Crean analyzes each of Indiana’s 2013 signees

Tom Crean’s recruiting philosophy has always been fairly clear during his tenure at Indiana: Pursue players that will fit your program — no matter where they are ranked — and develop them.

Crean didn’t always get highly-touted recruits during his first several years in Bloomington, but they all fit his philosophy. Even though coaches at other major college programs ignored some of the players Crean went after — namely Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo — Crean treated them like they would be important parts of a rebuilding project.

Now that fans have gotten an opportunity to see how Crean has developed various players, it’s much easier to understand what his goal was all along.

“Some of the people that rank players for a living are some of my close friends, good friends, and I read it non-stop,” Crean said Thursday. “But we don’t make our decisions on it. You just can’t. It’s part of the tools that are available. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, and you recruit that way. Sometimes it’s hard for your fan base to see that, but you have to stay true to it.

“The rankings and the top 100s and all of those things matter absolutely zero when it comes to the next level. They might track you earlier because you’re ranked, but it doesn’t have anything to do with where you get picked or who you play for or how long you play for. … Once you get here, it’s a clean slate no matter what. The ranking doesn’t help you win a game or lose a game, it doesn’t carry you to the next practice. Sometimes it’s a burden.”

Indiana’s 2013 recruiting class has a good mix of highly-ranked players and a few who may be undervalued by scouting services. The Hoosiers’ success in recent years has given the program national visibility and helped it lure recruits that might not have previously considered Indiana. But Crean has also stayed true to his original philosophy, signing a variety of pieces he feels will best fit together.

Here’s a look at the 2013 class, with Crean’s analysis of each individual player.

Noah Vonleh (five stars, ranked 8th by ESPN.com), New Hampton School, Haverhill, Mass., 6-foot-8, 220 pounds:

“That’s a dream recruit in this sense: to have someone who’s that humble, who’s that grounded, and that talented at that age, you can’t expect that. The stars were aligned for us. The upside is just enormous. As talented and as skilled as he is, that upside, it’s hard to imagine it. He’s incredibly unselfish. They can give him the ball at the top of the key in a 1-4 set, and he’ll deliver the ball. He’s like Cody in that he doesn’t look for his offense nearly enough. He’s another one of those young guys we have here who is untapped in the sense that they have no idea how good they can be.”

Troy Williams (four stars, ranked 33rd by ESPN.com), Oak Hill Academy, Hampton, Va., 6-foot-7, 190 pounds:

“When we found out that we had an opportunity to recruit him, and it became apparent that there was a small window to get in, the window just kept getting bigger and bigger. Here’s a guy that we were already a fan of. And once we had the opportunity to recruit him and see how he would fit, we couldn’t have drawn it up much better.

“He’s a cross between Will and Victor when you combine the height, the athleticism, just the incredible leaping ability, the explosion, the ability to run end to end. We’re gonna be great for Troy because we’re gonna help him get much better in the half-court and get much better in the ball screens. But what he brings to the table when it comes to energy, edge, up and down the floor, the ability to offensive rebound — those are crucial things. He’s a stat-sheet stuffer without really understanding how to do all that.”

Stanford Robinson (four stars, ranked 58th by ESPN.com), Findlay Prep, Fairfax, Va., 6-foot-4, 175 pounds:

“Stanford Robinson is somebody we paid attention to in the past. After we hired Kenny, it became a priority. We always saw some Victor in him. I say Victor in the sense of character, the charisma, happy person, trying to make other people better. This summer, he was fantastic in the sense of his ability to play with both hands, his ability to go end to end. His 3-point shooting continues to improve. He’s passing the ball well, very, very hungry to be a great player. Very introspective, always wanting to improve.”

Devin Davis (two stars, unranked by ESPN.com) — Warren Central High School, Indianapolis, Ind., 6-foot-6, 200 pounds: 

“He really has great athleticism, and plays with great energy. It’s fun to watch him do the things he’s capable of doing. He can get to the basket, go coast-to-coast with the ball, can score on both sides of the rim, can be a pretty good shooter. We think he can an outstanding defender, and he really epitomizes versatility.”

Collin Hartman (two stars, unranked by ESPN.com), Cathedral High School, Indianapolis, Ind., 6-foot-5, 200 pounds:

“He brings something that we’re really going to need because of what we’re losing in this class, and that’s outside shooting ability. The more you watch him, he’s got a tremendous court sense. He can really pass the ball, he can read situations, he can find cutters. He’s a very intelligent player. Collin has got a chance to spread the defense right away when he’s here. He’s got some similarities to Will [Sheehey]. They both have different strengths. Collin comes in more as a polished shooter and Will was probably a little better at moving without the ball. But both have the ability to make guys around them better.”

Luke Fischer (three stars, unranked by ESPN.com), Germantown High School, Germantown, Wis., 6-foot-9, 200 pounds:

“The comparisons that I would give Luke to Cody is this: Their approach is very, very similar, their demeanor, their ability to figure things out and not get rattled is very, very similar. I would say at the same age there is a somewhat similar skill set. Luke is a basketball player. Luke is a 7-foot basketball player. He can play with his back to the basket, he can play facing up. We’re excited about him.”

  • IUMIKE1

    Short & sweet & straight to the point. Up to this point we have absolutely no reason to not completely trust his judgement when it comes to recruits, whatever he thinks works best is fine by me.

    In Tom We Trust

  • Salty

    I always thought coaches couldn’t talk about high school guys. I’m guessing this changes once they’ve formally signed?

  • Kris

    Crean really seems to love what Collin Hartman will bring to the team. Maybe all the people suggesting Collin should go elsewhere should reconsider that position. Coach seems to love the kid. I’m glad to hear it.

  • superhoops

    The fact remains, Mr. Oversign will have to basically kick someone(s) off the team to add these 6 guys. 3 seniors will leave, maybe Cody goes pro, that leaves 2 guys that will have their scholarship revoked, or will transfer or will not show up in the fall of 2013. Very dangerous precedent to set and if I was a current team member or an unranked recruit, I would be very concerned of how Mr. Oversign will handle this situation. In Tom, we trust he will kill one or two young men’s dreams and move forward as if that is the cost of doing business at the major collegiate level. Winning trumps everything in Tom’s eyes. Yes, I love the fact we are at the top of the college hoops world. I just don’t like the methods Mr. Oversign uses and it will catch up with him at some point. If I was an opposing coach, I sure would be using this against him while recruiting and it’s no wonder why he is perceived as one of the biggest rules bender in college basketball. I believe IU fans want to win, succeed, but they want to do it the right way. His track record so far has not been very good. How many secondary violations and missteps has he had? Guy couldn’t play, 2 guys out 9 games each, Patterson kicked off, and recruiting the day after open period ends sure gives me the impression of someone that either doesn’t know the rules, thinks he’s above them or just wants to win no matter the cost.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    wow, strong stuff! i think everybody would agree that recruiting is tough business, and nobody wants to see a kid disappointed. but you also have to take into account the other side of the coin. players can transfer or revoke their verbal commitments whenever they want, so you just have to be prepared. i’m not the least bit knowledgeable about recruiting standards and practices, but my guess is this happens at each and every school.

    getting back to the kids, my take is no one player is bigger than the team, and i’m guessing CTC makes that abundantly clear from the very start. if he were in the business of sparing someone’s feelings over putting the best possible team on the floor, he wouldn’t have a job for very long, and his replacement would do it instead. and put yourself in the player’s position. would you want to be coddledpatronized? to be treated like a kid? i wouldn’t.

    regarding the rules violations, i’ll let someone else elaborate on that, but imo, you’re being more than a little harsh. but hey, it’s a good topic for debate. you should get a lot of responses! haha

  • http://www.facebook.com/survivored Ed Ellis

    “he’s a cross between will and victor”

    Jesus…

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    You can rule out the “thinks he’s above them”, given that IU self reported all the violations.

    And as far as “rules bending”, you can point at a coach who’s left programs one step ahead of the NCAA, or Crean who’s left to go to bigger and better things. Your choice.

    Given that he’s gotten rid of the drug using troublemakers – as well as a potted plant throwing individual – has gotten everyone on track academically to the point where one of them may be graduating early, and has gotten good character guys like Sheehey, Hulls, and Zeller in particular, I don’t see your disparagement as being contextually accurate. Guess what: The oversigns worry many of us too, But it doesn’t mean we subtract the context of the good to spotlight only the bad. It’s something he’s got to work through, but it doesn’t take away from all the other good he’s been doing.

  • ScoopGeoff

    After they’ve signed the coaches are allowed to have 1 press conference to address the signed players.

  • Geoff_85

    Damnit, I didn’t get to rip that moron before his post was deleted. What a freakin joke.

  • Geoff_85

    I agree, a cross between Will and Victor would be close to a basketball Jesus. Good thought you had there!

  • Geoff_85

    Great, now I expect ESPN reporter mike fish to thoroughly investigate this press conference. He and the NCAA will probably find that since Coach Crean purchased a Diet Coke and a bag of Munchos at a gas station on his way to the presser, the press conference itself in which he addressed these recruits should have never taken place. In accordance with NCAA guidelines, the players will have to have a bake sale and donate all proceeds to a charity of their choice. GEE THANKS SALTY.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.spera.3 Gregory Spera

    I hope this comment doesn’t get deleted, but are there any ideas on which three scholarship players are going to be dropped next year? I know it sounds insane but, would Zeller coming back next season actually cause problems?

  • http://www.facebook.com/joshobie Josh O’Brien

    The short answer is yes, it would cause problems. If I had to guess I’d say Cody, Vic, and Mo won’t be back. Cody and Vic to the NBA and Mo will have a degree and a young family to support, so it’s a possibility.

  • easysoul

    How are we going to fit them all in?
    Got a feeling Cody may opt to stay for a third year.

  • http://www.vccm.net/ iubase

    CTC has done a great job. I think the analogy is closer to the 71-when RMK started. When Bob Knight came in he had only a few players left and was supposed to be in the bottom/middle of the pack. McGinness was the star and he left for the pros and 2-3 others transferred. He built and recruited players he believed in and established a foundation for the program that was impressive. CTC is doing the same now.

    benson – cody

    scott may – watford

    buckner – yogi/remy

    wilkerson – victor

    steve green – jordy

    laskowski – will

    abernathy – austin

    and we also have hanner Perea, mo, and jurkin
    These kids (I knew this 75 team) I believe have similar attitudes and abilities to the group there now. They aspire to be great basketball players but more importantly successful in life.

  • twarrior87

    It would be a nice problem to have Cody and Vic coming back… I don’t think Vic will leave and I’m 50/50 on Cody… If they don’t hang a banner this year I could see Cody staying for sure. With Noah and Troy contributing right off the bat next year, that could be scary.

  • IUMIKE1

    And the gas station itself, as well as the owners, will forever be designated as ” boosters “. The university better make sure anyone connected with the players know that they can no longer step onto the gas station property.

    I drove by there a short time ago and am pretty sure I seen a guy with binoculars and a video camera hiding in the bushes around the gas station with a vest on that said ncaa.

  • LiveIUBBall

    Yea, we would definitely have problems, but I wouldn’t trade another season with Vic and Cody for any recruit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Wes-Robinson/591752361 Wes Robinson

    a young family? does mo have a kid? is it too soon to start recruiting?

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    Just because he says “cross” doesn’t mean you have to say “Jesus”…

    (*ducks*)

  • Evansville Hoosier

    Ha Mo does indeed have a new daughter I believe

  • http://www.facebook.com/survivored Ed Ellis

    I didn’t mean to say that Troy is Jesus, I meant it as “Jesus Christ, that’s going to be a good player”

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