(From July 2018)
Indiana head basketball coach Archie Miller’s “inside-out” recruiting strategy is well known at this point. More than just talking points at his introductory press conference, Miller has put the plan into action, securing three of the top players in Indiana with the class of 2018.
It doesn’t get any more “inside” than within the borders of Bloomington, Indiana. With a non-student population of less than 50,000, you wouldn’t expect too many IU basketball players to come from the school’s hometown. But this is Indiana, and there has been a decent history of Bloomington natives sporting the Cream and Crimson.
At least for one season, the team was dominated by guys from Bloomington. The top three scorers on the 1924-25 team were all locals — Harlan Logan, Palmer Sponsler and Julius Krueger.
More recently, a pair of Indiana Mr. Basketball winners headline the list. Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hulls are IU legends.
There have also been a number of other interesting names from Bloomington including coach’s sons like Pat Knight and Mike Davis, Jr., and current radio color commentator Errek Suhr. The son of IU legend Scott May — Scott May, Jr., also wore the candy stripes, although the Hoosiers missed out on his other son Sean.
You can also find a local on the current team in walk-on from Bloomington South High School Johnny Jager.
It seems that one way for a Bloomington boy to heighten his chances of one day playing for the hometown team is to manage to get your picture taken with a Bloomington-based current Indiana player.
More on that in a minute.
It is starting to look like the next Bloomington native to receive an IU basketball scholarship offer will be Bloomington South’s Anthony Leal. The 6-foot-4 guard has been on Indiana’s radar for a long time, but he isn’t just Monroe County’s little secret any longer.
Putting it simply, Leal had a huge spring. 247Sports recruiting analyst Brian Snow had this to say in an article where he included Leal as one of the top class of 2020 performers on the Adidas Gauntlet:
“Leal can make shots from deep, is solid going to the rim, and plays with a terrific motor. This has been a monster spring for him, and Leal keeps proving what he is capable of.”
The big spring has led to a much greater national profile. Leal received his first power-five scholarship offer from Xavier in June. He’s also been on high profile visits recently, including Ohio State and Butler.
There have also been multiple visits to Indiana, including recently competing at the team camp and watching the Hoosiers workout. He didn’t need directions for that visit.
Now Leal’s expanding game and the growing interest is materializing in the national rankings. He made his first appearance in the Top 150 when Rivals updated their list on Friday. Leal debuted at 122nd in the class of 2020. He also just debuted in the 247Sports rankings at 94th.
Growing up in the shadows of Indiana basketball, Leal has always had an appreciation for the game and the IU program.
“As a Bloomington boy, he’s had the privilege of seeing some pretty phenomenal basketball,” Leal’s mother Sherry told The Daily Hoosier. “Even as a youngster, he was fortunate enough to spend time and play in Assembly Hall and Cook Hall. Living in Indiana, he understands the tradition the game has throughout the state.”
The other thing he’s had the privilege of doing as a Bloomington boy was getting his photo taken with a current Bloomington-based Indiana player. He’s a student of the game. Like Jordan Hulls before him, Leal knew what he had to do, even at a young age. He even threw in a future NBA All-Star for good measure.
The significance of what is transpiring for Anthony right now isn’t lost on the family.
“Now that he is getting some national exposure and going on visits, the realization that this is happening has been exciting for the family,” Ms. Leal told The Daily Hoosier.
Anthony isn’t taking anything for granted either. After arriving home at 10:30 P.M. at the conclusion of a long day after one of those recent college visits, Leal did something that makes the Indiana kids a little different.
He went to the gym and got in a shooting workout.
As his 4.3 GPA would indicate, Leal is smart enough to know that while his star is rising, he still has a long way to go. His mom believes his work ethic will get him where he wants to be.
“Basketball is in his blood and he is as hard working as anyone out there. He has a true passion for the game.”
Sooner or later, that passion seems destined to land the Bloomington native an IU offer. If that happens and it is the right fit for Leal, he might do well to be on the lookout for a surge of photo requests from young Bloomington boys.
We’re sure that he would gladly carry the torch.
You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier
Find us on Facebook: thedailyhoosier
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”
Seven ways to support completely free IU coverage at no additional cost to you.