Bloomington – John Wilkens had scholarship offers from 40 schools and on Wednesday he picked…Bradley.
According to the Peoria Journal Star, the 6'9" European product will play for Coach Jim Les' squad in the Missouri Valley Conference. He can't gain admittance to university until he takes the ACT or the SAT, so the plan is to take the standardized test and then enroll at the Peoria, Ill., school in January.
While Bradley will certainly play up the fact that Wilkens was being courted by IU, Kansas, Purdue, Illinois and others, the fact of the matter is his inability to be enrolled for the fall semester had many of those big names backing off in recent weeks.
That's the case at IU, where the Hoosiers' staff scoured the scrap heap this summer for some frontcourt help. When Wilkens surfaced in July at a couple of AAU events with the potential of being an '08 recruit, IU Coach Tom Crean's staff joined just about everyone who had a scholarship in his back pocket and made inquiries about the Illinois Wolves' big man.
But once it became clear Wilkens would be unable to enroll in August and couldn't begin practicing until late December, his value dropped significantly. Most of the big name programs weren't interested in investing a scholarship in a player who couldn't help out until the 2009-10 season, Indiana included.
There appears to be some truth to the rumors about Lawrence North H.S. power forward Stephan Van Treese having some degree of interest in walking on at IU as a freshman and then going on scholarship for his final three seasons, but it's a scenario that still appears to be an extreme long shot at best.
HoosierNation.com sources indicate that the one-time top 10 recruit in the '09 class would entertain the idea of paying his own way for one season if there was a guarantee of a scholarship once he became a sophomore. But it's a scenario that seems unlikely for two reasons.
First of all, the 6'9", 225-pound Van Treese figures to attract some significant recruiting interest either later this fall or more likely in the spring. While his original top five of Indiana, Louisville, Kansas, UCLA and Ohio State all appear to be going in other directions with their '09 recruiting efforts, there are other programs that could surface as possibilities. Notre Dame, for example, is a finalist for No. 2 power forward in the country, Ryan Kelly, but if he goes elsewhere the Irish could get serious about Van Treese. Once spring rolls around, there undoubtedly will be some high-major teams that are back in the market for a power forward due to transfers, early NBA entrants, or other reasons.
Secondly, Indiana might not be so willing to commit to tying up a scholarship and thus being unable to bring in an additional play in the 2010 class. IU will have a couple of scholarships to work with due to the exit of junior college players Devon Dumes and Tijan Jobe after the 2009-10 campaigns, but Crean will still have a limited number of scholarships to work with in the class. Tying one of those up with a player IU wasn't sold on in 2009 appears unlikely.
One would have thought that recent IU commit Matt Carlino could have had his pick of drive-thrus after his pledge to the Hoosiers.
The 6'2" guard from Gilbert, Ariz., was headed back to the Indianapolis airport with his family Sunday morning, shortly after becoming the first member of IU's 2011 recruiting class with his Saturday night commitment. But instead, he had to do what most 15-year-olds do and that's go along with his parents' dining wishes.
"I wanted Wendy's, but my mom wanted McDonald's," Carlino said as his family rolled through the drive-thru. "So I got some chicken nuggets to hold me over."
Carlino might not have gotten his way for lunch, but he did get what he wanted out of his trip to Bloomington by committing to the Hoosiers. While there are few rankings out for the 2011 class, Carlino is considered by most to be a likely top-25 player nationally.
The Highland H.S. standout said he loves Crean's coaching style and how basketball is played in Indiana, and he's planning on taking some of the things he learned at IU's Elite Camp back home to Arizona.
"The pick and roll is a big part of the next level, and (Crean) loves to use it," Carlino said. "So he wants me to get better at that so I'll work on it during my season and during the summer."
With his commitment out of the way, Carlino won't be in the spotlight as much as he might have been otherwise during the next three seasons. That's not a negative in his mind, as he's looking forward to being able to focus on improving his game for the next three years before getting his college career underway.
"I don't really need (the recruiting attention) to motivate me," Carlino said. "It will make me that much more focused."
While there were many of players at IU's Elite Camp who are Hoosier recruiting targets, one of the surprise names to surface – G'mitri Rice – doesn't appear to be on the Hoosiers' wish list.
The son of former Michigan standout Glen Rice said the Hoosiers haven't made any recruiting contact with him. He said he was hoping to use his appearance at IU's camp as a way to start to get some more recruiting attention from programs around the country.
"I was hoping to be getting more attention already, but you can't always get what you want," Rice said.
The 6-2, 180-pound guard from Walton H.S. in Atlanta, Ga., averaged 10 points and five rebounds as a sophomore. He said he's received recruiting letters from Wake Forest, Richmond, Stanford and Middle Tennessee.
From everyone we've talked to, Birmingham, Ala., power forward Christian Watford appears to be a very heavy lean for Indiana. The 6'7 ½", 215-pounder was in Bloomington along with his entire family for IU's elite camp, and it appears to even be a surprise to some that he hasn't committed to IU yet.
His father, Ernest, told us that the next step is to schedule official visits for September and early October, and then to sign a letter of intent in November. He said the family will "definitely" be back to Indiana for one of those five officials, while Memphis, Louisville, Kentucky and Alabama are the other potential destinations for visits.
Watford might wind up taking one, two, three or all five of his officials, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that it never even gets to that point. Indiana is well positioned here to add a very special player to its already impressive '09 class.
Bobby Capobianco played with Carlino during the afternoon scrimmages at IU's elite camp, and here was his take on the Class of 2011 standout:
"The kid shoots the ball well. He has a really good defensive knack. He had a bunch of steals where kids didn't see him coming and he'd jump in front of balls, and did a lot of things that a really smart player has to know to be able to do.
"The kid is about 6-2 or 6-3, and he threw down a windmill dunk in lay-up lines, and any kid who can do that any size is extremely athletic. From what I saw, he seemed to have a good head on his shoulders, seemed he was a good kid, so I'm pumped."
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