Yesterday, Indiana coach Tom Crean met with the media to talk for the first time about the Hoosiers' 2013 recruiting class, which features forward Devin Davis (Warren Central), forward/center Luke Fischer (Germantown, Wisc.), forward Collin Hartman (Cathedral), guard Stanford Robinson (Findlay Prep, Nev.), forward Noah Vonleh (New Hampton School), and forward Troy Williams (Oak Hill Academy). The class is currently third on Rivals.com's team rankings.
I had planned to write a comprehensive piece, with background information on all six signees and quotes from Crean's presser. As I started researching, I discovered that IUHoosiers.com had already done this exact thing. They did it so freakin' well that I thought there was no way I could give you as much information in such a concise, well-presented manner. Therefore, I'm going to link the piece they did and basically get out of the way.
By clicking on that link, you can read detailed reports on all six players and watch multiple videos of Crean and the staff discussing each player. Or, for those of you who prefer reading, there is a full transcript of comments from the press conference.
I do want to highlight a couple of Crean's quotes that I found very interesting.
First, Crean was asked about the fact that Indiana is currently over-signed by three for next season. These comments are mysteriously absent from the full transcript provided by IUHoosiers.com. (I got them from InsidetheHall.com's full video of the press conference. If you go to this link and play the video, Crean answers the over-sign question just after the 21-minute mark.) IUHoosiers.com actually split up the press conference in to multiple videos, possibly in an effort to cut out these comments. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but it's pretty odd that they are nowhere to be found. It seems like a stretch to call it a coincidence, especially since the following quote is one of the only parts excluded from the videos or transcript.
Regardless, here's what Crean said about the over-sign situation when asked what makes him confident that everything would work itself out.
"Well, that's because that's all part of the stuff that goes on in the program as far as being able to project, look ahead, and at the same time have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C. We just have those. That's just the way that it is. It's always like that. It's rarely ever going to ever be public. But I could go to the stock line that it always works itself out, and it does, but it's not like we just throw things out as a whim. We're certainly not trying to stockpile for stockpile's sake. We're trying to make sure we keep building the program and growing the program at a high level, at the level that it needs to be grown at."
Make what you want of that.
The other thing I wanted to highlight was a tangent Crean went on about recruiting rankings. I found this to be awesome and enlightening. Like most fans, I love checking Rivals and ESPN to see where IU's recruits rank. I know it's not the be all and end all, but I always wonder how much coaches look at that stuff.
The question that sparked the following comments was basically this: with the improvement of guys like Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo, who weren't highly ranked recruits, has player development been something that's served as a recruiting pitch when the staff is out on the trail.
"I would say this -- it helps a great deal," Crean said. "Some of the people that rank players for a living are some of my closest friends. I read it non-stop, but we don't make our decisions on it. You just can't. It is part of the tools that are available, so to speak. When we signed Dwyane Wade at Marquette, (current Indiana assistant coach) Tim Buckley and I, he was in one Top 100 list by the end of the year, two at the most, and was seventh in the state for Mr. Basketball. So you always go back to that.
"Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. And you recruit that way. Sometimes it is hard for your fanbase to see it that way, but you have to stay true to that. And we do. But the other thing we did this year, (graduate manager) Seth Cooper did a great study. He went back through the last 12 years and he found out that 28 percent of the consensus Top 100 players had played in at least one NBA game.
"So you start selling that the rankings and the Top 100 mean absolutely nothing when it comes to the next level. They may track you earlier but it doesn't have anything to do with where you get picked or who you play for.
"I truly believe that Victor and Will are going to play in the NBA for a long time, and they were in the 130s and 140 (in the rankings). You look at it and what we were able to do with the track record ... some of the guys we had at Marquette - six of those nine - played in the NBA. So we are going to help you develop. Once you get here, it is a clean slate no matter what. The ranking doesn't help you win a game or lose a game. It doesn't carry you through the next practice, but sometimes it is a burden. But getting better daily and having a plan to get better daily and absorbing what it means to get better daily is what we are trying to do at a high level."
Pretty cool stuff.
Indiana figures to lose sophomore Cody Zeller after this year in addition to seniors Jordy Hulls, Derek Elston and Christian Watford. We will have to see how the rest of the season plays out, but it's not completely inconceivable to think that Oladipo could leave a year early -- not likely, but not too outlandish. Crean's 2013 signees, along with the current freshmen, look to be the type of group that can help the Hoosiers compete at a high level after this season, regardless of who leaves.
On a completely different and unrelated note. Sometimes things happen that make everything else, especially sports, seem incredibly small and insignificant. Today's tragic elementary school shooting in Connecticut is certainly one of those events. When things like this happen, I'm always overtaken with the fragility of life. Make sure you tell the loved ones in your life that you care about them and love them. You can never say it enough.
I know you don't come here for life lessons, but I wanted to get that off my chest.