May Classic Player Evaluations: Bronson Kessinger, Gary Bonds, Derrik Smits, K.J. Walton

Recruiting Status: All four players are in the Class of 2015. Kessinger has interest from Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Xavier, Butler and Louisville. Bonds has interest from Indiana, Purdue, Xavier, and Michigan. Walton has interest from Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Butler, Xavier and Wake Forest. Smits is hearing from Indiana, Butler and Xavier among others

AAU Team: Spiece Indy Heat 15-and-under

Game/Stats: In a win over St. Louis Gym Rats, Kessinger had 14 points, Walton 11, Smits 6 and Bonds 5.

Skinny: All four of these players are obviously young, and the level of interest they maintain will depend in large part on how much they grow. This is especially true for Smits, the son of fomer Indiana Pacer center Rik Smits. He’s 6-foot-9 and has been told by doctors that he will crack the 7-0 barrier, unsurprising considering that his father was 7-4. He is, at this point, what you’d expect from a freshman big man. He’s extremely skinny and needs to become more physical and he’s just developing his post game, but he appears to have good feel around the basket and decent touch.

Bonds is like wise extremely skinny at 6-foot-7, 195. He’s very athletic and is also pretty good in the post, but he will have to get a lot better if he hopes to play there in college. He’s trying to develop his perimeter skills and work on his handles and 3-point shooting, but he played almost entirely in the post in the games we saw with him with Spiece. He’s left-handed and has a decent hook and can get to the rim off the post, so that should at least make him effective at Scecina while he works on becoming a small forward.

Kessinger is in a somewhat similar situation to Bonds, but seems to be further a long in his hopes of developing more of a perimeter game. He’s 6-foot-6, 185 pounds, and at Corydon High School and his previous stops on the way up to varsity, he’s played mostly in the post. He still has good touch and good moves there, but he’s much closer to being able to play the wing than Bonds is. He’s shown the ability to knock down 3-pointers, handle the ball outside the paint and drive the basketball, though he needs to get better at all three skills. He does appear to have quick enough feet to defend the perimeter, and looked comfortable defending guards out on the 3-point line.

Walton appears to be the closest of the three to being the player he will eventually be. He’s a solid looking combo guard at 6-3, 180 pounds. He can be an exceptional defender, and scored 32 points in a pool play game on Friday night in large part because of steals that turned into fast break layups. Spiece coach Jim Reamer compared Walton to Domonic James as a player who could change the game on that end. He can shoot from outside, get to the rim and finish against contact, and generally plays like a solid shooting guard. It isn’t hard to find players of his size, so he will have to do a lot to separate himself, but his defensive ability makes him appear capable.


  1. For most of these recruiting posts, I keep seeing the same schools in competition with IU: mich, msu, purdue and xavier. At what point do we go after the elite recruits where the competition is duke, unc and kentucky?

  2. Ky – Kids interested in them are looking for one & done and a quick entry into NBA. Hope IU never goes that route.

    NC – That was CZ’s other choice.

    Duke – Another good yr for IU and I’d guess some of those recruits would be looking IU’s way.

  3. Aruss,
    Mostly it’s just where the process stands. Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina rarely offer players before their junior seasons. You rarely know who they even like at this point in the process, and they recruit more nationally than regionally, so the whole situation is different. They’re not afraid of going after 2015 players that Duke or North Carolina might want, but nobody knows who those players are right now.
    Indiana can obviously spread out, but the lifeblood of the program is in-state kids, and it’s Crean’s prerogative to talk to them early. Obviously, Anya is getting those kind of offers. Zeller did and Ferrell certainly would have if he waited longer. Hollowell’s offer sheet was pretty good and would’ve been better if he waited until after last July.
    I don’t mean that to say these guys are that good, but it’s kind of a funnel situation. Indiana will be listed as interested in a ton of guys when they’re freshmen and sophomores, stick with the ones who pan out and fade off the ones who don’t.

  4. Another thing about long term interest is that you don’t have kids showing up on campus only to find out that they haven’t met eligibility requirements.

  5. I hope Hartman and maybe Davis decommit. Hartman is a whimp, he is scared of concussion like symptoms and averages like 6 ppg in AAU!!!! That sucks! We should absolutely keep Fischer he is a lot like Cody. If we can land Robinson, Anya, and Lee we are gonna be in really good shape. I seriously think Collin Hartman does not want to work on his game anymore now that he’s commited to IU. He’s just being lazy and even if he goes to IU he’s gonna be like Austin Etherington his freshman year when Collin is a Senior! What do you guys think of C. Hartman being lazy and not being able to dominate any game?

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