Previewing the adidas Invitational

The center of the college basketball universe may very well be Indianapolis Wednesday.

With the start of the adidas Invitational, headquartered at North Central High School but played at various gyms in the area, many of the nation’s top coaches (Indiana’s Tom Crean, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Florida’s Billy Donovan were all visitors last season) will have a chance to watch the nation’s top high school basketball players compete.

It’s the start of the first 10-day July evaluation period, allowing the coaches to watch the players for the first time since April (and that was only in the high schools, during open gyms). With that in mind, here are five storylines to watch this week (the tournament runs through Saturday).

Here, also, is our IU-focused schedule of events.

How does Tom Crean spend his time?

The Hoosiers already have verbal commitments from nine players — five in the Class of 2012, two in 2013 and two in 2014.

The trick for Crean is trying to balance the desire to see as many players as he can in the future classes while still keeping tabs on his current commitments. It’s typically important to committed players that their coach still keep tabs on them even after they’ve made their decisions, so Crean has to be aware of that.

Still, Crean says he doesn’t think that will cause too many problems.

“I don’t think our plan or process for how we do it is gonna change very much,” Crean said. “July is a month where you really have to be a lot of different places at the same time, and sometimes the places are spread out. But at the same time, you can’t let the quantity of what’s out there affect the quality of your evaluation. I don’t think our evaluation will change in any area. We’re going to look at people to see where they need to get better and what they need to improve upon if they want to play for us. The upside is we’ve made great steps in recruiting over the years. Hopefully it keeps coming to fruition for us.”

How will Indiana Elite Team Indiana do?

Much was made during April and May about the struggles of the team featuring Indiana’s class of 2012, as it failed to win a tournament. It all came to a head at the adidas May Classic, when the team lost its first tournament game and guard Ron Patterson stormed off afterwards.

Patterson is playing with Indiana Elite One this month, though there is absolutely no indication his frustration has threated his relationship with Indiana or his future teammates. And Peter Jurkin remains out with a stress fracture in his left shin.

That leaves Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell and Hanner Perea to lead their team against a pool that includes the Atlanta Celtics, Dream Vision and Connecticut Basketball Club. We’ll see early on just how good this Indiana Elite team is.

Who will the college coaches besides Crean be watching?

Start with the aforementioned pool: Dream Vision is led by Scout.com’s No. 1 prospect, small forward, Shabazz Muhammad, and Connecticut Basketball Club by its No. 2, center Andre Drummond. Muhammad plays Indiana Elite at 1:15 p.m. today at North Central, with Drummond facing them at 6:15 p.m.

There’s also center Kaleb Tarczewski of the New England Playaz, who may be the next great true center in the college game. And 2013 guard Chris Thomas of the Colorado Hawks can absolutely fill up the stat sheet.

Overall, it’s easy to tell who coaches really like: they tell you with what gym they are in. It’s not unusual to see 50 or more coaches in attendance for one of the bigger games, all trying to get themselves in the best position to be seen by the object of their fancy.

What will Gary Harris do?

Gary Harris will not actually be at the adidas Invitational – the No. 16 player nationally will be at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio. But that will not stop coaches and the media from talking about the guard.

Harris, much like Cody Zeller did a year ago, is playing his recruitment close to the vest. We know that Indiana, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Notre Dame are pursuing him the hardest, and there is some indication that will matter to Harris. But what happens if Kentucky starts showing real interest?

Expect Harris to trim his list at some point in August or September, then schedule official visits. He may just follow the Zeller plan to the letter, it seems.

What younger guys will Indiana really pursue?

Indiana is looking around the Midwest in the class of 2013 and is really going hard after some of the top in-state talent in 2014. We’ll have more of a feel for who Indiana is really interested in, and vice-versa, after this week.

A point guard in the 2013 class seems like a need; Demetrius Jackson (MBA Select 2013), Derrick Walton (Michigan Mustangs) and Jaylon Brown (Martin’s Wolverines) all seem like real possibilities for that position.

There’s also some top wings nationally in Stephen Domingo (Dream Vision) and Brannen Greene (Atlanta Celtics).

In the 2014 class, Crean may be able to do some one-stop shopping: Spiece Indy Heat features commit James Blackmon Jr. as well as prospects Jaquan Lyle, Trevon Bluiett and P.J. Thompson. Commit Trey Lyles is a member of the team, but he is at the Peach Jam this week.

 

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