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With the July evaluation period in full swing at AAU tournaments across the country, releasing the first Wish List this cycle for Indiana basketball could not be more timely.
Coach Tom Crean and his assistants have been watching prospects from coast to coast over the past few weeks, and that is only expected to continue throughout the month.
Recruiting for the Hoosiers at this juncture centers on bigs, bigs and more bigs. There are currently just four players listed on the Indiana roster that measure in at 6-foot-8 or above. Three of those – Tim Priller (6-9), Jeremiah April (6-11) and Max Hoetzel (6-8) – are incoming freshmen.
The lone “big” returning for Indiana is Hanner Mosquera-Perea, a junior who averaged just 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds per game a year ago.
The shortage in quantity and arguably quality up front for the Hoosiers could be a grave issue in the 2014-15 season. The hope is that the position can be shored up with this recruiting class.
This list of the top five players Indiana needs is not restricted to the five most highly-touted prospects, but rather a mix of need, skill and the chances the Hoosiers have of actually landing them.
1. Ray Spalding
School: Trinity High School
Position: Power forward/center
Measurables: 6-foot-9, 200 pounds
Ranking: Rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and the No. 69 player in the country; Scout.com rates Spalding a five-star prospect, the No. 12 power forward and the No. 66 player overall.
Offers: Boston College, Butler, Clemson, Dayton, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Louisville, Northwestern, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky, Xavier.
Breakdown: Indiana needs versatile big men and Spalding is one of the best in this year's class. The Kentucky product is long and athletic who can post up, get up the floor in transition and even step out on the perimeter and hit a long jumper.
Spalding thoroughly dominated the competition at the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis last week, with Crean taking in several games, including the opener when Spalding dropped 36 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a victory for The Ville.
Spalding has named a top three with Indiana in the mix along with Louisville and Xavier, but Duke has been mentioned as close to offering.
This would be a huge get for Indiana, but can Crean pull a top recruit out of Coach Rick Pitino's backyard?
2. Juwan Morgan
School: Waynesville High School
Position: Power forward
Measurables: 6-foot-7, 210 pounds
Ranking: Rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and the No. 106 player in the country; Ranked a four-star prospect, the No. 16 power forward and the No. 81 overall prospect by Scout.com.
Offers: California, Creighton, Indiana, Missouri State, Northwestern, Tulsa, UTEP, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Washington, Western Kentucky, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa.
Breakdown: If Spalding is Option 1, then Morgan is Option 1B. Sporting a body type similar to Spalding with a versatile skill set to match, Morgan looks to the part of a perfect fit in Crean's system.
Morgan has no problems getting up the floor in transition and is aggressive on the boards, not afraid to mix it up inside with bulkier players. The ability to stretch the defense with a solid jumper is also in Morgan's repertoire.
Morgan is more of a stretch forward than a true inside presence, with his game in the paint needing some refinement. But there is plenty to like with this prospect.
Many see this recruiting race coming down to Washington and Indiana. With not many heavyweight programs too involved at this point, landing Morgan is big for the Hoosiers.
3. Caleb Swanigan
School: Homestead High School
Measurables: 6-foot-8, 255 pounds
Ranking: Rated a five-star recruit by Scout.com, the No. 7 center and the No. 12 overall player in the country; Ranked a five-star prospect and the No. 20 player overall by Rivals.com.
Offers: Arizona, Georgetown, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan State, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Tennessee, UCLA, Xavier.
Breakdown: Considering Swanigan suits up for Homestead just a few miles down the road, one would think we would know more about how this recruitment is shaping up. Yet Swanigan, like his personality, has been rather quiet on who his leaders are and other details.
There is no doubt that Indiana wants and needs a player in the mold of Swanigan who, like Spalding and Morgan, are effective both inside and out. Since the high school season, Swanigan has showcased more range with an outside jumper and continues to get in better shape to run the floor fluidly.
One thing Swanigan has mentioned is his desire to play early. With Indiana's lack of bodies inside, significant playing time as a freshman is available. Whether the Hoosiers can keep another top 20 talent in-state remains to be seen.
4. Jalen Coleman
School: La Lumiere School
Position: Shooting guard
Measurables: 6-foot-4, 180 pounds
Ranking: Rated a five-star recruit by Scout.com, the No. 8 shooting guard and the No. 31 overall player in the country; Ranked a four-star prospect and the No. 36 player overall by Rivals.com.
Finalists: N.C. State, Indiana, Michigan, Notre Dame, UNLV, Illinois.
Breakdown: Indiana kept one of the nation's best pure scorers in the state last cycle with James Blackmon Jr., now it is trying to do the same this year with Coleman.
A lean but strong two guard, Coleman has opened plenty of eyes over the past few years with his mix of outside shooting prowess and slashing ability. Not many players this cycle are more smooth and silky as Coleman is with the ball in his hands. Adding a piece like Coleman would give the Hoosiers an outside scoring threat with the ability to get to the basket with frequency.
Coleman has named a final six, but a timetable for his decision is uncertain.
5. Bryant Crawford
School: Gonzaga High School
Position: Point guard
Measurables: 6-foot-2, 170 pounds
Ranking: Rated a five-star recruit by Scout.com, the No. 5 point guard and the No. 57 overall player in the country; Ranked a four-star prospect and the No. 77 player overall by Rivals.com.
Offers: Georgetown, Indiana, Louisville, Maryland, Nebraska, Seton Hall, Villanova.
Breakdown: The Hoosiers have not landed a pure point guard since Yogi Ferrell in 2012, making this position of paramount importance to Indiana this cycle.
The best on the board with interest in Indiana is Crawford, who is one of the more dynamic guards in the country, let alone at the point.
Crawford can flat-out go up and down the court, a player who has no issues pushing the tempo and thus fitting what Crean wants in his point guard. He can finish around the basket but also facilitate well.
A lot of the focus is on big men this cycle for Indiana, but it does not matter how many talented forwards the Hoosiers land if they cannot feed the ball to them inside. Crawford is an important piece to the recruiting puzzle at this juncture.