Mike Woodson and his staff haven’t won a game yet on the basketball court.
But off it, the feedback has been consistently positive, and the good vibes have been amplified since in person visits opened back up this month. The bottom line? This staff seems to make connections and lasting impressions to a much greater extent than what we’ve seen recently at IU.
Whether it was re-recruiting his own team, winning in the transfer portal, or landing a five-star high school product like Tamar Bates, Woodson has shown the ability to win and win big off the court. And the now recurring theme is this — Woodson is the genuine article, and despite spending 40 years in the NBA, doesn’t seem to have a drop of arrogance in him.
It all resulted in a series of quick strike wins in his first few months on the job, and now Woodson’s long game will be tested. Can he establish a maintain strong relationships with high school prospects for more than a year? Will his approach continue to resonate over time?
The early returns from the high school ranks are just as positive.
On Thursday top-50 class of 2023 prospect Kaleb Glenn took an unofficial visit to the IU campus. He brought along his high school coach — Louisville Male’s Tim Haworth. Winning over high school coaches is almost as important as the players. They’ll continue to be in the picture when today’s prospects move on. Haworth has joined Glenn on visits in June to West Virginia and Louisville along with IU. He has been in the business for 20 years and knows what to expect. But even the veteran coach couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for the new IU staff.
“Any high major school, they are all going to have the facilities, I’ve been around that stuff for the last 20 years, so I’m not really blown away by facilities or those kind of things,” Haworth told The Daily Hoosier. “But what I was blown away by was how personable Mike Woodson is, Dane Fife, Thad Matta, Brian Walsh and the rest of the staff. I was really impressed with their coaching staff, and how much they seem like they love the kids. It seems like it was all about relationships.
“I was really listening to Mike Woodson, and how much he talked about Coach (Bob) Knight and how much he meant to him, and that means a lot to me because at the end of the day when it is all said and done, you’ve got to have really good relationships between your players and coaches.”
The hometown connections run deep in this recruitment. Glenn’s father Vic was a wide receiver at the University of Louisville. And Male High School is just five minutes from that campus.
But despite the local ties, Haworth believes Glenn’s recruitment is wide open.
“I don’t think that has any impact on his recruiting whatsoever,” Haworth said. “I think he wants to go to a place where he feels like it is a family atmosphere and he is challenged to get better every day so he can reach his dreams of going to the NBA.”
— KG (@ka1ebglenn) June 24, 2021
Perhaps intrigued by Woodson’s NBA background, Glenn seems to have prioritized Indiana as one of his top schools. At least according to one report, Glenn reshuffled his visit schedule to get the Indiana visit in this week.
“Any time Indiana has offered you and they want you, that is something where you definitely have to be honored by it, and I think Kaleb realizes what Indiana basketball is all about,” Haworth told The Daily Hoosier. “And I definitely think Mike Woodson’s NBA background resonates with him because that’s where he wants to be eventually, so I think that’s really had a profound effect on him. And then to find out that he’s really just a good person, it’s a pretty cool mix.”
While he wants a coach to help him get to the NBA, Glenn already physically looks like a professional athlete. That’s where his father comes in, who Haworth said once trained under IU strength coach Clif Marshall at Louisville.
“His dad, they lift a lot there at his house,” Haworth said. “His dad just has such a level head, and to already have been a Division One athlete, it is an advantage for Caleb.
“He’s got the frame. His body is going to NBA ready. He’s got something that most people don’t have, and that’s that drive to get better every day. Even last night (after the IU visit) he wanted to go lift weights rather than go get something to eat. Most kids aren’t going to have that mindset.”
Haworth wasn’t the only one impressed with IU on Thursday. The visit moved the needle for Glenn as well.
Will the Hoosiers be a key player in this recruitment going forward?
“Oh 100 percent,” Haworth said. “There is no doubt in my mind that Indiana is a major player in his recruitment. And I’m super excited about it honestly, just hearing those guys’ vision for the program, it just makes me excited as the high school coach of Kaleb that he has an opportunity to go somewhere that has that kind of vision, and then you also can’t get away from the history of Indiana basketball.”
Vision is a word Haworth used over and over in our conversation. He knows something about taking over a historic program with a vision. With legendary alums like Ralph Beard, Darrell Griffith, and Winston Bennett, Louisville Male has claimed four Kentucky state titles. Hired in 2018, Haworth led them to a 31-4 record and their first regional title in 18 years in 2020. And Haworth left Bloomington believing in Woodson’s vision for rejuvenating the IU program.
How would he summarize that vision, both for Glenn and for IU basketball?
“Just what they see for him (Glenn) down the road, and how they see him as a centerpiece for what they want to do,” Haworth said. “I’m big on family, and big on culture. That’s something that we try to do at Male, we try to have a great culture, with an expectation for winning championships, and that doesn’t happen overnight. I just see where they’re wanting to go with this whole program, and I honestly really believe that they are going to win, and win at a high level.”
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