Recruiting Notebook: Indiana preps for big weekend; Buzz Williams's early success
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Indiana adds momentum heading into key weekend
When Al Durham committed to the Indiana Hoosiers in Oct. 2015, the expectation was he’d be the first of what was going to be a very big class. However, for a long while the Georgia native was the lone member of Tom Crean’s 2017 haul.
As is the case at a place like Indiana where the fans are as passionate and educated as any in the nation, there was consternation about the direction the class was going. That was exacerbated when in-state five-star prospects Malik Williams and Jaren Jackson chose Louisville and Michigan State, respectively, over the Hoosiers.
However on Monday night the Hoosiers got some much needed good news. Four-star prospect Justin Smith from suburban Chicago picked the Hoosiers over reigning national champion Villanova.
Smith, who is one of the better athletes in the class, gives Indiana some recruiting momentum heading into one of the more important recruiting weekends Crean has had in a few years.
Visiting Bloomington this weekend is Indianapolis native and five-star prospect Kris Wilkes. Wilkes has had an offer from Indiana since eighth grade, and he has long been considered the top priority for the Hoosiers in the class.
Adding to the importance is the fact that Wilkes has been the one in-state elite prospect in this recruiting cycle that Crean and his staff have seemed to have all the momentum.
For his part, Wilkes is looking forward to the visit.
“I am just looking forward to getting down there and seeing all the facilities more and getting to know the coaches,” said Wilkes. “I want to meet the players and see how comfortable I am with them and just have a good time.”
This is not Wilkes’s first visit to Indiana. He has been down there numerous times in an unofficial capacity, but the official visit could be the difference-maker for the Hoosiers.
With schools such as UCLA, Illinois, Xavier and Connecticut all firmly in the mix, Indiana is looking to blow Wilkes away.
There is no doubt the pressure is on Crean to land an elite talent from a traditionally pro-Indiana high school (former Hoosiers such as Eric Gordon and A.J. Ratliff won Mr. Basketball at the school).
Due to all of those factors, a ton of attention will be on Wilkes and his trip this weekend, and no doubt Crean is happy to have recruiting momentum thanks to the commitment of a respected prospect like Smith.
Buzz Williams continues to raise the bar at Virginia Tech
On Wednesday evening Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams and his staff got phenomenal news. One of their premier recruiting targets, Wabissa Bede, picked the Hokies. Bede ended up picking Virginia Tech over Butler, and for the Hokies, it was huge to snag the No. 73 ranked prospect.
Not only is Bede one of the toughest and most competitive point guards in the country, he also represents the impact that Williams has had since arriving in Blacksburg.
Williams was named the coach of Virginia Tech on March 21, 2014, and he hit the ground running on the recruiting trail. Right away Williams was able to retain four-star Ohio native Justin Bibbs, who had signed with former coach James Johnson, and then added in Ahmed Hill who originally signed with Williams at Virginia Tech.
Since then Williams has added four top-100 prospects, including two top-100 prospects who have committed but not yet signed in the 2017 class, for a total of six in only four recruiting classes.
To put that in perspective, Marquette had only landed 12 top-100 prospects in the previous 11 recruiting classes.
Quite simply, Williams has completely raised the talent level in Blacksburg. Seth Greenberg in nine seasons landed multiple top-100 prospects in the same class twice. Williams has landed multiple top-100 prospects in the same class already three times in four attempts.
Always known as one of the hardest workers in the business, Williams has left no stone unturned on the recruiting trail. While of course he has focused on kids in the Mid-Atlantic region, he is consistently showing the ability to get creative and go outside of the region to land recruits.
Bede hails from Massachusetts, fellow signee Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a native of Canada and potential sophomore breakout star this year Kerry Blackshear is from Florida.
Williams’s ability to recruit stars from Virginia as well as go outside of the region has him bringing in more talent than ever to Blacksburg, and the Hokies now look primed to compete in the absolutely loaded ACC.