Most recruiting stories today have a transactional feel.
How much playing time and how much NIL?
When Mackenzie Mgbako decommitted from Duke, those certainly seemed like two of the more relevant issues that would be front and center for any school that tried to recruit him.
But things started out a little different when it came to IU and Mgbako.
According to IU assistant coach Kenya Hunter, it was Mgbako’s mother who started out being the recruiter, and Indiana the recruited.
“Mackenzie’s deal is kind of unique because the crazy thing is Mackenzie’s mom reached out to coach Woodson with a text,” Hunter said on the Hoosier Hysterics podcast last week. “And so that’s initially how it got started. We didn’t know him, but just obviously (Mgbako) being from the New Jersey area, and Coach (Woodson) being a Knicks guy, and just the people around. So she actually reached out to coach first and inquired about us recruiting her son. So that’s initially how it kind of came about.”
Obviously that is not the typical way a recruitment starts for a national top-10, 5-star prospect. And it may help explain why people were misreading Mgbako’s recruitment.
When Mgbako decommitted from Duke, many suspected he’d go to Louisville to follow assistant coach Nolan Smith, who had recruited him to the Blue Devils.
When it was revealed that St. John’s, Louisville, Kansas and Indiana would get visits from Mgbako, Indiana wasn’t looked at as the most likely choice. And after he visited Kansas, they Jayhawks became the perceived favorite.
But it seems clear based on what Hunter revealed, the Mgbako family wasn’t listening to any outside noise. They were running their own race.
And once Mgbako got on the IU campus, it became clear he was having an enjoyable visit, with smiles that are hard to fake.
Sources told The Daily Hoosier the IU staff felt the Mgbako visit went as well as it possibly could have. And they started to realize their chances were improving right away.
“Once he came to campus, it was over,” Hunter said.
— Adam Howard (@adamhoward0) May 16, 2023
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