The puzzle pieces are starting to come together for Indiana Basketball’s 2020 recruiting class as on Friday afternoon the Hoosiers landed top priority target and Bloomington native Anthony Leal.
The commitment is the second of Indiana’s 2020 class as just two weeks prior, Trey Galloway became the first. Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller continues to deliver on his promise of recruiting the state inside and out; of his 10 scholarship recruits during his time at Indiana, seven of them have been in-state players.
As a local kid, Leal has always had his basketball career connected with the possibility that he would end up playing for IU. Still, this was solely Leal’s decision.
“The speculation stuff really had no impact on me as far as what I was doing, but to be able to call myself a Hoosier it’s most literally a dream come true,” Leal said. “It’s something that I always imagined growing up.”
Indiana by birth, Hoosier by choice. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/kR0E5f8vdu
— Anthony Leal (@anthonyl3al) August 9, 2019
Leal’s connection to IU goes beyond just being a Bloomington native — he has been immersed into the school’s culture his whole life. He grew up a big IU fan, attending numerous games and Hoosier Hysteria’s. Both of his parents also attended school there.
Additionally, Leal will be the next in a recent line of Bloomington South Panthers to play for Indiana, including 2009 Indiana Mr. Basketball Jordan Hulls as well as recent IU graduate and walk-on Johnny Jager.
“Those two are two really great guys, they did special things at IU and they really have pride in representing their hometown,” Leal said. “It’s just really special to be able to continue on that legacy of being a hometown kid and going to South and then eventually being a Hoosier.”
Leal is considered a four-star shooting guard and the No. 96 overall player in the country by the 24/7 Sports Composite rankings and is also ranked as the No. 1 player in Indiana for the 2020 class.
Due to the high ranking, Indiana had no shortage of competition from other schools for Leal. Leal held 12 scholarship offers, including Northwestern, Xavier, Butler and Cincinnati among others. Leal eventually cut his list to two, Stanford and Indiana, before picking his hometown school about two weeks later.
Thank you to every coach who recruited and believed in me, but through God’s grace I am proud to announce my final two schools: pic.twitter.com/dQr4R3helV
— Anthony Leal (@anthonyl3al) July 25, 2019
For Leal, a top tier student, Stanford had always seemed like an attractive destination and put up a strong fight for the shooting guard. They prioritized him for a long time, and even jumped out ahead of Indiana in the process. They offered Leal last winter and had him take his official visit in March — Indiana hadn’t offered Leal until April 29.
Leal said he didn’t mind that Indiana offered later though, and they weren’t ever playing catch-up.
“Ever since Coach Miller and his staff got the job at IU they’ve been in great contact,” Leal said. “It wasn’t really a thing where they were too late or anything like that.”
Not only will Leal get to play for his local school when he hits campus, but joining Galloway makes Leal’s choice all the better for him. Galloway is a close friend of Leal’s and they’ve played together in AAU for Indiana Elite over the last few years.
The two have strong chemistry when on the court together and it has led to tremendous success. Over the last three years, the Indiana Elite 2020 team has won multiple championships and in their 2017 season, they went 48-1.
Leal said that he and Galloway talked about the possibility of playing together in college, but they didn’t intentionally plan on being a package deal.
Leal and Galloway both are considered wing players, primarily shooting guards, but due to their versatility, they complement each other well on the court and can each play multiple positions.
“We’re two really similar guys, but at the same time we’re both so different,” Leal said. “We’re really versatile to where we can play the one, two, or three at any given time. I think that just our ability to feed off each other is something that’s really special and helps us both become better players when we’re playing with each other.”
Individually, Leal impacts the game in a multitude of ways. He is a natural scorer with great shooting touch and finishing ability at the rim while also being an underrated athlete and defender.
2020 four-star guard Anthony Leal (@anthonyl3al) out of Bloomington High School South should be a high priority for Indiana basketball in the future with his skillset and shooting ability.@YearyJackson writes, @kurt_spitler with visuals. #iubb ⬇️https://t.co/QFsNhuRmRR pic.twitter.com/enjA7cYUqy
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) January 27, 2019
The shooting is the key aspect to his game for both Leal and Indiana. Coming off of an abysmal season from beyond the arc where the Hoosiers shot 31.2% on the year, Leal’s shooting fills a desperate need for Indiana. This year in AAU, Leal averaged 12.2 points per game while shooting 41.9% from three for Indiana Elite.
“The coaches have emphasized to me that my ability to space the floor and play defense at a high level is going to be able to make an impact,” Leal said. “If I’m able to space the floor with shooting it’s going to help other people get open, help other people get better shots because the defense is going to have to at least respect me as a three-point shooter.”
Leal will certainly have an opportunity to make an impact for Indiana early in his career, but he hopes his impact with the Hoosiers and his Bloomington community extends far beyond the court and for years to come.
“If I can impact, and help other kids like me, and just be part of something bigger than myself and kind of bring the community together, that’s going to be really special,” Leal said.