Indiana will lose Race Thompson and almost certainly Trayce Jackson-Davis after the 2022-23 season, and they are without a frontcourt commitment in the class of 2023.
That means whether via the transfer portal or the traditional high school route, adding a big man or two to next year’s team remains a priority.
One rising senior the IU staff has seen multiple times this fall is IMG Academy 7-footer Braden Pierce.
On Wednesday, head coach Mike Woodson made the trip down to the Florida prep school to evaluate Pierce and his teammates firsthand, he confirmed with The Daily Hoosier.
Pierce seems to be on the right path. He started out in the class of 2022 at Woodstock (Ga.) River Ridge High. The 7-foot, 230-pounder then decided this summer to attend IMG Academy and play for its post-graduate national team and become a member of the class of 2023.
Part of the slow-track in Pierce’s development came because he didn’t start focusing on basketball until after his sophomore year in high school. Prior to that he was on a dual-path as a baseball pitcher.
Pierce does not currently appear in any national rankings, although that could change on the next round of updates if he continues his ascent. Rivals’ national analyst Dan McDonald called Pierce “one of the most improved prospects in the class,” over the summer, while 247Sports’ national analyst Eric Bossi said Pierce “will be one to watch during a prep school year at IMG. He has some touch around the rim, runs pretty well and has a bit of a mean streak in him.”
Pierce considers himself a stretch-five, and on film he does show some ability to make perimeter shots and take his man off the bounce. The IU staff is no doubt watching to see how that part of his game translates against high-end competition, how he further develops, and how Pierce projects on the defensive end.
Over the last four months he’s pulled in offers from high majors such as Seton Hall, N.C. State, and Rutgers, with the Seton Hall offer coming in just the last few days. Several mid-majors have offered as well, and Indiana joins a host of high majors keeping close watch, including Florida State, Georgia, Iowa and Georgia Tech.
The Indiana staff wants to keep an eye on him to see how the intensive development and competition at IMG pays off. That’s the message Pierce is getting as recently as yesterday from IU, he tells The Daily Hoosier.
Pierce is someone IU has been aware of for a while. He played spring and summer basketball for the 2023 Atlanta Express. It’s worth noting he was teammates on that squad with IU class of 2023 guard commit Jakai Newton.
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