Bloomington, Ind. – What a difference a year makes.
A season ago, the Indiana basketball program was seemingly sitting on the sidelines during the heated spring recruiting season. While others jockeyed for position with the 2006 and 2007 classes, IU seemed to be sitting idly by, waiting for what then-IU Coach Mike Davis hoped would be a big 2005-06 campaign.
If that perception was reality, it's easy to understand why. Davis' shaky job status in Bloomington had current members of the team uneasy about his future, let alone those preps who were still a couple seasons away from playing their first collegiate basketball game. It would have been a tall order for Davis and staff to get any elite future recruit to give serious consideration to playing in Bloomington given his unsettled future.
Fast forward to this spring. For the first time in three or four years there's a level of stability with the IU program and the Hoosiers have once again emerged as a recruiting force. Not only has Coach Kelvin Sampson's staff addressed some needs on the frontline with the signing of JUCOs Lance Stemler and Mike White, but they've also quickly put out feelers – and offers – to a slew of top '07 and even '08 kids.
Sampson's staff has targeted the Hoosier state, reportedly offering a handful of in-staters such as East Chicago's E'twaun Moore, Connersville's Matt Howard and Valparaiso's tandem of Scott Martin and Robbie Hummel. Indiana is among the front-runners for all four, which is no small feat when one considers that Moore had all but eliminated IU last summer due to a lack of interest from Davis' staff.
Sampson also made some (fruitless) inquiries into the availability of North Central guard Eric Gordon, who reaffirmed his verbal commitment to Illinois, and the staff continues to keep a close eye on others around the state, including Franklin Central's JaJuan Johnson and Ft. Wayne Northside's Eshaunte Jones.
Nationally, IU has made offers to top-20 Texas big man DeAndre Jordan, Pittsburgh power forward DeJuan Blair, Detroit shooting guard Corperryale Harris and Chicago area teammates Evan Turner and Demetri McCamey. Jumping ahead to the 2008 class, Indiana has already offered 6-7, 215-pound Brewster Academy forward Emmanuel Negedu, a native of Nigeria who is a tremendously explosive athlete who figures to be one of the top players in his class once 2008 player rankings begin to take shape.
There's no questioning the fact the new IU staff has hit the recruiting trail running.
While the new staff has been working the state of Indiana hard, it's also been trying to target the type of player that fits into the Sampson system, according to IU assistant coach Rob Senderoff.
"There are a lot of talented kids, but you want to make sure you find kids that have discipline and toughness," Senderoff said. "You want kids you think fit well with the way Coach Sampson wants to play."
That approach could lead the IU staff being more enamored with a lower-ranked player that recruiting analysts might not be as high on compared to someone who dazzles during the summer AAU circuit or in summer all-star games.
"You can find some talented kids that you might say, I don't know if that kid, wit the lack of discipline or structure in their life outside of basketball, if that's going to be a perfect fit for coach," Senderoff said. "That's sort of what you look for, that they are character kids as well."
What's IU Looking For On Recruiting Trail?
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