The dominoes are falling fast in the class of 2021.
And thus far, they aren’t landing in Bloomington.
Last week Illinois based top-35 forward Bryce Hopkins committed to Kentucky. That one was widely expected.
Today was a bit of a stunner. Sellersburg, Ind. top-50 forward Trey Kaufman has announced that he is headed to West Lafayette. We’ll wait while you compose yourself.
With the college basketball early signing period just weeks away, Indiana still has but one commitment in its 2021 class. Interestingly, that commit, center Logan Duncomb, is from Ohio.
The in-state class of 2021 has been written about for more than two years.
Five-star point guard Khristian Lander was the headliner, and of course he reclassified and is on the IU roster for the upcoming season.
But five other in-state 2021 players in the 247Sports Composite top-150, Caleb Furst (Purdue), Kaufman (Purdue), Blake Wesley (uncommitted), Luke Goode (Illinois), and J.R. Konieczny (Notre Dame) will be playing elsewhere next year.
To be sure, Indiana never offered Goode or Konieczny, and they backed off their recruitment of Wesley. But many believed that this highly talented in-state class would become the foundation of head coach Archie Miller’s long-term success in Bloomington.
Instead, for the first time in his tenure at IU, Miller is going to have to turn his “inside-out” recruiting emphasis, well, outside-in, in order to salvage his 2021 class.
Where might the fourth year head coach look to do that? Let’s examine.
As we have written here extensively, Indiana’s recent focus at forward in the class of 2021 had been focused on Kaufman, Hopkins, and Mason Miller.
The most likely scenario has always been that IU would land one but likely not more than one of the trio. So if you are able to maintain an optimistic view on a day like today, there it is. Indiana is still in the hunt for one of its three primary forward targets.
A top-70 four-star prospect, the 6-foot-9 Miller has been tied primarily to IU and Creighton in multiple reports, with LSU, Ohio State and Texas Christian also apparently in the picture.
The Memphis, Tenn. product and son of former NBA star Mike Miller has never been to the IU campus, which complicates his timeline.
Indiana’s top remaining 2021 guard target is 5-star Missouri based shooting guard Aminu Mohammed.
In our in-depth update with Mohammed a few weeks ago, he indicated that IU was one of the top schools involved in his recruitment along with Georgia and Georgetown. There is speculation that Mohammed could pursue a straight to the NBA G-League path, but that is something that his guardian Shawn Harmon said has not really been evaluated in a 247Sports report ($) this week.
Landing Miller and Mohammed along with Duncomb would give Indiana the No. 10 ranked class using the 247Sports Class Calculator based on current commitments. The three-man crew rate just a tick below Indiana’s four-man 2020 class which ended up No. 16 nationally.
But beyond Miller and Mohammed, things are less clear, which obviously puts pressure on Indiana to land them. A quick review of the 247Sports top-100 shows just 16 uncommitted players overall, with most of them well down their respective paths. IU offered top-ten 5-star Hunter Sallis, but that one is a major uphill battle.
Two other 2021 front court names that have arisen on the radar more recently are Jai Smith and Mustapha Amzil. Smith is actually a 2022 prospect that may reclassify, while Amzil is a quickly emerging international prospect. Both have heard from IU recently.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL “FREE AGENCY” COMING IN 2021
If none of this has you feeling terribly optimistic about Indiana’s potential 2021-22 roster additions, there are other key variables floating off in the not too distant future worth keeping in mind.
First, the NCAA just granted every college basketball player a free year of eligibility. So at least in theory, the 2020-21 Hoosiers could be the 2021-22 Hoosiers. Al Durham and Joey Brunk could return as fifth and sixth year seniors if they so choose and the program welcomes them back.
Also theoretical is the idea that preseason All-American forward Trayce Jackson-Davis will return in 2021-22. Ultimately his NBA Draft projections will drive that decision.
It isn’t clear right now whether the NCAA will increase the current men’s basketball scholarship limit of 13. So for a number of reasons, just how many open roster spots IU will have in 2021-22 remains to be seen. In any case, Miller seems to like to keep the number of scholarship players on his roster down to around no more than 11.
The NCAA also appears set to eliminate the rule that requires transfers to sit out a year, making a one-time exception. That should lead to a wave of available players on the market that we know nothing about right now.
Of course the transfers can and likely will go in both directions next spring and summer.
But the point being, missing out on a coveted recruit, while painful right now, is a relatively minor point in what projects to be a Wild West style 2021.
The impact of missing on Kaufman isn’t likely to be felt immediately, if at all. He wasn’t likely to leapfrog program veterans Race Thompson, Jerome Hunter and Jordan Geronimo in 2021-22. So it will now be up to Miller and his staff to navigate the uncharted waters and patch over what was undeniably a big longer-term miss for future seasons down the road.
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