Indiana offered Montverde Academy 5-star forward Malik Reneau back in 2021, but it was a pursuit that didn’t last long.
Head coach Mike Woodson knew it was going to be an uphill battle, and it was.
“I knew I had no shot at him early on and he committed to go to Florida,” Woodson recalled at an alumni event in May.
Florida head coach Mike White left for Georgia after former IU coach Tom Crean was fired, and Woodson grinned as someone in the crowd reminded him of that turn of events and laughter ensued.
White’s departure led to Reneau reopening his recruitment.
And Woodson was all business when he learned that the coveted prospect was back on the market.
“When he became available I told (assistant coach) Kenya (Hunter), ‘man, you’ve gotta get him on the phone and let me talk to the kid,'” Woodson recalled.
“I happened to be in Jupiter (Fla.) at the time, and I called him and asked him (Reneau) if he’d give me a private workout.
“So I drove from Jupiter down to Orlando, and he gave me a private workout. And I sat with him, and it was an unbelievable workout, and I said ‘hey man, you’ve got to come to Bloomington and at least give me an opportunity to recruit you and bring your mom and dad up. Just do that for me.’ And he did.”
Reneau went straight from the Jordan Brand Classic in Chicago to Bloomington along with his family and Montverde teammate Jalen Hood-Schifino.
“He came to Bloomington, and he just kind of had me on this rollercoaster ride the whole two days, and I’m like ‘I don’t know what this kid’s gonna do,'” Woodson said.
By the final day of his visit, Reneau had Woodson on pins and needles.
“So we get to the restaurant, and I’m sitting across from him, his mom is sitting next to him, and we’re having this small talk, and I’m like shit man, come on. I’m like ‘you’re going to have to tell me something,’ and he said ‘hey coach, I’ve gotta talk to you for a minute.’
“So I said ‘okay, what ya got?’ And he said ‘no, we’ve gotta go outside.’
“So I go outside on the street, and I’m like, ‘what’s going on?’ And he said ‘coach, I’m coming to Indiana.’
Woodson’s second chance at recruiting Reneau turned out much better than the first.
And this time he wasn’t letting go.
“Man I jumped into that kid’s arms, and we walked back into that restaurant, and there were a lot of people in that restaurant that morning, and I just did this (holds up arms) ‘YES!’ And everybody knew (that he had committed).”
(Reneau and his fellow 2022 classmates arrived in Indiana on Thursday)
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