Indiana’s dramatic win over Purdue on Thursday was thrilling for the players and fans alike.
And the benefits went beyond posting a win against a top-five opponent and ending a long losing streak to the Boilermakers.
The game also created a memorable experience for a high-profile recruiting target of head coach Mike Woodson.
Class of 2023 Finnish guard Miro Little was in Bloomington on his junior year official visit last week, and he sat directly behind the Indiana bench for the 68-65 win over Purdue.
Little was seated at the game next to 2023 point guard commit Gabe Cupps. What they saw was Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in its peak form, filled to the corners of the balconies with students who had waited outside all day in the cold, and a court-storm exclamation point on two hours of basketball nirvana.
“It was amazing!” Little told The Daily Hoosier of the gameday experience at IU. “I have really no other words for it. I am happy for the guys for the win.”
Little’s visit to Indiana capped off a three-school tour as the Helsinki Basketball Academy star fitted in multiple stops in the U.S. to optimize his long journey from Finland.
Indiana is facing stiff competition for Little, a 6-foot-4 point guard with the versatility to play off the ball too. His other two stops were at defending national champion Baylor, and Villanova, which has one two of the last five titles. While those two schools can claim more recent success than IU, they had nothing on the atmosphere in Bloomington. The game Little watched at Baylor had 8,861 fans, while the game at Villanova had 6,501. The Indiana vs. Purdue game appeared to be a capacity crowd of 17,222, more than the first two games combined.
— Mike Schumann @ The Daily Hoosier (@daily_hoosier) January 21, 2022
While IU left a strong gameday impression, it is fair to say the Hoosiers have to overcome the recent on court success at Baylor and Villanova. Interestingly, Indiana’s push to reshape its program back to an elite level is what stood out the most when Little spoke with Woodson.
“The drive for change,” Little said when asked what part of the IU coaching staff messaging resonated with him.
“The staff’s only goal is to bring the program back to the top and all their actions are such. Coach Woodson, when he speaks, you listen. He just has that kind of presence. I have nothing but respect for him.”
Little spent a couple days at IU, so he saw much more than the Purdue game on Thursday. These visits were his best opportunity to really focus in detail on the next stage of his basketball career and find the right fit. Both of his parents were college basketball players in the U.S., so he didn’t go into the visits blind. Little and his family had a good idea of what to focus on at the schools, and several aspects of the Indiana visit stood out.
“You can see and feel the basketball everywhere you go in the city,” Little told The Daily Hoosier of Bloomington. “Academics (at IU) are top of the line, and I also like that there is a huge international community.”
With such a long journey from Finland to the U.S., it won’t be easy for Little to make additional visits. Back home now, he’s focused on finishing out his season with HBA and will then assess whether he has enough information about his top three schools, whether additional visits to other schools are required, and possibly reach a decision on a college destination relatively soon.
“I haven’t decided 100 percent but (Baylor, Indiana and Villanova) are possibly the final three. I will focus now on finishing my season in Finland and will make a decision after the season,” Little said.
Little averaged 20.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game playing in the fall while playing in the top division in Finland.
One decision Little has reached is that he will stay in the class of 2023. He turns 18 in 2022, and a potential reclassification has been considered before ultimately deciding there were too many obstacles.
Indiana has Cupps and Georgia-based guard Jakai Newton as commits in the class of 2023. That they are placing such an emphasis on Little shows their commitment to a more skilled, dynamic and versatile guard and wing-led product in the future.
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”