The Recruiting Class of 2007 takes center stage this week as the nation's best head to a couple of destinations to compete in invitation-only All-America Camps. Many of the nation's best will be nearby at the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis this week, while others will be in Teaneck, N.J., competing in the ABCD All-America Camp.
It's an equally big period of time for the IU coaching staff, which is still looking for its first commitment for the 2007 class. We've profiled many of the top targets for Coach Kelvin Sampson's staff in recent weeks, but now HoosierNation.com breaks down the possibilities and ranks the 10 most important recruits for the new IU coaching staff…
1. Robbie Hummel - Hummel tops the Hoosiers' charts for a couple of reasons. On the court, he's as versatile as they come, capable of playing as many as four positions on the floor. The 6-8, 205-pounder from Valparaiso H.S. combines that with an unselfishness that will make him a much better college player than even his top-60 national ranking would suggest. There's an off-the-court factor that makes Hummel a must-have recruit as well. Indiana is engaged in a head-to-head battle with Purdue for his services, and it's been quite some time since the Hoosiers lost out to their arch-rivals for a recruit. (Note: while Purdue did land JaJuan Johnson recently, Indiana only got involved with him in the last several months). Nothing this off-season – short of a sudden change of heart from North Central's Eric Gordon – would give Coach Kelvin Sampson's program a bigger shot in the arm than a commitment from Hummel.
2. E'twaun Moore – What a difference a year makes for Moore. A year ago, some wondered whether or not the 6-3, 170-pounder from East Chicago H.S. had the perimeter skills to warrant a top-100 ranking in the 2007 class. But after a big junior season and a dominant display on the AAU circuit this spring, he's climbed to No. 33 in Scout.com's '07 rankings and has emerged as one of the country's elite wings. While he's still at his best attacking the basket off the dribble, his perimeter game has blossomed as well. At last year's Nike All-America Camp Moore said Mike Davis' Indiana staff was showing very little interest in him, but that's changed as well since Kelvin Sampson took over. IU is once again trying to play a game of catch-up with the likes of Iowa, Purdue and Tennessee, among others. The bottom line is Indiana desperately wants to sign one of the three best in-state players this season – Gordon, Hummel or Moore.
3. DeAndre Jordan – While much of the IU coaching staff's recruiting efforts have been focused within the Hoosier state's borders, they've also targeted a couple of elite big men on a national level as well. The best of those is 6-10, 210-pound Jordan, a top-25 player nationally who Sampson was recruiting when he was the head coach at Oklahoma. The Bellaire, Texas, product recently listed Indiana in his top six along with Texas, Texas A&M, LSU, Florida and Florida State, suggesting Sampson's staff has its work cut out for it if it's to come out on top. But with the possibility of losing D.J. White to the NBA at season's end a very real possibility, Jordan would be the perfect replacement, another gifted athlete who could step in and be a dominant big man at the Big Ten level as a freshman.
4. Point Guard, TBA – With the Demetri McCamey's commitment to Illinois last week, Indiana goes back to the drawing board a little bit with a very important position in this year's recruiting class – point guard. The Hoosiers will lose likely 2006-07 starter Earl Calloway and Errek Suhr at season's end, leaving only freshman Armon Bassett at the position for the following season. There's little doubt Indiana will look to sign a player with point guard skills in the '07 class. One possibility is Indianapolis Pike's Jeff Teague, a 6-1 guard who has been turning some heads this spring. Indiana hasn't offered yet, but they are keeping tabs on him. If the IU staff thinks Maryland guard Malcolm Delaney can be a point instead of a two guard, he becomes a realistic possibility as well. The pickings are already getting slim, with 13 of Scout.com's top 25 point guards nationally already pledged somewhere. Six of those early commits are headed to the Big Ten, with Michigan State (Kalin Lucas, No. 3 ranked point guard), Illinois (McCamey, No. 10), Northwestern (Michael Thompson, No. 17), Michigan (Kelvin Grady, No. 18), Iowa (Dairese Gary, No. 23) and Penn State (Talor Battle, No. 25) already making their pledges.
5. DeJuan Blair – Blair is another player who fits the Sampson mode – he's a tireless worker who scores in the paint and hits the offensive boards with reckless abandon. One of Sampson's priorities with the '07 class is to bring in a group of players who instinctively play with the sort of tenacity that he demands, and Blair fits that criteria perfectly. A pair of knee injuries have kept the Pittsburgh, Penn., product from being a top-30 or 40 player in the '07 class, but that figures to change once the post-summer rankings come out. He's been turning plenty of heads this spring and summer, and he recently listed Indiana in his top five along with Kansas State, Florida, Pitt, Florida and Miami (Fla.).
6. Matt Howard – This 6-7, 190-pound forward from Connersville (Ind.) H.S. hasn't had the notoriety of some of the other top in-state players, but make no mistake about this fact – the Indiana coaching staff likes his skills very much. Howard is a highly-productive players who rebounds, defends, scores around the basket and can block shots. Equally important is the fact he's a high-energy, ultra-competitive player who fits in very well with Sampson's style and approach to the game. A commitment here wouldn't come along with the some sort of PR punch that Hummel or Moore would, but Howard has a chance to be a major talent at the collegiate level.
7. Scott Martin – A high school teammate of Hummel's at Valparaiso, Martin is Scout.com's 45th-ranked player in the '07 class, having averaged a team-best 20.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a junior to help Valpo to a 21-3 record. While he's a deft 3-point shooter and considered as a shooting guard by most recruiting services, he'll likely wind up as a small forward at the collegiate level. Like Moore, Martin is a player who Sampson's staff has been trying to make up ground with for some time after Davis' staff showed minimal interest a season ago. While he doesn't possess the versatility of Hummel of the explosiveness of Moore, Martin is a gifted scorer who the IU staff would love to have.
8. Corperryale Harris – The 6-4 Detroit product isn't your stereotypical jump-shooting two-guard, but that hasn't kept him from climbing into the top 50 in Scout.com's rankings for the 2007 class. While others have made a name for themselves with their outside shooting stroke, Harris does more of his damage with offensive putbacks, with a solid mid-range jumper, and with his back to the basket when guarded by a smaller defender. He averaged 22 points and seven rebounds as a junior, helping lead Redford H.S. to a runner-up finish in the Michigan state tournament. Perhaps the biggest reason Harris would be a big get for IU is what it might mean for the future. The new IU coaching staff is trying to get its foot in the door in the state of Michigan, a state that produces a wealth of prep talent that has long stocked the rosters of Michigan State and Michigan, among others. The Family AAU team is traditionally the state's best, and Indiana would love to have a good chance in future years with some of that program's elite players.
9. Eric Gordon – Indications are the IU staff hasn't given up hope that the 6-3, 185-pound shooting guard from Indianapolis' North Central H.S. will re-open his recruitment. Gordon verballed to Illinois Coach Bruce Weber before the start of his junior season, but there have been behind-the-scenes rumblings he might be wavering. Of course, all of that speculation has come from second- and third-hand sources, as Gordon has been very clear publicly that he remains very much committed to the Illini. Odds are that Scout.com's No. 5 ranked player nationally ends up in Champaign, marking a second straight season IU has missed out on a top-five in-state player to a Big Ten foe (Greg Oden-Ohio State). If he does re-consider, though, and somehow winds up in Bloomington, it would be the sort of recruiting coup that would send Sampson's popularity among IU fans soaring.
10. Gary McGhee – The Anderson (Ind.) Highland center hasn't received the attention (or offer) from Indiana that a handful of other in-state players have, but Sampson's staff continues to keep close tabs on him. One thing McGhee undoubtedly has is size, and at 6-10, 245 pounds he'd be able to match up defensively with any big man in the Big Ten. He's most polished on the defensive end, while his offensive game still has a ways to go. He's a good rebounder who can score at point blank range and on putbacks, but he still needs to develop his back-to-the-basket game to be a more complete – and enticing – recruiting target. Indiana's interest could rise or fall later this summer depending on what happens with some of the players ahead of him on the IU wish list.
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