Why Liam McNeeley’s blue-chip commitment for Mike Woodson is different, what that means.

BLOOMINGTON – Mike Woodson did more than receive some good recruiting news Sunday, when Liam McNeeley opened the Hoosiers’ 2024 recruiting class by picking IU over Kansas in giving his college commitment.

McNeeley, a five-star prospect who some analysts believe might even outperform his top-20 ranking, becomes the latest blue-chip player to buy what Woodson and his staff are selling at Indiana. The Texas native follows players like Jalen Hood-Schifino and Mackenzie Mgbako, and Indiana will hope others — namely five-star guard Boogie Fland and five-star forward (and McNeeley prep teammate at Montverde Academy) Derik Queen — follow McNeeley.

The sheer act of building IU basketball back into the kind of program that can sell a genuine NBA future to high-level players, then repeat that process, even against the sport’s heaviest hitters, proves again Woodson’s ability to rebut the criticism leveled at his hiring 2 ½ years ago. Still, there’s something different about McNeeley, a player the Hoosiers have prioritized in this class as long as anyone.

Recruiting will always be something of a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business. There will always, now, be an equal need to prove yourself in the portal (Indiana has), and to sport a robust NIL setup behind you (Indiana does). But if Woodson had one major procedural test left to pass, it was to prove he could enter a player’s recruitment at the ground floor, go the distance and land a commitment.

Not swoop in late, or ride the momentum of a fresh hire, or capitalize on an unexpected opening, but from pillar to post, fend off all challengers and convince a player with genuine NBA ambitions to call Bloomington home, even if only for a short time.

Insider: Woodson wanted IU ‘to sit at table’ with the top recruits. They are.

Film breakdown: What IU commit Liam McNeeley does well, what he can improve on

IU offered McNeeley 14 months ago, in August 2022. The Hoosiers had major designs on his recruitment long before that.

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Source link : https://sports.yahoo.com/why-liam-mcneeleys-blue-chip-194120343.html

Author : IndyStar | The Indianapolis Star

Publish date : 2023-10-15 19:41:20

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