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Indiana lands commitment from 5-star McNeeley

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Indiana lands commitment from 5-star McNeeley

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Five-star small forward Liam McNeeley announced his commitment to Indiana on Sunday, giving Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers a huge win on the recruiting trail.

Indiana beat out Kansas for McNeeley’s pledge, although Texas was also heavily involved until recent weeks. It’s a statement commitment for the Hoosiers, who extended an offer to the sharpshooting wing in the spring of 2022 and maintained a steady pursuit over the last 18 months.

“Indiana has been recruiting me the longest and they have been the most consistent,” McNeeley told ESPN. “They have never wavered during the process. That has meant a lot to me.”

“The fans are crazy,” he added. “They have shown up to my games all over the country.”

A 6-foot-7 small forward from Texas who attends Montverde Academy (Florida), McNeeley comes from a basketball family: His mother, two uncles, grandfather and great-grandfather all played Division-I college basketball. McNeeley is ranked No. 13 in the ESPN 100 for the class of 2024.

“Coach Woodson played at IU and won a national championship under Coach [Bob] Knight then went on to play in the NBA. He has done what I want to do,” McNeeley said. “My goal is winning a national championship, to be drafted and play in the NBA. I believe his experience can help me attain those goals. I am also excited to learn from coach Calbert Cheaney, who is now on staff. Their plan is to have me in spots to utilize my versatility and have me involved in ball screens and coming off screens.”

McNeeley averaged 16.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in 17 games on the Nike EYBL circuit last spring and summer, shooting 37.5% from 3-point range. He’s also represented USA Basketball at the U16 level, averaging 5.7 points and 5.0 rebounds in six games at the FIBA U16 Americas, where he won a gold medal.

His senior season at Montverde is off to a strong start as he went for 25 points, 7 rebounds and four 3-pointers in Saturday’s win in the Border League over Arizona Compass Prep.

McNeeley is one of the top 10 shot-makers in the class of 2024, proving it consistently against high-level competition throughout his high school career. The Texas native’s jumper starts with excellent footwork and he is at his best moving off the ball and with screens, including spot-ups, wide pindowns for 3s or curling in the lane. He is also impressive at setting a back-screen and shaping up as well as being a screen-setter and popping out.

He displays a strong basketball IQ as a decision-maker and when it comes to utilizing his shot-fake and drive game. He’s more than just a spot-up shooter, showing an ability to finish at the rim through contact due to his size and strength, while also being effective as a ball-handler and passer. His defense is making progress, but he will need to demonstrate he can guard smaller and quicker players on a regular basis.

McNeeley is the first commitment for Indiana in the 2024 class, but Woodson and the Hoosiers have two big targets left on the board. They’re still in the mix for five-star guard Boogie Fland, who is perceived to be choosing between Indiana and Kentucky, and top-15 big man Derik Queen, who is being pursued by Indiana, Houston, Maryland and others.

McNeeley’s pledge marks the third straight class Indiana has landed a five-star commitment, following Malik Reneau in 2022 and Mackenzie Mgbako in 2023. Perhaps most notable about Reneau, Mgbako and McNeeley is that none of the three is from Indiana or had previous ties to the program; when Woodson took over in 2021, he made it a point to recruit the best prospects in the country, regardless of location.

“When I first came in here as the coach, my coaches that kept over, and the new guys I hired, they were like, ‘Woody, you can’t start at the top in terms of recruiting.’ And I said, ‘Bull—-. Why not? All they can do is tell you no,'” Woodson told the Indianapolis Star last month. “They were like, ‘Well, it doesn’t work like that in the college game. You’ve got to go and just recruit players, and then work your way to the top in terms of trying to recruit the best players.’ And I didn’t want to wait.”

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