On paper, the signing of Guy-Marc Michel has left Indiana without any additional scholarships for the 2011 class. (Scholarship numbers are available here.) At this past weekend’s adidas May Classic in Bloomington, Herald-Times beat reporter Dustin Dopirak asked several 2011 recruits, including Aaron Thomas, Austin Etherington, Jeremiah Davis and Cody Zeller, for their thoughts on the scholarship crunch.
While I felt the question was fair, I’ve steered clear of asking recruits about it because my point of view is that it’s the job of the coaching staff to figure out how to best allocate scholarships. It’s safe to assume that if Zeller or Davis decide they want to play at IU, they won’t be paying their own way, right?
If you flash back to March of 2009, the scholarship numbers would have indicated that Indiana only had one scholarship to give for 2010. Malik Story and Nick Williams then transferred, freeing up two additional grants.
It’s not inconceivable a player could become homesick or unhappy with their role and leave the program. It happens every year at a lot of programs across the country. ESPN’s Outside the Lines ran a story last January where it looked at the roster turnover in college basketball with a specific focus on John Calipari and Kentucky. And the fact is scholarships are renewable each year.
Additionally, Tom Crean addressed the situation shortly after the season concluded. Let’s go to the archives:
“I have to sit here and look ahead into the future and figure out OK, how are we going to have to not do this again. That’s what’s hard because there’s a lot of good young players that we’re recruiting that we want and we’ve gotta make sure that we get those and we’ve gotta make sure we have the ability to sign them when they’re ready to come.”
While that’s not a definitive plan, it seems to spell out pretty clearly that Crean realizes something’s gotta give in order to bring in top tier talent. The skepticism around the Michel signing was certainly fair, but the bottom line is that he was brought in because Crean and Steve McClain believe he can help win games. And many are viewing next season as the first in which fans expect to see clear indicators that the program is turning around. What bigger indicator is there than winning?
This topic will no doubt remain top of mind as the focus shifts to recruiting this spring and summer. Recruits will make their decisions. And reporters and fans will continue to discuss and speculate on how the balancing act may eventually come to fruition. So how will it all turn out? That’s anybody’s guess.
Filed to: Tom Crean