smg92390 writes: Any recruiting updates on Jonah Bolden, Malachi, Tyus Battle, or any 2015-16 targets?
JUSTIN ALBERS writes: Not much to update with Bolden, a 2014 forward, other than the fact that he will visit UCLA this weekend. Late last month, Bolden told me Indiana was among four schools pursuing him the hardest, joining UCLA, SMU and Louisville. No other visits have been scheduled for him at this point.
As I reported yesterday, 2015 G/F Malachi Richardson plans to announce his decision some time next week. I’m hearing his three favorite schools are IU, Connecticut and Syracuse. Richardson, a five-star prospect, was at the IU-Syracuse game on Tuesday night. He last visited Indiana for Hoosier Hysteria in early October. I’m not sure who the favorite is on this one, but I have heard concerns regarding the shooting Indiana has coming in with the 2014 class. That may hurt the Hoosiers a little bit, according to a source.
As for Tyus Battle, a 2016 five-star guard, he plans to attend the Indiana-Michigan State game at Assembly Hall on Jan. 4. He has already been to Bloomington a couple of times and is high on the Hoosiers, but is also a ways off on a decision.
jahel writes: Do you sense there is a recruiting trend where IU is losing out on some top recruits right at the finish line? These are recruits IU led for, for example, Pinson, Goodluck, Robinson, Whitehead, and possibly Malachi.
ALBERS writes: That’s an interesting point to bring up, but I don’t think it’s a fair assessment to make. Sure, Indiana was in good shape with all the prospects you mentioned, minus Whitehead, and didn’t end up with any of them. But during that time, they also ended up with James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson, so it’s not like they’ve been shut out or anything like that. You can’t get everybody, and the IU staff didn’t do anything wrong in their pursuit of any of those guys. They simply felt they fit in elsewhere. I don’t think there’s any bigger issue at hand where IU can’t close recruitments. I think that would be a silly assessment to make. These kinds of things happen to many schools. It’s just where we are in the world of recruiting and the coverage of that recruiting. There’s so much more coverage from every angle nowadays that you feel you know more about the kid and his relationships with the schools than you have in the past. Plus, as we know, kids change their minds all the time, so you never really know until they actually announce their decision. So, I do think there is a bit of a trend there, to answer your question, but not necessarily a problem.
faithguy19 writes: What do you see as the biggest weakness or need for our current squad? Leadership? Defense? Shooting? Do you have any sense on what Coach Crean and the staff are the most concerned about at this point in the season?
ALBERS writes: That’s a good question. I’d have to say leadership because I think the other things will come. The lack of shooting hurts at times, but this team has so much athleticism that they can hang in a lot of games and beat a lot of teams without making a ton of outside shots. Plus, I do think there are some capable shooters on this team that will improve in that department as the season progresses (i.e. Jeremy Hollowell, Will Sheehey). I think the defense has looked really good at times, as well.
But the leadership is the biggest thing Indiana last from a year ago and the biggest thing it must replace throughout this season. It’s been OK at times, but obviously wasn’t the other night at Syracuse. So I think that’s the team’s biggest need at this point, and also the coaching staff’s biggest concern. If your team has good leadership, it can help make up for some other weaknesses. Now, where does that leadership come from? That remains to be seen. Hopefully from a number of places.