Indiana, New Mexico headline 2010 Las Vegas Classic

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 11: Head coach Tom Crean of the Indiana Hoosiers watches during the game against the Northwestern Wildcats in the first round of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 11, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)Here’s the press release for the 2010 Las Vegas Classic, which Indiana will participate in next December:

The 10th Annual Las Vegas Classic is pleased to announce their lineup for the 2010 tournament. The field includes Indiana University, University of Colorado, University of New Mexico, University of Northern Iowa, Longwood University, South Carolina State University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and The Citadel.

Indiana University (10-21) makes its first trip to Las Vegas with all five starters returning, led by junior guard Verdell Jones III (14.9 ppg) and Big Ten freshman of the year forward Christian Watford (12 ppg). The Hoosiers will also welcome back sensational scoring guard, sophomore Maurice Creek (16.4 ppg), who suffered a season ending injury after playing only 12 games his freshman season.

New Mexico is coming off a 30-5 season when it advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999 and set numerous school records, including most wins. Head Coach Steve Alford was named Mountain West Conference Coach of the year for the 2nd straight season and he finished 3rd in the balloting for AP National coach of the year. The Lobos return one of the nation’s best points guards in senior Dairese Gary (12.8 ppg).

The University of Northern Iowa returns two starters and seven of its top 10 scorers from last year’s Sweet 16 appearance. The Panthers won a school-record 30 games in winning back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference regular and tournament titles. The Panthers will be led by Senior point guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe (10.6 ppg).


Naadir Tharpe confirms IU interest, keeping options open

After assistant coach Pat Skerry left Providence College in late May to take a similar position at Pittsburgh, 2011 point guard Naadir Tharpe decided to re-think his verbal commitment he’d made to the Big East school less than three months earlier.

As a result, the 6-0, 160-pound Tharpe, who plays at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro (NH), has picked up interest from several schools, including Indiana.

“I talk to Coach (Tim) Buckley a lot,” Tharpe told Inside the Hall. “Basically we talk about how they see me fitting in their system. It’s all good stuff. I’m just waiting to see if they give me an offer.”

Like several other IU targets and commitment Austin Etherington, Tharpe was invited to last week’s NBA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville (VA). He said the experience was an opportunity to go head-to-head with some of the best point guards in the country.

“The NBA Camp went well because there were a lot of point guards there that were highly ranked and the best players in my class,” he said. “It was a great experience for me. Last summer I had a problem with my ankle. This summer and spring are going well so far.”

Having just opened his recruitment up earlier this month, Tharpe has yet to put together a definite list of schools that he’ll consider and said he’s open to any school that shows interest. And while he hasn’t talked with the Indiana staff about a trip to Bloomington, it’s not out of the question.

“Yeah, I would definitely want to go out there and take a visit,” Tharpe said. “I’m just going to play the summer, see how I do and then take it from there this fall once I get back to school.”


B.J. Young talks IU, Elite Camp, NBA Top 100 Camp

It’s not often that a player with such limited high school action under his belt rises to a top 40 national ranking.

But that’s exactly the case with 2011 Florissant (MO) combo guard B.J. Young.

The 6-2 Young, who transferred to McCluer North after being dismissed from the team as a junior at Hazelwood Central for an undisclosed reason, was one of the top performers at the Elite Camp earlier this month. ranks him as a four-star prospect and the No. 39 player nationally in the 2011 class.

His visit to Bloomington for the Elite Camp was such a positive experience that it prompted Young to tell Jody Demling of The Courier-Journal that IU is one of his frontrunners.

“I really, really like IU,” Young told Inside the Hall. “I like Coach McClain and Coach Crean a lot. They showed me a good time at the Elite Camp. The new facility, I love the 24/7 access to the gym. I just loved the whole Indiana experience. I might like to go there one day.”

Young, who is playing AAU with St. Louis Gameface, reeled off a list of schools that includes includes Marquette, Purdue, Baylor, Arizona, Southern Illinois, Missouri State, St. Louis, Illinois State and Virginia Tech. He said his ability to create his shot helped him stand out with the IU staff.

“They like the way I create my own shot and create for others,” he said. “I went hard through all the drills and picked up my intensity for the whole camp. I think they liked the energy I brought to the game and my slashing ability.”


Indiana offers NBA Top 100 Camp MVP Chane Behanan

It didn’t take long for Chane Behanan’s NBA Top 100 Camp performance to result in a new scholarship offer for the 6-8 forward from Bowling Green (KY).

The NBA Top 100 Camp MVP confirmed to Inside the Hall that Tom Crean called him on Sunday with an offer.

“They’ve been watching me and another scholarship has opened,” Behanan said. “They want to bring me up and show me around sometime this week or next week.”

The Cincinnati native, who moved to Bowling Green last summer, said that he hopes to set the visit up soon.

“I told Coach to give my Mom a call sometime this week and we’ll set it up and I’ll be on my way up there,” he said.

Behanan, a four-star player that could move up considerably in the rankings after his performance in Charlottesville, was the third leading scorer in the camp at 14.7 ppg. He originally committed to Cincinnati before opening up the process last August.

“It was a good experience for me going up there and playing in front of all of those scouts and being coached by Mo Evans of the Atlanta Hawks and Gary Trent,” Behanan said. “Just being coached by them and learning from them was really a good thing. I don’t think I ever took a break on offense or defense. I rebounded defensively and offensively, moved without the ball. I think that’s what that separated me.”

While Behanan’s list of schools includes Alabama, Cincinnati, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Purdue, Texas and West Virginia, he said he doesn’t have a leader at this point.

“I’m open,” he said.

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Jeremy Hollowell talks Indiana, Ohio State

Jeremy Hollowell, the versatile 6-7 wing in the 2012 class from Lawrence Central in Indianapolis, fielded numerous calls this week as June 15 marked the first day college coaches could call juniors-to-be per NCAA rules.

In addition to hearing from Tom Crean, Hollowell also heard from three new schools — Florida, Michigan and Southern Illinois — as well as Ohio State, Tennessee, Illinois, Xavier, Cincinnati, Indiana State and Miami (FL).

The message from Crean continues to stress the opportunity to be a part of something special in Bloomington.

“He just keeps telling me to keep working,” Hollowell said. “He’d like to use me as a 2-3-4, somebody he can interchange and play multiple positions and also guard multiple positions. He also talks about the tradition, how our class is real important and bringing it all back together.”

Hollowell, who plays for the Eric Gordon All-Stars, said that the chance for immediate minutes could help the Hoosiers.

“It can help a little in a certain way,” he said. “You get a chance to go in and play right away.”

Another school that figures to be a factor with Hollowell is Ohio State, where he’s visited several times and recently played pickup games with National Player of the Year Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger, who will be a freshman next season.

“I like Ohio State,” Hollowell said. “I’m from Ohio so I grew up watching them a lot. I used to like watching them when Mike Conley and Greg Oden were there. The coaches are pretty cool. They’re real good guys. I really like the school and the coaches.”

Bawa Muniru to transfer

Some of you might be surprised and others not, but Bawa Muniru is leaving the IU basketball program. The details are in this release:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana University men’s basketball coach Tom Crean has announced that center Bawa Muniru will leave the men’s basketball program and look to transfer to another institution where he can receive more playing time.  He will have three years of eligibility remaining.

He saw action in just 19 games a season ago and averaged 3.3 minutes per game.  He averaged 0.6 points and 0.7 rebounds.

“As a staff, we think the best thing for Bawa is to go to a program where he can play and continue his education,” said Crean.  “His desire for more playing time was very evident and we told him that his best opportunity to play the minutes he wanted to was likely going to have to happen somewhere else.”

Muniru will finish his summer coursework at IU.

“I feel it is in my best interests to pursue my basketball career somewhere else,” said Muniru.  “I have appreciated my time at Indiana.”

“We always want to give our players the best opportunity for growth as a player and as a person,” added Crean.  “He has worked extremely hard in the classroom and we appreciate all that he has done in representing the program.”


A few thoughts on recruiting the state of Indiana

In Tuesday’s edition of The Indianapolis Star, Bob Kravitz penned a column (link) expressing concern over Tom Crean’s ability to recruit the state of Indiana. The headline: “Crean needs to start getting in-state talent.”

The overall tone of the column was hardly vicious, but there was quite a bit of discussion surrounding the 2010 class and the lack of IU flavor on the Indiana All-Star team.

If you’ve been following the program since Crean took over in the spring of 2008, he’s been transparent about the tremendous ground the program needed to make up in the 2010 recruiting class. And after landing a top 10 class in 2009, the Hoosiers will welcome a less-heralded three-man class this fall.

But back to the Indiana All-Star team. Kravitz mentioned three Purdue recruits — Terone Johnson, Donnie Hale and Travis Carroll — as well as Butler’s Erik Fromm and Chrishawn Hopkins and Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas. I’ve watched all six players and two stood out as clear-cut Big Ten level guys: Thomas, Mr. Basketball and a McDonald’s All-American and Johnson, who will be a high level player in West Lafayette.

And while it’s easy to type a line like, “Take a quick look at the roster for the Indiana All-Stars boys basketball team. On second thought, if you’re an Indiana University fan, don’t bother. It’s too depressing,” that statement is also a little misleading.

The reality, as Kravitz mentions, is the recruiting work on Thomas and Johnson was all but completed before Crean ever stepped foot in Bloomington. The other four — Carroll, Fromm, Hale and Hopkins — could potentially fill roles at their respective schools, but are not worth losing much, if any, sleep over.

The real litmus test on IU’s ability to recruit Indiana talent will come in the next three classes.


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