Alkins says Indiana recruiting him hardest #iubb

FISHERS — Thomas Bryant won’t arrive on campus for another month and a half, but he’s already giving Indiana basketball a boost.

The 6-foot-10 center found his way to Best Choice Fieldhouse on Saturday, where he caught up with 2016 Indiana target Rawle Alkins during the second day of the adidas Uprising Indianapolis Gauntlet tournament. In between AAU games, the two talked, and Bryant made his pitch.

“We could take IU by storm,” Bryant told Alkins.

Bryant, whose signing with Indiana became official this week, is only the latest player inside the Hoosiers’ program to make an attempt at wooing Alkins, a four-star two-guard from New York City who is considered among the top 30 players in next year’s class.

But Bryant wasn’t the only one recruiting Alkins this weekend. IU coach Tom Crean stopped in early Saturday morning, director of operations Rob Judson — who can spend time on the road while the program searches for a replacement for assistant Steve McClain — spent much of the day in Indianapolis and then there were the fans decked out in Hoosier garb.

Alkins saw them all.

“They’re showing a lot of love,” Alkins said. “They told me they were going to be here. I get all their tweets. They tweet me, and I see all of the Hoosier Nation. It’s great.”

Duke, Kentucky, Texas, VCU, Villanova, Kansas, Louisville, N.C. State and St. John’s are among the other programs currently in the mix for Alkins, who averaged almost 30 points per game during the first weekend of the Gauntlet tournament earlier this month in Dallas. Those performances generated considerably more attention for the 6-foot-5 guard, but Alkins says no one is recruiting him harder than Indiana.

“I love their mail,” Alkins said. “They send me pictures in IU uniforms, and they just show me a lot of love.”

His connections to Indiana run deep. The lead recruiter is Chuck Martin, with his vast ties to East Coast recruiting and, more specifically, the New York City area. But Alkins also has a former high school teammate who’s already in Bloomington.

Alkins played with Jordan Fuchs at Christ The King High School, and said his former teammate has reached out.

“Jordan, I guess they’re using him as a recruitment guy for me,” Alkins said. “… I would say they’re probably recruiting me the hardest right now.”

Alkins didn’t have his best showing during Saturday’s games and didn’t look as strong moving without the ball as he did with it in his hands. Extra defensive attention after his explosive first weekend of the Gauntlet tournament may have also had something to do with it.

But that won’t sway the interest of the programs that are involved the most.

Alkins, who visited Bloomington for last October’s Hoosier Hysteria, asked the Indiana coaching staff if he could return Friday night for an unofficial visit. Because this is a live recruiting period, he was not allowed.

But Alkins knows he’s one of Indiana’s top targets. The visits, the mail and the general overtures have grabbed his attention. He said he doesn’t have a list of his favorite schools ready to be released, but IU has made its impact.

Crean and his staff see him fitting into James Blackmon Jr.’s role if he commits to Indiana.

“They want me to be that guy,” Alkins said.