It was no secret. Despite a thunderous start, Tom Crean lost his way recruiting within the borders of Indiana.
After securing the likes of Jordan Hulls, Cody Zeller, Yogi Ferrell and others, things went south in-state. If Crean had continued to win at a high level, it would not have mattered. But when you are missing on Gary Harris, Zak Irvin, Caleb Swanigan, Trey Lyles and Kyle Guy — and you are missing the NCAA Tournament — well, you know what happened.
We’ve said it before, and at this point there is really no denying it. As the head coach at Indiana, recruiting in-state matters. A lot.
Fast forward to the Archie Miller era, and things seem different. Indiana is winning in-state recruiting wars that they haven’t won in decades. Damezi Anderson was the first South Bend area kid to come to IU since the early 70’s. Robert Phinisee was plucked from Purdue’s back yard. Now the Hoosiers are in good shape with Brandon Newman from the northwest corner of the state — an IU black hole.
It is still early days in the Miller era, and things could change once again. For now, the mojo seems to be back. But you don’t have to take our word for it.
Outside of the program itself, the biggest difference makers in what ultimately happens with in-state talent are the Indiana high school and AAU coaches that interact with the players on a day-to-day basis. Jason Delaney is both of those guys — at the highest levels in the state.
Delaney has been the head basketball coach at Cathedral since 2016, one of the state’s top programs. Before that he coached Tech and Trey Lyles to an Indiana high school state title.
He is also the head coach of the state’s top AAU program — the Indy Heat. This is a team that features Keion Brooks, Jr., Trayce Jackson-Davis, Isaiah Thompson and others. Year in and year out the Indy Heat features some of the top talent in the state, with high-major Division One talent in abundance.
A lot of people like to talk about college basketball recruiting, with predictions and so-called inside information. But when Jason Delaney talks about recruiting within the state of Indiana, you had better listen. There is probably no one in the state that has his finger more on the pulse of the current climate than Delaney.
Delaney joined the “Hoosier Report” with Matt Denison on Tuesday to discuss a number of things IU related including the perception of the IU basketball program at the high school level and in the grass roots circles.
“IU’s rolling right now….getting Romeo, you can’t downplay how important that was for IU basketball and Archie, and you know the staff builds relationships, Ed Schilling….just how he builds relationships and he’s great with skill development…..Archie’s really got it going at IU right now….when I talk to our guys at Cathedral, and Trayce and Keion, they have nothing but positive things to say about the coaching staff and the environment and IU basketball.”
We’d argue that there has not been a more eye-opening statement about the IU coaching staff and the state of Indiana basketball since Miller was hired.
Delaney was also asked about whether he believes in the concept of recruiting momentum that we discussed here a couple weeks ago.
“I do. Trayce and Keion attract other players because they play the right way….so if you can get one or two of those guys you are going to get other players because they want to play with guys like that.”
Delaney also left no doubt that in Jackson-Davis and Brooks, IU is not only going after the top talent in the state, but also high character, high basketball IQ guys that Hoosier fans can feel good about as potential stars in Bloomington.
“They are outstanding guys and outstanding teammates and they compliment each other so well…they make the guys around them better….you can talk basketball with Trayce and Keion and they see the game”
Finally, as it relates to Armaan Franklin, who plays at Cathedral under Delaney, it is clear that the IU staff has done a solid job developing that relationship.
“The biggest thing is relationships and he’s built that relationship with the IU coaching staff….and they are recruiting a lot of the same guys that he’s friends with like Trayce Jackson-Davis and Keion Brooks and some of these guys that he knows really well.”
Franklin is also AAU teammates with Newman, who IU offered last week.
That last point is critical. All of these kids know each other. They all talk. That is how momentum can build quickly, or in the case of Crean, how it can fall apart.
The interview also includes more interesting comments from Delaney on Franklin, who Indiana offered last month, including a comment that Franklin is “really high on IU”. There is also a discussion of Kamari Lands, an incoming Cathedral freshman that will be a name to know for the future.
We highly recommend you listen to the full interview below. The segment with Delaney begins around the 30 minute mark.
If you weren’t high on the state of Indiana basketball already, we suspect you will be after you listen.
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