A few thoughts on recruiting the state of Indiana

  • 06/17/2010 7:43 am in

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.

In 2011, IU is in a battle for Washington’s Cody Zeller and is also pursuing Muncie Central’s Jeremiah Davis.

In 2012, the Hoosiers are being mentioned favorably with in-state talent like Broad Ripple’s Ron Patterson, North Central’s D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Carmel’s A.J. Hammons, Park Tudor’s Yogi Ferrell and Lawrence Central’s Jeremy Hollowell.

And in 2013, Indiana has already offered scholarships to four of the state’s best: Cathedral’s Collin Hartman, Hamilton Southeastern’s Zak Irvin, Heritage Christian’s Basil Smotherman and Warren Central’s Devin Davis.

Land a couple of these guys and all of the chatter about recruiting the state is silenced.

But before you buy into the belief that IU must lock down the Indiana borders to return to prominence, remember that its top three returning scorers — Maurice Creek, Verdell Jones and Christian Watford — all hail from outside of the state.

Ultimately, the best players in the country want to play at winning programs.

As IU continues on its rebuilding path with more wins in 2010-2011, some of the names mentioned above — or players like Aaron Thomas, B.J. Young, Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin — will take notice and make a pledge to become a part of something special.

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