With a point guard and center locked up in the class of 2021, Indiana is focused on filling the positions in between.
What seems clear, and what the IU coaches are telling their remaining targets on the board, is that the Hoosiers are going for a home run 2021 class.
That is Indiana head coach Archie Miller’s message to five-star guard Aminu Mohammed.
“He (Miller) thinks that if they can add Aminu to go along with (2021 point guard commit) Khristian Lander, he thinks that would be one of the most talented backcourts in the country,” Mohammed’s guardian Shawn Harmon told The Daily Hoosier.
The conversations between the IU coaching staff and Mohammed have picked up considerably in recent months, and the message to the Missouri based elite scorer is clear. Mohammed is one of Indiana’s top priorities in the class of 2021.
One glance at the numbers helps to explain the emphasis on Mohammed, whose junior season statistics almost don’t seem real. He averaged 34.8 points, 15.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.5 blocks per game to lead Greenwood Laboratory School to a 26-4 mark.
Now the challenge for Miller and his staff is to not only show Mohammed how much they want him in Bloomington, but why the 6-foot-4 national top-20 talent is a good fit.
That has been the focus of recent discussions, including a lengthy video conference on Wednesday where Miller and assistant coach Bruiser Flint tried to illustrate how they can utilize Mohammed’s skills in their offensive system.
“They went through a lot of details on how he would be used in their system, and different things they like to do with their guards,” Harmon said.
Although he is often described as a small forward or wing, Indiana is recruiting Mohammed to play guard, and they showed video of Romeo Langford, Devonte Green, and Armaan Franklin to highlight sets that could be run for Mohammed.
“They envision him being a big combo guard and they are showing a lot of stuff in terms of having him come off down screens, and how they would like to use him in their transition offense, Harmon told The Daily Hoosier.
“They think he is an elite scorer, but they want to put him in a position where guys can’t always put their hands on him. They want to use him in high ball screens in between the elbows where he can get downhill quicker.”
Mohammed scores most of his points on the move, using his big physical frame and athleticism to impose his will.
Indiana’s coaches are hitting the right notes when it comes to marrying up Mohammed’s talents with their system.
“I think it fits the type of player he is. Obviously there are things he might not be doing right now in high school, but I think those are things that he is able to incorporate in his game,” Harmon said.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has relegated the discussion to videos and phone calls, Indiana was able to make a strong in person impression with Mohammed in January when he visited for the Maryland game.
It was a brief visit, as Mohammed and Harmon drove in and out from Missouri on the same day. But an electric atmosphere inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall stood out.
“It was great. He (Mohammed) said ‘they are right on top of you.’ You get a real feel for fan engagement. He really liked it,” Harmon said.
The conversation with strength coach Clif Marshall also still resonates.
“We had a very good conversation with him (Marshall),” Harmon said. “His ideas in terms of the way he trains the athletes, I was very impressed with what he does with the players. Physically you can tell he’s doing a good job with the players.”
At 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, Mohammed already has the raw attributes that a high major strength coach could develop. He uses that size and length to put up those impressive rebounding averages. But there is something else to Mohammed’s game that makes him attractive to college coaches.
“Most of it is just outworking other people,” Harmon said of how Mohammed is able to pull down so many rebounds. “I just think it is a learned thing for him in terms of having a nose for the ball and going and getting it.”
Although he is a five-star, Mohammed has at least one area of his game that he needs to further develop, especially if he is going to be a guard in college.
“He has to be more consistent knocking down that perimeter jump shot,” Harmon said.
While Mohammed shot 57.6 percent from the field overall as a junior, that included a 32 percent rate from long range.
The pandemic has changed Mohammed’s plans when it comes to his recruitment. Official visits to Indiana and other schools were in the works for the spring.
The plan now is to stay in touch with the primary schools and get the visits scheduled when the restrictions are lifted. A visit to IU is still a high priority.
“We definitely want to do the official visit,” Harmon said. “We really want to get a taste of that tradition of what Indiana has been.”
Other likely stops are Louisville and Maryland, both of which are in constant contact with Mohammed. Kansas State, SMU and Pittsburgh are other schools that are showing interest.
Mohammed grew up in the Washington D.C. area before moving to Missouri. The school he chooses won’t have much to do with geography.
“It’s all about a good fit. We don’t see geography being a big factor in his choice.” Harmon said.
But that choice, wherever it is, is likely still a good bit down the road.
“His birthday is in December. We were really thinking about him committing around his birthday but it’s possible we could do it during the early signing period (in November),” Harmon said.
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