Jordan Hulls' value to a team has now been evidenced by his presence as well as his absence.
Earlier this spring, the 6'0", 170-pound point guard catapulted up the national rankings while leading the Indiana Elite One AAU squad to a handful of prestigious titles. The Pitt Jam Fest, Adidas May Classic and Kentucky Hoopfest were among the big events the Bloomington-based team captured on its way to establishing itself as one of the nation's best squads.
While Hulls starred at each tourney stop, some wondered if the Bloomington South H.S. standout and IU commit was simply the beneficiary of an outstanding supporting cast. After all, high-major recruits such as Mason Plumlee, Stephan Van Treese, Ray McCallum, Jr., D.J. Byrd and Bobby Capobianco are also part of Indiana Elite's arsenal.
But any doubt of Hulls' value has been erased this week in Las Vegas. With Hulls unavailable due to a commitment to his high school team, Indiana Elite dropped its first three games in Sin City. Hulls, meanwhile, has instead been playing with his high school teammates in Vegas and the Panthers are off to a 3-0 start.
This week's results have only gone to confirm that Hulls is worthy of the No. 8 spot in Scout.com's point guard rankings as well as the scholarship offer that IU Coach Tom Crean extended – and Hulls accepted.
Few players have benefited more from this summer's AAU circuit than Hulls, someone who was once thought of as a mid-major prospect at best after averaging 16.0 points as a junior on his high school team. While some may have doubted his ability to blossom into a high-major recruit, Hulls wasn't one of them.
"I never had that much exposure and wasn't thought of as one of the top point guards," Hulls said. "But I always believed in myself and thought I could be one of the best in the country."
Now, the rankings bear that out. Not only is he the country's No. 8 point guard, but he's also the 92nd ranked player overall. He's one of only three in-state players ranked in the top 100 along with fellow IU commit Derek Elston (No. 81) and Purdue-bound forward Jeff Robinson (No. 87).
While Hulls might not have the same sort of flash that some other elite point guards do in the 2009 class, he does plenty of other things extremely well. He has range well beyond the 3-point arc, he's as good a ball handler as there is in the class, he handles ball pressure extremely well, and he rarely turns the ball over.
No one had ever doubted Hulls' ability to shoot the ball, but it's his ability to not only handle ball pressure but attack it that has been the biggest difference this summer.
"As Coach (Matt) Painter told me, the one draw back was, can he go north-south against really tough, physical, hard-nosed guards," Bloomington South Coach J.R. Holmes said. "That was a concern until now, and they've seen it. Now he's shown it."
Crean has seen it as well and compares Hulls' skills to one of the best players he ever coached at Marquette.
"As Coach Crean told me, his smartness, his understanding of the game reminds him of Travis Diener," Holmes said. "His ability to push the ball down and not have to dribble it a thousand times. If the guy is open he gets it to him."
It all adds up to a player who might not be the biggest of stature, but someone who is going to play a big role in any team's success or failure. Recruiting analysts have now witnessed Hulls' value, and Hoosier fans will be able to see it first hand as well beginning in the fall of 2009.
"My game is a little different than everyone else because I have a little ‘old school' in me, but it's all panned out really well and all my hard work has paid off," Hulls said. "It's exciting to be considered one of the top point guards in the country, and I'm humbled by it."
Hulls' Value As Evident As Ever
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