It’s late June, recruiting won’t heat up until a couple of weeks into July and thus, there’s finally some time to dig into one of the list ideas we’ve been kicking around in recent weeks for offseason content.
As we enter season eight of Tom Crean’s time in Bloomington, it’s time for our ranking of the top 10 players to play for the Hoosiers in his tenure:
10. James Blackmon Jr. (2014-present)
It will interesting to see where Blackmon Jr. ultimately ends up if this list is reexamined when his career is over. But as it stands, it’s hard to warrant placing him higher given that he’s played just one season. Still, Blackmon Jr. accomplished a lot offensively in his first season. He ranked sixth in the country among all freshman in scoring at 15.7 points per game and was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. He also set the freshman record for 3-pointers made in a season (77), breaking a mark set by Eric Gordon. If Blackmon Jr. continues the scoring pace he exhibited as a freshman and stays until he’s a junior, he’s going to go down as one of the better backcourt scorers to ever play for the Hoosiers.
The NBA’s regular season is complete and just one of the four Hoosiers currently in the league, Eric Gordon, is on a playoff team. Here’s a look at how Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller, Gordon and Noah Vonleh fared this season:
· Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic Stats (72 games): 17.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.7 steals in 35.7 minutes per game
Notes: Oladipo had an injury setback early in the season, but recovered nicely for a very solid sophomore season in the NBA. His scoring average was up more than four points per game and his shooting percentage was up as well – although there’s plenty of work to do in terms of improving efficiency. In Oladipo and Elfrid Payton, the Magic have one of the more intriguing young backcourts in the league, but more changes are coming for this franchise in the offseason as Jacque Vaughn was let go in-season and the team has yet to hire a permanent replacement.
Quotable: “This is temporary. So that’s motivation in itself. This year — we just need to use it as fuel and fire and go out and work this summer, and this summer needs to be all about winning. We need to come back and have that mentality to do whatever it takes to win.” – Oladipo after Orlando’s final regular season game.
Morris is joined by SI.com NBA editor and former Podcast on the Brink host Matt Dollinger to discuss a variety of topics, including:
· Dollinger’s perspective on how IU has performed so far this season
· His November column for SI on the IU program, Tom Crean and Mike Davis
· NBA potential for Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams
· The development of Cody Zeller this year in Charlotte
· Noah Vonleh’s decision to go pro and if it was the correct one
· Victor Oladipo’s sophomore season in Orlando and his chances in the dunk contest at All-Star weekend
Periodically throughout the season, we’ll take a look at how former Indiana players are performing in the NBA. Here’s our December update:
· Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic Stats: 15.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals in 32 minutes per game
Notes: Oladipo is clearly the top former IU player in the NBA right now and after he missed the Magic’s first nine games with a facial fracture, he’s been one of the better second year players in the league. He’s shooting the ball much better than he did as a rookie (47.4 percent vs. 41.9 percent), his turnovers are down slightly and the Magic are just two games out of the playoffs in a depleted Eastern Conference.
Quotable: “It’s just about moving forward and not letting my head hang. Before, last year, I would let my head hang and nothing got better and it kept getting worse and worse. I tried something new last game – I stayed positive, I pushed forward and made plays. I went from slow to fast and took my time.” – Oladipo to NBA.com.
Vonleh said he was playing pickup basketball on Indiana’s campus when he felt a “pop,” which he thought was just a groin pull. But the pain grew worse, and he had an MRI that revealed a tear. Vonleh is now able to work out on an elliptical machine and start some light shooting and jogging. He says he’s feeling much better in the last week.