D.J. Carton has us stumped. After narrowing down his list to a final three on Sunday evening, he is reportedly planning to announce a commitment in the next couple weeks. Instinctively, such an abbreviated timeline would suggest that he has his mind pretty much made up, right? Why put yourself on that schedule if you are truly still undecided? Of course he is not bound to commit soon if he needs more time.
But then it came out that he was planning to take an official visit to Ohio State. That visit started today. If he had truly decided or was heavily leaning one way, would he even bother with another official visit? That is unless of course he was leaning towards the Buckeyes after also taking a two-day unofficial visit there recently.
If you ask just about anyone that covers recruiting, the conventional wisdom has Carton going to Michigan. We said today on the radio that if pressed, that’s where we would have to guess he ends up. Honestly though, that’s probably just us being influenced by what everyone else is saying. No one seems to have a really strong conviction one way or the other.
We think there is a strong case to be made that says Carton will choose Indiana. Let’s walk through it.
THE IU COACHING STAFF
Archie Running the Point
We’ve heard over and over that Carton is Archie Miller’s top priority at guard — and Miller has been heavily involved in the recruitment of the Iowa native. Beyond just the strong interest in the five-star point guard, there may be another reason why Miller has been involved. He can relate with Carton on a level that John Beilein and Chris Holtmann cannot.
Playing point guard for North Carolina State, Miller competed at Carton’s position at the highest level of college basketball. He sees the game through a point guard’s eyes. D.J. Carton acknowledges this ($) —
“I feel like developing a point guard under a point guard coach is not just big with the point guard, but it will help with all the players,” Carton said. “I definitely feel like he has a great mind for basketball. I feel like he can get all the players to the level they want to reach and get players to the level where they can win games.”
It merits a completely separate article, but to put it simply here, IU assistant coach Ed Schilling is the real deal. He’s a guy that can look a point guard in the eye and tell them that he has worked closely with and helped develop NBA talents like Yogi Ferrell, Mike Conley, Jeff Teague, Marquis Teague, Lonzo Ball, Zach Livine and others.
Conley should particularly resonate with Carton. His game has been compared to the NBA star.
THE IU EXPERIENCE
We’re sure the experience of hearing a bunch of Duke wannabes in yellow highlighter shirts yell “OHHHHH” for 2 hours at Michigan is invigorating, but we all know that what D.J. Carton saw, heard and experienced at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in January was on another level.
There is no doubt that he was impressed by the game day experience in Bloomington against Purdue. But don’t take our word for it. He said as much here, particularly noting how crazy the fans were during a rebuilding season.
Carton also noted in that video how Victor Oladipo was one of his favorite players to watch growing up. So you have to believe that this moment left a lasting impression.
Michigan and Ohio State are solid programs, but Indiana is different. Everyone knows this, in the same way they know Michigan and Ohio State are different when it comes to football.
Indiana is a basketball state. Assembly Hall at full throat is something special that you have to witness. Those are not our words. Those are D.J.’s.
Carton is on the record saying that going to a winning program is important. Michigan is coming off a national title game appearance. Indiana didn’t make the NIT. That cannot be discounted.
The reality is, these things ebb and flow. Two years ago Indiana was the outright Big Ten Champion. Michigan was 10-8 in the Big Ten that year.
More important, Carton recognizes that Archie Miller has things going in the right direction. With Miller coming off his first year and Beilein his 9th, you can’t really compare last season. Carton said in an interview with Adam Zagoria after Romeo Langford committed that he sees the vision and likes where things are headed:
“I feel like that team’s got a lot of good things in the future and is starting to build a winning culture, so I really like the way they’re going.”
THE RIGHT FIT
There has been some discussion that because Indiana already has Rob Phinisee at point guard, Carton might be compelled to look elsewhere.
Carton and Phinisee are scoring point guards. They can be on the floor at the same time. Villanova and North Carolina played in the 2016 national title game with both teams starting two point guards. Frank Mason and Devonte Graham did just fine at Kansas. This is a non-issue that fans come up with.
With examples like these, it might even be a bonus. Gone are the days of the Chris Reynolds point guard. Two Yogi Ferrells on the court are better than one.
Will Carton ever see the court with Phinisee as a Hoosier? You’re guess is as good as ours, but the odds aren’t as long as you think.
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