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IU’s Wilson hits jackpot with recruits on ‘D’

Valparaiso's Ryan Broekhoff tries go through UIC's DarrWilliams basket first half Tuesday evening Valparaiso University. UIC's Hayden Humes tries for

Valparaiso's Ryan Broekhoff tries to go through UIC's Darrin Williams to the basket in the first half Tuesday evening at Valparaiso University. UIC's Hayden Humes tries for the stop. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 12, 2013 6:27AM



If you believe recruiting analysts, long-suffering Indiana football fans should be oozing excitement over Coach Kevin Wilson’s recent harvest.

His 22-man bumper crop addresses defensive weaknesses, which have plagued the program since Bill Mallory departed. Consider that IU ranked fourth in the Big Ten in total offense during Wilson’s first two years, but won just five games because he didn’t have enough fingers to plug a leaky dike. Last year the Hoosiers bottomed out, giving up 35-plus points and 463 yards per game.

Rivals.com ranked IU’s class sixth in the Big Ten, presumably because of 13 signees on that side of the ball. Incoming talent includes highly regarded safety Antonio Allen, and ends Darius Latham end David Kenney.

Remarkably, all three four-stars, who hail from the Indianapolis area, decommitted to choose IU: Allen from Mississippi, Latham from Wisconsin and Kenney from Iowa.

Allen, a hard-hitter, helped persuade Latham and Kenney to join him. His tweeting aside, they may have been influenced by Wisconsin coach Brett Bielema’s abrupt jump to Arkansas and Iowa’s continued decline. (The Hawkeyes failed to qualify for postseason play for the first time in 12 years, which prompted the departure of wide receiver coach Erik Campbell.). To put it in perspective, IU had signed just one four-star prospect in the decade before Wilson arrived.

Latham, a 6-5, 285-pound behemoth, is the most intriguing newcomer. An outstanding athlete who will probably grow into the interior line, he also leads North Central’s basketball team in scoring and rebounding.

Overall, the Hoosiers plucked four of the top 11 players from in-state, including Brownsburg safety Chase Dutra, who made visits to Northwestern and Georgia Tech.

JUCO transfers Jordan Heiderman and 6-3, 315-pound Chris Cormier, who was recruited by Texas A&M, LSU and Miami, provide immediate maturity for Wilson, who has played 28 freshmen during his first two years.

The Hoosiers also infiltrated Florida and Georgia to inject speed, but their fastest recruit hails from Brooklyn. New Yorker Laray Smith owns the top three prep times nationally in the 200, 300 and 400-meter races.

Wilson may not be ready to arm wrestle with Ohio State or Michigan, whose recruiting classes rank among the top five in the country, but the Hoosiers received their highest ranking ever from Rivals.com, nationally (44th) and in the conference.

Purdue ranks 50th. Handicapped by the enforced exit of Danny Hope, the Boilers finished 10th in the conference, edging only Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Overall, the Big Ten still lags far behind the SEC in recruiting talent. Thirteen of that conference’s members rank among the top 30 nationally, compared to the Big Ten with three, including Nebraska. That seems to bug Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, who has suggested his fellow coaches should improve their recruiting efforts.

Call it Urban Renewal, but Meyer seems to have inspired a Big Ten arms race. From 2011 to 2012 all members but Michigan and Purdue spent more than the previous year. Indiana increased its recruiting budget by $123,630 to $393,764. Hard to believe, but the Hoosiers out-spent Ohio State ($345,000) and Wisconsin, (last at $212,000), which went to the Rose Bowl, but lost its coach.

Nebraska made the biggest jump, increasing its budget from $480,000 to a Big Ten money-slinging high of $753,000. Dungeon dwelling Illinois ranks second at $615,000.

Homecoming: Being an athlete comes naturally for UIC’s Hayden Humes. His mother swam for the University of Michigan. His dad played football at Western Michigan. Two sisters played basketball at Valparaiso High School.

Humes wasn’t recruited by the Crusaders, but has had five opportunities to remind them of their benign neglect. Dating back to his freshman year at Toledo, when he connected for a double-double, the 6-8 junior transfer hit double figures four straight times against them.

Tuesday, the string ended when he picked up two quick fouls at the ARC. Never in sync, Humes only played 16 minutes in the 86-61 loss. but he is closing in on 500 points and 300 rebounds in his career.

Humes qualifies as a hybrid talent. He’s UIC’s most accurate 3-point shooter (.396 percentage) and the Flames’ leading rebounder, individual stats which don’t normally show up in the same sentence.

“I’ve always been a shooter,” said Humes, who made all-Duneland Conference at Valparaiso High School, “but I do a lot of the intangibles. Basketball IQ and versatility are my main strengths.”

Humes transferred to UIC after a medical redshirt year, but his torn ACL is no longer an issue. Tuesday marked his 48th consecutive start for the Flames.

“I transferred because it was a little closer to home and UIC was a great fit for me,” Humes explained. “I liked the coaching staff and the direction the program was headed.”

UIC was picked to finish eighth in the Horizon League so its 9-1 start was surprising. Since Horizon League play began the Flames have slipped, but took a 5-6 league record into the weekend.

His major is business management, but Humes would like to coach at the college level.

“It’s a great coaching staff here and I really look up to them,” he said.

Butler’s departure, which reduced the Horizon League to nine schools, is being addressed.

“It’s too hard to schedule,” UIC athletic director Jay Schmidt points out.

He expects the league presidents to extend invitations soon, possibly before the NCAA tournament. Based in Indianapolis, IUPUI might be an attractive addition.

Butler’s departure surprised Schmidt.

“Only because they acted like nothing was going on only a week before,” he said. “There was a lot of deception.”

No regrets: Because of an injury VU’s Bobby Capobianco missed the first four games, delaying his debut after sitting out a transfer year.

“That set him behind, but he’s playing some of his best basketball now,” VU coach Bryce Drew said.

Tuesday, with starter Kevin Van Wijk limited to six minutes because of foul trouble Capobianco stepped up to finish just one assist and one rebound short of a rare triple-double in a 28-minute stint.

Teased about being a 6-10 point guard, he protested mildly.

“I kept getting the ball in the post, but every time I thought about shooting I’d look at the top of the key and somebody would be standing there wide open.”

Valparaiso chalked up treys on six of his assists. By chalking up nine feeds he doubled his season total.

Saturday, Capobianco turned efficiency expert at Cleveland State, scoring a career-high 13 points in just 13 minutes. Though he’s an inside presence, Capobianco has stepped outside to connect on five treys

His former Indiana University teammates remain in his thoughts. He keeps in touch, especially the seniors.

“Those are the guys I came in with,” he said. “I know what they went through, a lot of hard work.”



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