Three of the four IPFW men's basketball coaches spent five recent days at the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis watching hundreds of players and an outlandish amount of games. The staff was in search of prep players that could someday be the difference maker for a program that was mere seconds from advancing to the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
But truth be told, the lone Mastodon coach NOT in Indianapolis just may have the biggest impact of any of the staff members, as Mastodon assistant coach Ben Betts was in Atlanta looking for prospects in the South.
IPFW set a program record 25 wins last season, and they did so not primarily, but to some degree, with Midwest high school players, but with Florida-based talent such as forward Luis Jacobo, guard Pierre Bland and center Steve Forbes. More notably, all three were junior college transfers from Florida, so when IPFW head coach Jon Coffman spent Saturday and Sunday at a junior college event in St. Louis, it probably was time wiser spent than his first three days in Indianapolis.
The Mastodons have four available scholarships for the class of 2015 (they lose a center, a wing, a combo guard and a two-guard), but the likelihood that Coffman inks four high school players isn't great. What has occurred in the past is that IPFW has had much more success getting talented – and experienced – players from Florida, while an inordinate amount of mid- to low-major programs from around the country fight over the Indiana-based high school players. And with the success last season, as well as Jacobo, Bland, and IPFW's all-time leading scorer (Fort Lauderdale native) Frank Gaines each securing professional deals overseas next season, it's hard to argue with that philosophy.
The final destination for many junior college players is too soon just yet to be determined, and may be that way into the spring. With that said, below is a list of 2015 high school prospects that IPFW is interested in early in this recruiting period.
Also, check out the 2014-15 Mastodon roster here.
School: Homestead High School
Position: 4 and 5 man
Considering: IPFW, Navy, Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth, Western Illinois, Holy Cross
Mastodons' interest: Batt isn't dominant today, and if he were, then IPFW couldn't sign him. What a mid-major program such as IPFW has to do is sign a junior college front court player (possibly Palm Beach State's Jarrel Marshall) or get a high school player that is raw, but with time and work, can become really good. That is where Batt comes in. He is pretty good today, but not so good that the more renowned programs will want him – today. He has a really nice-size frame that will be able to build strength on, and he is currently doing so. He is fairly skilled offensively, works defensively, and has nice hands. Today, he is just very solid, nothing incredible. With time and work, he can become Joe Reed (IPFW's very good junior 4-5 man).
An obstacle for IPFW in regards to Batt is that he is very bright and is being recruited by some very prestigious academic schools in the east. That doesn't resonate with some high school players, many of whom think practice facilities will actually be relevant to their life success. But to an educated Homestead kid like Batt, getting recruited by an Ivy League program is impressive. So IPFW will have to sell the Spartan senior on playing for a winning program, playing at home, and the fact that earning a Big Ten degree is impressive in its own right.
More on Batt: adidas Invitational Profile: Dana Batt
School: Culver Military Academy
Offer: none for now, but they are coming for sure
Showing interest: IPFW, Binghamton
Mastodons' interest: Campbell has fallen under the description of “intriguing” for many low- to mid-major Division I programs. He is a bit undersized, but has a nice frame, is athletic and works hard. And oh yeah, he's productive and plays with a positive attitude. Always smiling and having fun. There is something to be said for having a positive attitude all the time.
The Toronto native has the strength to drive the ball and finish inside against contact. It's doubtful (but possible) that IPFW take a pair of high school big men, but much more likely they sign either Batt or Campbell, but not both. Any other front court player will more than likely come from the junior college ranks.
Campbell and his family already visited IPFW and there is strong mutual interest. The college coaches watching the adidas Invitational liked what they saw from Campbell. He played well and will most certainly have more interest as this month progresses. Campbell and Ben Davis forward Brennan Gillis are essentially the same player (though Campbell was more impressive this week in all areas) and IPFW has interest in both, but probably wouldn't take both.
Indiana Elite F Devonte Campbell has been impressive. Athletic, strong wing who can play inside and out. Nose for the ball on both ends.— Derek Piper (@Future150DPiper) July 10, 2014
School: Perry Meridian High School
Offers: Belmont, William and Mary, Northern Kentucky, Tennessee Tech, UNC-Greensboro
Showing strong interest: IPFW, IUPUI
Mastodons' interest: If IPFW hasn't offered yet, the Mastodon coaching staff will probably have done so by the time you finish reading this wish list. Windler exploded onto the scene Friday with strong games in which he did everything. Drive to the rim and finish above it? Check. Knock down 3-point shots? Check check. Play with reckless abandon in crashing the boards and hustling all over the place? Check check check.
The athletic, skilled 3-man wowed the low-major Dis and intrigued the mid-major ones. He has to get a lot stronger, which may be an issue. He has a skinny frame that will never be strong, but can get stronger. But with that skill set, work ethic and length, the colleges will overlook his bench press numbers. The left-hander is also an elite golfer, but is focusing now on basketball.
School: Scecina High School
Position: point guard
Showing interest: IIUPUI
Mastodons' interest: IPFW had Henderson in its grasp – for a few days. Earlier this month, the athletic and talented point guard visited and committed to the Mastodons, only to rescind his commitment a few days later. But that doesn't mean that he won't ultimately end up in Fort Wayne. He continues to profess his interest in the program and the reaction by Mastodon coach Jon Coffman – which continues to be supportive and positive with Henderson – will probably go a long way with the Henderson family.
There may be questions about Henderson's age (he looks incredibly young), but there are none about his game. This kid is fast, athletic, and skilled. Try to guard him tight and he blows by you and finishes above the rim. Give him space and his sweet stroke will bury a 3 in your face. Pressure him and he has the handles to penetrate and dish off to an open man on the help up. And the guy is more than likely not finished maturing physically. He just may end up 6-3 when it is all said and done. But even at 6-1 he's really, really good.
More on Henderson: Scecina's Henderson still has IPFW in running after decommitment
School: Evansville Reitz Memorial
Position: combo guard
Offers: IPFW, Northern Kentucky, Illinois State, Eastern Kentucky, Ohio, Bowling Green, Oakland, Southern Indiana
Showing strong interest: Ball State and Wright State
Mastodons' interest: If you thought that IPFW is high on Windler, then they are really, really high on Sanford. A Mastodon offer came Tuesday night and the lanky combo guard may have helped himself at the adidas Invitational as much as any player.
He is athletic enough to get by guys and has the length to find open cutters and shooters once he does get by his man. Sanford has transitioned nicely from purely being a 2-guard to more of a point guard, but has the ability to play either spot. His versatility is really, really attractive to mid-majors.
Jaelan Sanford was in my "Will Anyone Emerge?" article. He picked up offers from NKU, Illinois St., Oakland & Bowling Green this week.— Trevor Andershock (@INBBallSource) July 15, 2014