said. “He’s a leader on and off the court. He has straight ‘A’s. He’s doing really well as we’ve moved him more on the ball.
“He’s very crafty. He can finish at the rim. Not many guys in the country can finish like he does. His size really helps him. He can see over defenders and make plays.”
As for Ayala’s option between the 2017 and 2018 class, his coach said it will be up to Ayala.
“I think right now, if he were to leave in 2017, I think it’s a point guard needy class. We have a lot of schools calling, asking for his services. The class has gotten better with Collin Sexton and some of those guys emerging, but a lot of people need a point guard,” Scraba said.
“I think if he goes in 2018, his advantage in staying is mastering his craft. His shot he wants to be more consistent. He’s going to go through his process.”
Here’s how Ayala describes his own game at the moment:
“I feel like with my size and my body, I have an advantage over some guards at my position. I feel I can shoot the ball well. I like to get my teammates involved. And my IQ. I think that’s where my game flourishes.
“And my competitiveness and toughness. I try to be that guard that everybody’s scared to play against.”null