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(Photo: Boston-Globe)

After a number of recent recruiting misses of 2019 recruits, namely Ethan Morton, Lester Quinones and Anthony Harris, the Hoosiers are back on the recruiting trail focused on the 2020 class. While Indiana can certainly use help in the upcoming season with the additions of Trayce Jackson-Davis, Armaan Franklin, and Joey Brunk, the Indiana staff has been busily working on the upcoming pipeline in the 2020 and 2021 classes as well.

According to Jeff Rabjohn’s from Peegs.com, Indiana has landed an official visit from 2020 forward Matt Cross.

Meet Matt Cross

Matt Cross is a forward that stands at 6-foot-6, 205 pounds. The Massachusetts native plays for Woodstock Academy in Connecticut and he is part of the BABC Nike EYBL team. While the 247Composite rankings currently have him as a three-star player ranked 227th overall, Cross has played himself into conversation with a number of high-major schools. In addition to Indiana University, his list includes schools such as Georgia Tech, South Carolina, UConn, and UMass.

In updated 2020 rankings, he is bound to have an increased look and he is expected to elevate his overall ranking. Don’t be surprised if Matt Cross moves up by the end of the 2019 summer circuit.

What is his game?

Matt Cross is a 6-foot-6 wing player that has played in the post for the majority of his high school career given his size. He is a bit undersized to play the post position in college, but his instinct for rebounding hopefully would translate to the next level.

He has an impressive motor and hustles hard for each and every play. It is not uncommon to see him fight for his life over an offensive rebound and then sprint all the way back to make sure that he is in proper position for defense. Cross is not afraid of using his body and challenge even the biggest players for rebounds. Additionally his size and stretchability allows him to be a problem in passing lanes for opposing teams.

One of his most impressive skill sets is his passing. Cross utilizes his keen ability to find open players. This makes him an effective option to use to bring up the ball and serve as a fill-in guard on certain offensive sets. On dribble penetrations, Cross is able to survey the court and make the athletic mid-air pass to guards along the perimeter. Comparing only that specific move, former Indiana Hoosier Yogi Ferrell was a great passer in that same regard.

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The majority of his points come from close range jump shots. His game has changed over the years as his competition got bigger and stronger. Though he used to be more of a drive-first forward, now he has more intentional footwork that usually leads to a proper jump shot. His shooting form is not the best when compared to true shooting counter-parts, but his size and footwork create open looks for him. Recent Indiana addition, Joey Brunk, will be a good mentor for Cross to learn how to properly and most effectively utilize footwork.

Indiana fans will be happy to hear that Cross is also a great free throw shooter. He shot nearly 80% at the Nike EYBL Atlanta event in the past couple of weekends.

Where can he improve?

Matt Cross is a bit right-hand-dominant and relies on using his right hand to score quite frequently. He may not be able to get the same looks in college given the increased size of players at the collegiate level. When scoring layups from the left, he still adjusts the ball whether it be mid-air or before taking off to ensure that he is taking the shot with his right.

The three-point line has not been kind to Matt Cross. About 20% of his takes are behind the three and he shot less than 30% on the EYBL circuit. Over the weekend in Atlanta, Cross was just 9 of 32 from behind the arc, which is good for just 28.1%.

His shooting form has improved over the years. He has began to release the ball higher in his shooting progression, whereas previously he almost had a hip-fire shot from behind the arc. Time with a college staff should help improve his form over time. While his statistics may not reflect his ability to shoot, he definitely has the resources and the potential to eventually become a more consistent all-around shooter.

Balancing the Classes

Near the end of the Tom Crean era, fans were beginning to question how the recruiting classes stacked up. Not that Tom Crean’s staff couldn’t land great talent, but rather how each class balanced year over year. Clearly, Archie Miller and the current staff understand how the roster will evolve year over year and they have made it a priority consideration. Recruiting is not just about having the right players for next season, but rather it is about building the roster and pieces so that you are successful each and ever year.

Matt Cross is an important player to add to the 2020 class. Though Indiana already has a number of wings and arguably guards or front court players (given the departures of Jake Forrester and Clifton Moore) are the greater immediate needs at this point, the addition of a three-star wing in the 2020 class would certainly help create balanced rosters in the future. Keion Brooks selecting Kentucky also left an opening in that bucket.

In order to see an example of this, take a look at the roster for the next three years. We loosely categorize the players as guards, wings, or post players. Not only does Archie Miller have enough players and depth in each position, the Hoosiers also have a great balance of seniority at each of the positions.

2019-2020

Guards:

  • SR Devonte Green
  • JR Al Durham
  • SO Rob Phinisee
  • FR Armaan Franklin

Wings:

  • JR Justin Smith
  • SO Damezi Anderson
  • RS FR Jerome Hunter

Posts:

  • SR De’Ron Davis
  • RS JR Joey Brunk
  • RS SO Race Thompson
  • FR Trayce Jackson-Davis

2020-2021

Guards:

  • SR Al Durham
  • JR Rob Phinisee
  • SO Armaan Franklin

Wings:

  • SR Justin Smith
  • JR Damezi Anderson
  • RS SO Jerome Hunter

Posts:

  • RS SR Joey Brunk
  • RS JR Race Thompson
  • SO Trayce Jackson-Davis

2021-2022

Guards:

  • SR Rob Phinisee
  • JR Armaan Franklin

Wings:

  • SR Damezi Anderson
  • RS JR Jerome Hunte

Posts:

  • RS SR Race Thompson
  • JR Trayce Jackson-Davis

Matt Cross Highlights and Scouting Videos

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