Bloomington, Ind. - Indications are that one-half of Kelvin Sampson's 2006-07 recruiting efforts have been completed.
While the first-year Hoosier coach has been looking through the high school and junior college ranks for players to sign this spring, he's also been trying to keep those who were already in IU uniforms from going elsewhere.
With the exception of sophomore guard Robert Vaden announcing his intentions to leave for UAB, it appears Sampson has been able to do that. While D.J. White hasn't issued a public statement saying he'll be back next season, everything points to the 6-9, 242-pounder coming back to anchor the Hoosiers in the middle.
While keeping White was priority one for Sampson, he also wanted to make sure that November signees Armon Bassett and Xavier Keeling opted to come to Bloomington as well. After some hesitation on the subject in recent weeks, both have re-affirmed their commitments to IU.
The most recent to do so was Keeling, the 6-6, 220-pound forward from Huntsville, Alabama's J.O. Johnson H.S. Keeling appeared to be seriously considering asking for a release from his IU letter of intent after Mike Davis' decision to step down in February, but his mother confirmed this week that he will in fact be in an IU uniform in the fall.
"It happened when Coach Sampson came to see him last week," Clarissa Keeling said. "He is going to Indiana."
Keeling is a borderline top-100 recruit nationally, a gifted athlete who used to be a standout defensive end before turning his attention to basketball. An honorable mention All-State pick as a senior, Keeling is a gifted rebounder who can play and defend a variety of positions on the floor.
"There's no doubt this kid can play at Indiana," said Keeling's high school coach, Kenneth Betts. "He's one of the best players in the country."
Keeling's decision is an important one for Sampson, as he looks to address some pressing needs on the Hoosiers' frontline. The Hoosiers are now expected to have four scholarship frontline players on their roster – D.J. White, Keeling, 6-11 sophomore Ben Allen and 6-6, 235-pound forward Mike White, who signed a letter of intent earlier this month.
Sampson still has visions of adding to that number as well. He still has at least two scholarships available for the spring signing period, and that number could grow to three if 6-10 freshman Cem Dinc does in fact decide to leave the program, as most expect he will, in the off-season. While Dinc told the Indianapolis Star earlier this month that he would be back next season, he hasn't been in town since the Hoosiers' season ended in March and is believed to be back in Europe.
That's left Sampson looking for another player or two to add to the mix this spring. One strong possibility appears to be 6-8, 205-pound small forward Lance Stemler, a first-team JUCO All-American from Southwestern Illinois College. A 22.0 points/game scorer this past season, Stemler is making his official visit to IU this weekend and will pick between IU, Marquette, Nebraska and St. Louis next week.
Another possibility is Vaughn Duggins, a 6-3 shooting guard from Pendleton Heights (Ind.) H.S. The state's second-leading scorer this season with 26.9 points/game, Duggins is in town this weekend for an official visit along with Stemler.
The possibilities don't end there. Sampson and his staff have recently emerged as a possible destination for 6-10, 245-pound center Phil Jones from the Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina. The nation's 16th-ranked center according to Scout.com, Jones is also considering UConn, Cincinnati, Kentucky and Tennessee. He has all five official visits remaining and said he plans on taking a visit to IU.
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