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INDIANAPOLIS -- So now it’s Vijay Blackmon.
He’s the younger brother of Bishop Luers standout James Jr., and another son of Luers coach James Sr. He, too, has impressive basketball skill. As a member of the Class of 2016, Vijay won’t start high school at Luers until next month.
No matter. College coaches are aware.
Indiana coach Tom Crean hasn’t offered Vijay a basketball scholarship before he reaches high school, as Crean did with James Jr., now a junior to be. James Jr. quickly committed to the Hoosiers.
Crean watched the younger Blackmon during Saturday’s action at the Best of the Midwest event in Fishers. IU is interested. So is Purdue. Both Crean and Boiler coach Matt Painter continue to work the youth angle in recruiting in the state of Indiana.
Given the talent that continues to come out of the state, can you blame them?
While most of the nation’s top prep players are at national events such as the Peach Jam in South Carolina and the AAU Superjam just outside of Orlando, Fla., the Eric Gordon teams stayed close to their Indianapolis roots. That included IU commitments Collin Hartman and Devin Davis, Notre Dame commitment V.J. Beachem and Purdue commitment Basil Smotherman.
Smotherman, by the way, has looked very strong at the Best of the Midwest event, particularly on offense. He had a 20-point game Saturday night as Eric Gordon U17 rolled to a 95-42 win over Indiana Spine. Boiler assistant coach Greg Gary was in Fishers to watch him.
Smotherman is not rated as a member of Purdue’s highly regarded Class of 2013, although that could change if the Indianapolis Lawrence North standout continues his strong play. Northrop’s Bryson Scott and Illinois’ Kendall Stephens are ranked in the Boilers Class of 2013. Stephens is at No. 56 nationally by Rivals.com, a national Internet recruiting service, No. 9 at shooting guard. Scott is ranked No. 60 overall, No. 7 among point guards.
The Best of the Midwest event wraps up today at 5.
The final session of the July evaluation period begins on Wednesday at a variety of sites around the country, including Fort Wayne.
Indiana’s push-the-pace approach works, but that doesn’t mean Crean doesn’t appreciate the benefit of an inside power game. Consider his interest in 6-8, 250-pound power forward Jarred Reuter out of Massachusetts.
Reuter is a top-25 prospect by ESPN.com in the Class of 2015. He was impressive enough a year ago at an IU elite camp to earn a Hoosier scholarship offer. He didn’t accept it then, and now has offers from Florida, Rutgers and St. John’s.
He’s also getting strong interest from Boston College, Connecticut, Kansas, West Virginia and North Carolina.
The summer goal, he said, is to become a more all-around player.
“I’m always working on athleticism and developing every part of my game. Once I develop more and know what kind of player I’m gong to be, I’ll know more about what kind of system I want to play in.”
IU’s turnaround last season, when it went from a struggling program to a Sweet 16 team, impressed Reuter. So does the fact the Hoosiers are considered preseason No. 1 picks for this coming season.
“Coach Crean is a great recruiter,” Reuter said. “This past year proved it. Next year is only going to get better with the guys they have returning and coming in.”
If you think AAU coaches are in the spring/summer travel basketball business just to win, consider Dave Gutierrez of SportsWorx Select, a Fort Wayne-based program. He pushes the concept that the experience goes way beyond wins and losses.
“To me, you don’t do this to win,” he said. “If I’m out here just to win, then I’m in the wrong business for AAU.
“I’ve been around basketball all my life. I’ve had three really good coaches, and it was always, win or lose, you play hard and you’ll get good results. That’s what I’m trying to teach these guys.
“We won’t win every game. We’re not the biggest and quickest team out there. But, you know what, I want them to go back to their high schools, so they can be leaders on their teams. That’s my job. It’s not about the wins and losses.”
SportsWorx Select has players from Canterbury, Bishop Dwenger, Carroll and Northrop. It also has a player from Angola and from Defiance, Ohio.
“A lot of these kids have been together for a while. I don’t have to get on them too much. When I do, it’s as a team and not as an individual.”