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Nick Williams will not return next season

The scholarship situation in Bloomington is starting to sort itself out. A couple of weeks ago, the Hoosiers were oversigned by a scholarship and speculation grew on players considering a transfer. First, it was Malik Story. And now, his roommate and fellow freshman Nick Williams has also decided to leave the program.

Our friend Chris Korman of The Herald-Times/Hoosier Scoop was first to report the transfer:

“After the season, Nick expressed displeasure with his role this year and also shared concern with members of our coaching staff about his future role in the program, ” said Crean.  “He is a fine young man and we have enjoyed our relationship with him over time.  He played hard and did some very good things for us and we wish him the best.”

The decision by Williams is a curious one considering he originally signed with Marquette and then followed Crean to Bloomington last spring. But when you consider that Maurice Creek is coming into the program, Devan Dumes commands his share of looks and Verdell Jones came into his own down the stretch, Williams, like Story, would likely have taken a tumble down the depth chart. As of right now, IU will enter next season with 12 scholarship players. There is, however, a possibility that another player could be added to the 2009 class as the staff continues to evaluate talent this spring.

Korman’s story also reported that walk-on Broderick Lewis has left the team. The complete release from IU, with more comments from Crean and a quote from Williams, after the jump.

(Photo credit: Indianapolis Star)

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DeShaun Thomas says he’s sticking with Ohio State

In an interview with Michael Rothstein of The Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette, Bishop Luers junior and Ohio State commit DeShaun Thomas says he’ll honor his commitment and play for the Buckeyes. This, according to Thomas, is despite pressure from teachers, friends, strangers and students to attend IU:

“It’s an every-day thing. It’s ‘Are you going to transfer? Are you going to go to IU? Why Ohio State?’ I told everybody it’s what’s best for me. It’s a lot of pressure, but I stay in my books, not worry about it too much. I’m only a junior, I got one more year and then just worry about it next year.”

Call me a blind optimist or call me crazy, but I still refuse to count Tom Crean out of this race. Thomas made his commitment to Ohio State long before Crean arrived in Bloomington and the 2010-2011 season should be big for the program. The practice facility will have opened and the Hoosiers should be in the thick of the Big Ten race. In other words, like Crean told Marquis Teague, who wouldn’t want to be a part of that kind of environment?

(Photo Credit: ESPN Rise)

Next stop for Isiah: Florida International?

There’s no question that Isiah Thomas is one of the best guards, if not the best, to ever play for our Hoosiers. His recent track record, however, suggests he might not be the guy you want running your favorite NBA franchise. But now that he’s 18 months clear of his sexual harrassment fiasco with the Knicks, reports are running rampant that he might get back into coaching. This time, on the collegiate level:

Florida International is trying to hire former New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas as its next basketball coach, sources have told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz.

Florida International coach Sergio Rouco was fired Monday, and sources confirm that FIU athletic director Pete Garcia made calls within the conference recently to check on the viability of hiring Thomas.

The Sun Belt has recently become a second-chance destination. Florida Atlantic hired former St. John’s coach Mike Jarvis and Arkansas State hired former LSU coach John Brady.

If Thomas lands at Florida International, I like the move for both sides. Isiah gets a chance to start repairing his tarnished reputation. And Florida International, which hasn’t had a winning season in five years, gets a little buzz for its program. If nothing else, this mention of Isiah gives me a chance to relive this classic moment between Zeke and Bob Knight (earmuffs, boys and girls).

Scouting Report: Maurice Creek

A trio of Hoosiers, Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls and Maurice Creek, participated in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic over the weekend. It was my first in-person look at Creek and the Hargrave Military Academy guard exhibited star potential.

Creek absolutely lived up to the billing that he’s one of the top shooters in the 2009 class. In the 3-point shootout and in the shoot around on Thursday, he showed the capability of hitting shots from all angles. He’ll play big minutes early in Bloomington for this reason alone, but he’s much more than a shooter. He can also knock down the pull-up jump shot and get into the lane and finish.

He exhibited above average ball handling ability and told reporters that he’s comfortable at either guard position. After the game on Saturday, he commented that he wanted to smile and have fun because some say he’s often too serious. However, his business like approach at times is part of what makes him great. He’s not the type of kid that is going to do much, if any, jersey popping or chest pounding.

It was hard to judge him defensively during the game on Saturday, but in Friday’s 2-on-2 contest final, he more than held his own against a quick point guard in Eric Bledsoe. His length and athleticism give him the tools to become an outstanding defensive player.

The Bottom Line: It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Creek’s name won’t be called out in the starting lineup come the season opener next fall. He’s a humble kid who seemed thrilled to be participating in the Derby Festival Classic. His answer to nearly every question he was asked started with getting teammates involved and having fun. His ability to play either guard spot will give the IU coaching staff another ball handling option along with Verdell Jones, Jeremiah Rivers and Hulls.

Around the Hall: Jordan Hulls is Mr. Basketball

Around the Hall is recommended reading from the Inside the Hall crew.

+ Hugh Kellenberger of The Herald Times writes that Hulls deserved Mr. Basketball because no other player in the state did more to make his team better. {The Hoosier Scoop}

+ Kyle Neddenriep of The Indianapolis Star profiles Hulls and finds that all of the doubters help motivate the future IU point guard. {The Indianapolis Star}

+ A list of past winners of Mr. Basketball {Indiana Daily Student}

Quotable:

That’s what keeps me motivated. I love reading I’m too small and too slow, or my shot isn’t good enough. It makes me work that much harder.” – Hulls on how he reacts to criticism claiming he isn’t tall enough or strong enough to play big time college basketball.

Trio of Hoosiers lead Gold to 151-145 win in Derby Festival Classic

Indiana fans in Freedom Hall got a glimpse of the future Saturday night as IU signees Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls and Maurice Creek teamed up to win the Wazoo Sports Derby Festival Basketball Classic, 151-145.

“It was a great experience,” Watford said afterwards. Creek, who met Watford in person for the first time on Thursday afternoon, echoed Watford’s sentiments. “It was fun. I got off to a slow start at first, but then we picked it up. I enjoyed it.” Creek said.

Watford led the IU trio on the Gold team with 26 points, including 8 of 10 from the free throw line. Creek added 21 points and Hulls, who is expected to be named Mr. Basketball on Sunday, had six points.

The night began with player introductions that lasted approximately 25 minutes. Creek was the first IU recruit announced and wore an Indiana flag over his shoulders as he was announced to the crowd of 13,111.

“I bought it at the mall this morning,” Creek said of the flag. “My mom said I should come out and do what Dwight Howard did with the cape.”

The Gold team led 70-59 at halftime and the intermission brought the completion of the 3-point shootout. Hulls won the competition with 14 points, beating Creek, Eric Murphy and Mike Marra.

“I think I had 14, but I’ll give it to J. Hulls,” Creek laughed. “It felt good (playing with Hulls). He’s like a Steve Nash type point guard.”

The next time this trio of Hoosiers will be on the court together in game action will be this fall in Assembly Hall. But in the meantime, they’re looking forward to putting in the work that will bring improvement in the 2009-2010.

“It’s going to take some work,” Watford said. “But with Coach Crean behind us, we’re going to win some games.”

(Photo credit: The Hoosier Scoop)

Live Blog: Derby Festival Basketball Classic

We’re on the scene in Freedom Hall for the 2009 Derby Festival Basketball Classic. Jordan Hulls, Maurice Creek and Christian Watford will be participating for the Gold Team. As we move closer to tip-off, we’ll team with the Herald-Times for a live blog.



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