Nairn leads with “jaw-dropping” speed

The first time Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. dribbled past Kyle Linsted, the coach knew he had to have the point guard at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kan.

Nairn was playing in a showcase tournament in The Bahamas, his home country, and Linsted was making one of several trips he makes annually to the island nation looking for players. One experience with Nairn’s speed was enough for him to be convinced.

“The first time he dribbled by me — I mean, when people say jaw-dropping, this is what they mean,” Linsted said. “He was that fast. I just got up out of my seat, went to find his mom and said, ‘Hey, I want you guys. I want him to play for us.’”

Indiana coach Tom Crean apparently had a similar experience. Linsted said IU’s assistants, especially Tim Buckley, had been recruiting Nairn for the last two seasons, but Crean didn’t really become involved until this summer when he watched him at several Nike Elite Youth Basketball League events, including the Peach Jam. Nairn, a four-star recruit and the No. 61 player in the Class of 2014 according to Rivals.com got a scholarship offer this summer, and on Tuesday, he announced that the Hoosiers would be one of his finalists, along with Oklahoma and Minnesota. Nairn said he will visit Minnesota on Aug. 23, then Oklahoma on Labor Day weekend before visiting Indiana on Sept. 20.

Nairn said he believes Indiana’s offense fits him well, and the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has a model for what he could do in Indiana’s system in 6-foot, 178-pound speedster Yogi Ferrell.

“I know Indiana plays uptempo and they play defense,” Nairn said. “They get up in people and they push the ball. … That’s what I like to do. I like to push the ball every time I touch it. I like to get stops and turnovers every time so that you don’t even have to run an offense most of the time. Sometimes you have to, because you can’t turn them over every time, but getting into people and making them turn the ball over, that’s my game.”

It only stands to reason that Nairn would base his game on speed, because he was a track man before he was anything else.

Nairn — who takes his first name from the R&B singer Lou Rawls and his nickname from a candy-loving character in the 1992 movie “3 Ninjas” — grew up a sprinter just like most athletes in the Bahamas. Basketball wasn’t nearly as big of a deal there, but he learned the game through pick up ball with his friends and started taking the game seriously when he was 12.

By the time he was 13, he convinced his family to allow him to move to the United States to get a better handle on the game and to put his name on the map for college coaches.

“I just told them, I have to find a way to get to America where I can get exposure,” he said. “I had a chance to become good, I just needed to get some exposure. …  My parents, they have a lot of trust in me. I think I’m a pretty mature guy. I make mistakes, and I’m not perfect, but I think I know what’s best for me. I told them, it’s the only way I’m gonna make it is if I go early. If I go late, I’m not going to have a lot of time get used to the system.”

Nairn went to a school in Florida from seventh grade through ninth grade, but that school closed down and he had to go back to the Bahamas, but Linsted found him and since Nairn has led one of the nation’s strongest private schools. Sunrise Christian finished 29-1 facing a national schedule of prep schools last season.
“He’s one of those one-in-a-million-type speed guys, you just don’t see it very often,” Linsted said. “Then I think there’s a lot of intangibles and a lot of things you can’t measure. In many ways, he fits because he’s such a hard worker. … It’s just the intangibles of leadership and his toughness and just his character that really set him apart.”
He can play uptempo and also run an offense when it slows down, and he can keep any opponent’s point guard in front of him on the defensive end. One area he needs to get better in, Linsted said, is shooting.

“He’s really good at going to the rim, but shooting the ball has been his archnemesis from Day 1,” Linsted said. “If you watch him on the gym 1-on-0, you’d see him make a few and say, ‘Coach, I thought you said this was his problem.’ But just his mental M.O. was never as a shooter. I’ve seen him make three straight 3-pointers, miss one and never go back to it. … But he’s one of the few guys I’ve ever seen who can dominate a game without shooting the ball.”

19 comments

  1. Mature, team guy with a solid work ethic, speed and a defensive mindset. I know this kid has his own skill set, but sounds like the second coming of Chris Reynolds. If so, he can be on my team any day.

  2. They should reschedule that trip to Minnesota for November and see how he likes the Great Frozen North. Oklahoma will still be stifling but he’s been playing in Florida, so that won’t bother him.

  3. Well, young Mr. Blackmon’s de-committment may not be the end of the world after all. He and his father say IU is still in the mix. Now Tum Tum is considering IU along with Oklahoma and Minnesota. I wonder which school has the more storied basketball program, best facilities and most rabid fan base? There’s a lot of talent out there folks, and a desire to be a Hoosier is a huge attribute that should never be overlooked.

  4. I really like this kid. Ultra quick but not out of control. Pretty rare when he’s faster than everyone on the floor. If he doesn’t have something going to the basket he will fan dribble and probe for weaknesses and gaps.
    In my Lou Rawls voice “You’ll never find a lead guard like this. Someone who sets the table, but can also finish.”
    I know it’s cheesy, but I couldn’t resist. Really, really hoping we can get this kid in the candy stripes.

  5. Just trying out a new blogging name.

    Would love to drop some more love on Lourawls, but I already said he was money before the rest of you followers decided to become Yum-yummy in the Tum-tummy.

    You’ll never find
    another point guard like mine</a>…

  6. A bit ironic….I need more dosage for your addiction to my every word? Don’t beat yourself up over it. Even Jeremy can’t get enough of Harvard…He had to go golfing with coachv just to stop his constant desires for the Harvey fix.

    Harvard be your heroine. Tum Tum be my point guard. Tommy ‘Dumb Dumb’ Crean gonna pull the trigger on this one.

    Tum Tum Remix. Hee-hee!

  7. Dustin-

    I wondered if you(or Jeremy)could give me some insights in regard to our current recruiting..

    1. We have six point guards we’re looking at for 2014(even without considering Blackmon)? Seems like such a high number…Is it common to go after so many in an upcoming class? Have they all been offered scholarships?

    2. Noticed that we still don’t have one signed LOI for 2014. Why do you think so many are holding out on a definite decision? Is this just the way more highly ranked recruits play schools off each other until the last minute? Sorta makes me feel like they really have no emotional bond with any particular school..It’s as if they play a waiting game to see where the best roster fit will be based on their observations the rotations, early exits to the professional game, etc.

    Sometimes I’d just like to see a school/coach/program tell all these prima donnas to go (fly a kite) and get out of this seedy system of slathering players with hype before they have one knee burn on McCracken. Bring back Danny Moore…Verdell Jones…Kyle Taber…Brett Finkelmeier…Jeremiah Rivers..Nick Williams.

    A scholarship should mean something…It should mean something totally opposite from the perspective offered by Jeremy’s recent piece. How can the scholarship mean something if in the playing of this recruiting game you are continually subject to trends of indifference…? These kids believe they’re bigger than the jersey…That’s why the scholarships have lost their zing. Give me five or six with the heart a Danny Moore..Give me some recruits with no stars next to their name…Give me some Steve Downings from heart of Hardwood Avenue, Indiana, that treasures forever the days Hoosier jersey hung from his shoulders with zero limelight some dumb cover photo on a magazine.

    I digress…I think of that Marshall football team that so sadly perished in a plane crash. I think of the heart of the young men that had to step in and fill their shoes and were honored to play in their honor for a school they believed in. Most(not all) these recruits don’t believe in a thing other than the reflection in the mirror. Don’t expect a scholarship offer to mean much of anything, anywhere, in the far and beyond.

    Open tryouts…No scholarships. You show up at Assembly Hall on July 1st…Bring your transcripts from high school. Don’t bring your mommy..your daddy…your coach…your press table…your agent….We’ll run you through a week of practices and we’ll pick the next freshman class to wear the candy-stripes accordingly. You’re gonna earn that jersey. We don’t care what you did in high school and how many video clips set to edgy rap tunes come up when your name is typed into a YouTube search box. We don’t care what you can do with an editor when your game is set to slow motion. We’re gonna run in these tryouts until you puke your guts out..It’s real speed and the game has changed…Take off your Rival’s pantyhose and strap on you jocks, boys…This is Indiana. If you don’t want that jersey, it doesn’t want you tainting its colors.

  8. Yeah Harvard, it was awesome when we had all those 0 star recruits and were losing 20+ games a year. Good idea.

    Actually you would love that because then they would get your deepest desire. Seeing Crean fired is more important to you than seeing our team succeed.

  9. Harvard,
    I’ll address part of this. There may be six guys on the list for point guards, but there’s a hierarchy there. Dante Exum would be their top priority, but he’s an international player who is set to graduate from his school in Australia in November, so he can go straight to the NBA and is expected to be a top five pick. Would figure Lourawls Nairn and Quentin Snider are after that. Blackmon’s more of a shooting guard, and they’re chasing a bunch of those all of the sudden. But Riley LaChance and Bryant McIntosh don’t appear to be as high of priorities.
    They take time making the decisions because they’re high school kids trying to determine where to spend the next four years of their lives and making a decision that will affect the rest of their lives. It’s kind of a big deal and they’re also going through high school at the same time, so they’re taking their time.
    And no, they don’t have emotional investments in schools, because they haven’t actually been to those schools. They’ll be emotionally invested and in love with those schools once they actually go there and experience college. It’s easily to forget that, but most people don’t form a deep, lasting legitimate bond with a college — maybe a team, but not a college — at 12 or 13 or 14 years old or even 17 years old. Right now, playing for the greater good for them means playing for their high school, because that’s where they go and that’s where their friends are and that’s where they’ve made memories. They don’t have any bonds with a college like that because none of that has happened for them yet. They’ll develop that for their college when they get there, but not before. It’s not fair to expect a kid to have a blind love for a school he’s never been to.

  10. Harvard…you tell a kid to show up for “tryouts” and you will get “WTF” do you think I do at all the AAU events in the summer ..those CAMPS and summer tournaments ARE the tryouts ..numbnuts.Go back into the cave you came from and draw your pictures on the wall because that about as IN TOUCH with BBall reality you are

  11. Dusty..Dusty…Dusty.

    I find it incredible that zero have connections to friends, teammates, ex-teammates, immediate family members, coaches, AAU teammates, AAU coaches, teachers, uncles, aunts, barbers, that have no emotional ties or warm feelings about Indiana that would, at minimum, push/influence/guide help formulate some form of earlier than typical attraction to one of the top and resurging basketball programs in the land.

    You talk as if this was just some ‘any ol’ school’ with no heritage, no new hot coach, no major conference affording top exposure and competition, no culture, no Kirkwood Ave…You talk as if none of it is enough. You talk as if these kids have not watched the national headlines for the last two years and are moved by the fact we put two young men into the top echelons of an NBA draft…You talk as if they don’t have enough love to fall in love with what most must be recognizing as one of the best coaches in the country…You talk with a a level of such naivety. You talk as if they’ve been on Devil’s Island and just boarded a bag of coconuts and caught a wave back to civilization. Did I mention the loudest and most enthusiastic fans in all of college basketball..?

  12. Or, is there trouble in River City?

    We’ve been told by the Establishment media that Bloomington under Tom Crean is a hotter commodity than anything Hoosiers have seen in 25 years…Hell, you’re holding going home parties for are NBA talent…Now you’re telling me they’ve all had their ears plugged and their eyes shut? Love? Here’s what they love….They love only their reflection and they love where they believe they can get to the biggest stage. They love the biggest stage because it helps sell their name to the biggest NBA contract.

    Open tryouts. Tell them all to go fly a kite. We decide the scholarships after one week of practice. There are far too many young men that would already love the OPPORTUNITY so much more than any these prima donnas care to fall in love on there “lets get serious now” last minute spin move look at IU. You mean we can’t fool a teenager into the same lusting our recent success as they can find in true love at Kentucky?

    And you talk as if they’ve done no looking…Can’t they fall in love with the beautiful body of work? Our figure not hot again..? Can a couple visits guarantee love? Is there any guarantee of love meeting in the middle anyway…? Where is Mo Creek’s and Remy’s love right now?

  13. Is rhinestones at the piano again…?

    Sometimes it is better to be ‘out of touch’ than to have touched so much its meaning is lost.

    What on earth is wrong with that statement that makes you feel you have to remove it? It simply means I’d rather have a kid that respects himself and the game enough to hold onto some of his innocence rather than one that has been so handled/coddled/inflated that he believes the school and those representing our programs have nothing to add…What can we give him beyond what he’s already been told and breathed into his identity what he has earned and now deserves?

    Of course..I’m being wholly sarcastic with the “tryouts” suggestion…But wouldn’t it be gloriously fun just to turn the tables on the process? I’m tired of the road it’s all going down by way of better logic and those “IN TOUCH.” Can any of us forget the game when Knight benched all his top players and let the bench players start? Maybe we’re beyond throwing minutes or halves…or games. Maybe college basketball and all of sports require a bigger shock treatment.

  14. “I find it incredible that zero have connections to friends, teammates, ex-teammates, immediate family members, coaches, AAU teammates, AAU coaches, teachers, uncles, aunts, barbers, that have no emotional ties or warm feelings about Indiana that would, at minimum, push/influence/guide help formulate some form of earlier than typical attraction to one of the top and resurging basketball programs in the land.”

    No one’s saying they don’t and no one’s saying they haven’t What I am saying is, you take your friends’ and teammates’ and uncles’ and aunts’ and barbers’ guidance in your decision, but you don’t let them make it for you. You take visits. You build relationships with coaches. You look around. Just as you do if you’re a regular high school student looking for a college. Maybe you have a sentimental attachment to a place that your parents took you for football games and tailgates when you were a kid. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you stay close to home and maybe you don’t. Just because you want to take your time on your decision doesn’t make you a narcissist and it doesn’t mean your incapable of believing in something greater than yourself. All I’m saying is most people, athlete or not, don’t talk about their college in the same tones when they arrive as they do when they leave. You have to experience that place to have that kind of connection to it and those kids haven’t experienced it yet.

  15. I didn’t say you let them make the decision for you. Don’t put words in my mouth.

    Fact remains that many students in high school have their college decision made by the beginning of their senior year.

    And if we’re talking a top high school athlete, I think it’s a bit unusual that we still don’t have a 2014 kid signed. We’ve seen two IU kids leave on their own accord and a highly anticipated prospect reopen his recruitment.

    Considering the huge resurgence of back-to-back Sweet 16’s, and two All-American top NBA draft picks, I would think that it wouldn’t be unusual that 1-out-of-20 would not have talked with coaches and developed enough confidence to have made a love connection in the form of a signed LOI by now.

    Sure doesn’t seem to be living up to all the catchy phrases of “dominoes” and “floodgates” and “going home parties”..and “We’re Back” t-shirts. Maybe “everything hinged” on Zeller to the degree of staying long enough for the followers marching to the promise land to get through the parted sea.

    Prima donnas back to looking at us like we’re Danny Moore’s chopped liver because savior POY and DC’s mini MJ cover story boys didn’t love the taste of Indiana banner enough to curtail a lust for paycheck. Not enough confidence in our inside game and the next Hakeem? Did the door shut and that’s why an IU scholarship is no longer at the top their letter stacks?

    And where does the one night stand of the one-and-done fall into your college love fest? They all want the paycheck before they finish the job. Does Cody Zeller love Indiana anymore than Terrence Jones loves Kentucky? Maybe Terrence had enough love to stay long enough for a banner(or had enough confidence in the coach he “loved“).

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