Few Indiana fans knew the name Matt Cross before he was offered a scholarship in late April after a breakout performance at the Nike EYBL in Atlanta.
Cross’ 22 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game opening AAU weekend opened a lot of eyes, with at least 10 new offers coming his way in the last month.
The Beverly, Massachusetts native put an exclamation point on that Atlanta session with a 29 point, 8 rebound, 6 assist and 3 steal performance in front of the IU coaches — and that Hoosier offer soon followed.
While the IU coaching staff has had an eye on Cross for several months going back to his junior season of high school, he has been a bit of a late bloomer, at least nationally.
Part of the story behind Cross’ somewhat late emergence is a broken leg that he suffered two years ago playing football.
Fully recovered as a junior at Woodstock Academy last winter, he posted 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists per contest while leading his squad to a 37-2 record. He was teammates at Woodstock with former IU recruiting target Tre Mitchell.
Overall this spring Cross is in the top ten of the Nike EYBL in both points and rebounds per game as he does a bit of everything for his BABC squad.
His offensive efficiency could be better, as he is making just 39.3% of his shots from the field, and just 28.2% from long range. Cross’ impressive stroke suggests a much more talented shooter, and much of the challenge appears to be a struggling BABC team that looks disproportionately to Cross to take on the scoring burden.
Overall, Indiana appears to be in a good spot with the 6-foot-7 forward.
While Cross has said that there is no clear leader for his commitment, at least one outlet indicated that there are rumors that IU has an edge in this one.
Cross also has official visits to South Carolina and Miami coming up in June.
Hometown – Beverly, MA (Woodstock Academy)
Position – Forward
Height – 6-foot-7
Weight – 225
247 Sports Composite Rating – 3-star [not updated to reflect 2019 AAU play]
Primary Competition – South Carolina, Miami, Cincinnati, Xavier, Florida, Iowa
Timeline — Cross has indicated that he would like to wrap up the recruiting process prior to his final high school basketball season. Accordingly, a late summer, early fall commitment appears likely.
Indiana Connections — Archie Miller and assistant coach Bruiser Flint’s east coast connections helped Indiana find Cross. The Hoosiers have been watching him going back to his junior season of high school.
RECRUITING SERVICE ASSESSMENT
“A sturdy built 6-foot-7 wing, Cross is an offensive weapon. He’s a good shooter off plus size for a perimeter prospect. But he’s also able to cut his way to the basket, finish at the rim and he plays a physical brand of basketball.”
— Evan Daniels, 247Sports
Most assessments of Cross include something about his toughness, including this one…
“Cross plays with an undeniable toughness and plays well on both sides of the basketball every possession.”
— New England Recruiting Report
“I was just honored to get a call from him (Archie Miller) and a program like Indiana…..I just appreciate being recognized by coaches and big programs like Indiana.”
“A lot of coaches see me as a mismatch position being able to take bigs off the dribble and smaller guys being able to shoot over the top of them.”
HOW HE FITS AT INDIANA
There is a clear trend in the type of forwards and centers that Archie Miller is offering in the 2020 class. After spending the better part of two seasons mired in a stagnant offense with defenses packing the paint and forcing Indiana to shoot over the top, the Hoosier head coach is placing an emphasis on big men that can stretch the floor.
Cross has a stout enough frame to guard power forwards, while also possessing the ball handling skills, speed, and perimeter shot to create mismatches on the other end. He is similar in stature to Justin Smith, and while he lacks that kind of elite athleticism, he brings a versatility to the floor that the Hoosiers have been lacking in the front court.
Something else that has been missing from IU’s roster during the Miller era has been toughness. Most reviews of Cross’ game mention his grit and bulldog mentality. We saw that first hand at the Nike EYBL in Westfield, Ind.
Perhaps nothing personifies that better than the fact that he is currently sixth overall in the Nike EYBL in rebounding (9.5 per game) despite only being 6-foot-7 and not an elite athlete. Cross has a nose for the ball and isn’t afraid of contact.
The bottom line — you can’t survive in the Big Ten without toughness, and Indiana cannot survive without versatility from its big men. Matt Cross brings both of those key elements and would be an important pickup for IU.
MATT CROSS VIDEO
6’7” pitbull avg’d 22.5 Pts/9 Reb/1.5 Ast/1.5 Stl with three double-doubles during the Indy Session… pic.twitter.com/8ESpFeQjSl
— The Hustle (@TheHoopHustle) May 12, 2019
— The Hustle (@TheHoopHustle) May 1, 2019
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