College basketball recruiting is way more art than science.
Nobody knows that better than Jordan Hulls.
There was a time when Hulls, a star at Bloomington South H.S., couldn’t get a look from college programs. Early on in fact, he was the recruiter.
“I was sending out tapes to anybody who would even take a look at it when I wasn’t getting heavily recruited,” Hulls said last week during a Q&A session with the media.
Running with the well-known Indiana Elite program, Hulls wasn’t particularly tall or athletic relative to the other players on the floor on the AAU circuit.
But surrounded by the right travel teammates, Hulls capitalized on a big weekend in front of a bevy of coaches to finally kickstart his recruitment.
It is difficult to imagine that a player who finished his IU career ranked 30th in scoring with 1,318 points, was fourth in career three-point field goal percentage (44.1%) and third in career free throw percentage (85.9%) could have flown under the radar.
But if it wasn’t for a strong showing over a weekend in Pittsburgh, it is hard to say what path Hulls’ basketball career might have followed.
The path he did ultimately take has now led him back to Bloomington after nine years playing professional basketball overseas.
And now Hulls truly is sitting in that chair of the recruiter, as Indiana’s new Team and Recruiting Coordinator.
Part of his task is to find the diamonds in the rough that he was 15 years ago, and through the lens of his own recruitment and a lifetime around the game, Hulls feels like he has a head start on what to look for. He was out on the road last weekend at the annual Charlie Hughes Shootout in the north Indianapolis suburbs getting his first look at the state’s top talent in his new role.
“To go see that in person, that really helps me,” Hulls said. “You can see how they control the game or their fundamentals. They are not turning the ball over. They are good teammates. Those kinds of things go a long way.
“Obviously, you can tell from a guy, you know, if you look at a guy like me who wasn’t, you know, most physically looking person in the world, you know, but you can just tell with some people that they just got it, whether or not they are super athlete or if they are this or if they are that. So, for me, I think it’s paying attention to the details and those are things that really helped me personally was just staying the course and knowing that I was doing the right things.”
“So, it’s me adjusting to that but also applying those pro philosophies that I’ve learned and really try to pick out certain things or characteristics that guys have. That’s the fun part for me is diving in and seeing the players that have the intangibles to help us succeed or whatever comes with that. That’s a very exciting thing for me to try and just watch good basketball, watch good players and try to get those guys.”
Still, Hulls is reminded after a short weekend seeing dozens of players, it is easy for good talent to be overlooked like he initially was. He is embracing the challenge of finding the under-the-radar kids who can be a good fit at the high-major level.
“Obviously, it’s a crazy, crazy atmosphere,” Hulls said. “There are so many different kids in the country, so just knowing that you’ve got to go out there and work. I know that is what worked for me and that’s still a good recipe for kids out there today. I think learning more about the kids and how they work, for me, is you know, is something that I’ll be looking forward to.”
In addition to playing professional basketball, Hulls has operated AAU and training programs since leaving IU. In that process, he’s built a wide-ranging network both in the U.S. and beyond.
When it comes to his ability to succeed in this new role, Hulls believes those relationships, both to find and ultimately win recruiting battles, will be key.
“For me, whether it’s business or recruiting or whatever, relationships are everything, and that’s how I’m treating that here as well,” Hulls said. “So, I know that’s very important for me and I know that’s important when I was going through the process as well, but you’re going to be playing and devoting your life to the school academically but also on the court. So, you want to make sure that it’s the right fit for you, and I’m doing the best that I can with that.”
It didn’t take Hulls long to find the right fit when it came to his own recruitment.
When things finally did take off, the list of suitors was impressive. He went from zero offers to nine in a week, with Duke, Stanford and Purdue among those in the mix.
But the Bloomington kid with a lifetime of ties to IU didn’t have to think to hard about his own decision.
“My recruiting process was fairly short once I got the offer from Indiana, I maybe waited two more weeks and then I decided to commit,” he said. “So that process for me, I have maybe a little bit different version than most.”
It was the realization of a dream for Hulls. Now he sits in the chair of the recruiter. And no doubt, he’ll make a few phone calls that will be a dream come true for under-recruited players like he was.
When Hulls finds that player and gives him his first call from a high major, or an in-state kid his first contact from a dream school like IU?
I’ll probably have a special place in my heart for that,” Hulls said.
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