Indiana is off to a good start as they look to turn a trail blazed by Damezi Anderson into a pipeline.
South Bend based class of 2021 four-star guard Blake Wesley took a junior year official visit to IU this past weekend, and according to his father, the Hoosiers made a strong impression.
“We had a great time. I would say that they hit one out of the park,” Derrick Wesley told The Daily Hoosier.
Hailing from Riley High School, Anderson became the first scholarship basketball player from that city to attend IU since Tom Abernathy in 1973. Now Indiana is pursuing his former teammate Wesley as the Hoosiers look to build recruiting momentum in a part of the state that had produced very little over the last 50 years.
While Wesley’s recruitment still has a long way to go, the family can tell that Indiana is prioritizing the top 100 prospect.
“We definitely sense it (the prioritization from IU),” Wesley said.
A clear point of emphasis from head coach Archie Miller as he continues to build out his roster has been players with versatility, and the elder Wesley believes that is what makes his son so appealing to the IU staff.
“I think that’s mainly because he can play multiple positions,” Wesley said. “He can guard the one, the two, the three, maybe in a couple years the four. He’s still got a couple inches to grow. He’s got a nice wingspan, he’s already 6-foot-5. I think they’re looking for a guy that can play three or four positions rather than just a guy that can maybe play one. Having the flexibility of guys that are 6-foot-5 to 6-foot-7, that’s never going to hurt you.”
The official visit centered around Saturday’s game against Troy.
Arriving on Friday and staying until Sunday, the family was able to see the complete game routine from practice through post-game.
“We went basically through a game routine. We got to see practice on Friday, shootaround on Saturday, pre-meal, post-meal and all of the other stuff that goes into it,” Derrick Wesley told The Daily Hoosier.
An eye opening aspect of the weekend was the physical nature of the high major game.
“Practice really showed how physical guys are in the Big Ten,” Wesley said. “And then you could see how much more physical they were than the other team (Troy) and how that had an impact on the game early. The physicality for players at that level was really eye opening for him.”
Wesley indicated that IU Director of Athletic Performance Clif Marshall is now someone that they know and speak with to help get Blake ready for college over the next two years.
Stylistically, one aspect of Indiana’s system, and one player, stood out to the Wesley family.
“We liked the offensive pace, Wesley said.
“He’s (Blake) one of those players that gets out and runs, and we saw a lot of that from Al (Durham). He really pushes the ball forward and makes things happen. We noticed that the wings can bring the ball up after rebounds, so he doesn’t have to bring the ball down all the time and he can get into position to shoot and put pressure on the defense on the other end.
“So that all pays a part in how we want to play at the next level and that plays into his strengths as far as being a quick player.”
With the family being familiar with Anderson and other players on the team, one thing they were specifically looking for was indications of player development.
They left satisfied in that regard.
“One of the things that we really looked for and did see is that the players improved from last year with their confidence level and things of that nature,” Wesley said.
Specifically as it relates to Anderson, Wesley has been pleased not only with the development but with the way both he and IU have handled the situation after a choppy freshman season.
“We were really happy with his (Anderson) development to date and his patience. It’s nice to see that both they (IU) and he had the patience,” Wesley said.
Indiana drove home the South Bend connections all weekend, as Wesley spent plenty of time not only with Anderson, but also with Armaan Franklin, who also grew up in the northern Indiana city.
The Indiana visit is expected to be Wesley’s last until after the high school basketball season. A stop at Ohio State in April is a possibility.
Bigger picture, Wesley appears to be about a year away from making a decision.
Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Xavier and Butler are some of the top contenders right now.
The elder Wesley indicated that relationships will be critical over the next year, and Indiana has solidified their standing in that regard with a strong visit over the weekend.
“We feel like we have a relationship with them after this weekend,” Wesley said.
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