IU, ’17 recruits keeping an eye on each other

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana coaches were on hand to see Southport’s Paul Scruggs, North Central’s Kris Wilkes and Zach Gunn of Hamilton Southeastern — class of 2017 recruits who all have IU offers already — in their opener on Thursday at the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis, the start of the July evaluation period.

Indiana wasn’t on hand for the first game Friday afternoon, but all three players still put the multiple facets of their game on display.

Scruggs, a 6-foot-2 guard, is the most physically mature, frequently using his muscular frame and explosive step to get to the basket while playing the combo guard role that he said he sees in his future.

“I’m really just trying to work on being much more of a leader, passing the ball, work on my guard skills,” he said. “I see myself ending up as a combo guard. My weakness is shooting, and my strength is getting to the basket.”

Scruggs picked up an IU offer nearly one year ago, at the same time as Gunn,a 6-7 sharpshooter who can rebound and handle the ball. Scruggs also has offers now from Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State and Xavier, but that first one was memorable.

“It meant a lot,” he said. “When I got it, a whole bunch of people in my neighborhood were coming up to me, congratulating me, stuff like that. I just liked it.”

Wilkes picked up his Indiana offer a month after Scruggs and has had plenty of his friends and schoolmates suggest he take the Hoosiers up on that offer. Xavier and Purdue have also offered the 6-6 wing, who may be still growing. He makes up for his twig-like frame with a lengthy wingspan, excellent ball handling skills and a jump shot that is still a work in progress. On a good day, add a few inches, and Kevin Durant might spring to mind.

But for now, Wilkes is minding a simple message from Tom Crean and staff.

“Don’t stop now, keep working harder and get better each year,” Wilkes said.

Both Scruggs and Wilkes said they really liked Crean and Indiana, particularly noting the enthusiasm of the fans who regularly pack Assembly Hall.