It's been covered, discussed, covered and discussed again over the Tom Crean tenure. The Hoosiers are almost constantly oversigned in their scholarships for the coming basketball season. Even as we sit here today, the Hoosiers are oversigned by two for 2015 and are still out there shopping for what seems like every position. Meaning you should not be shocked if the Hoosiers end up with at least a 2015 class of three players. And I wouldn't be shocked if it were more.
In years previous it was very easy to see situations where the Hoosiers would need those oversigns. In 2012, there were freshman Cody Zeller and junior Christian Watford. Zeller had the ability to go early if he wanted to and Watford has expressed before the season that he's interested in leaving early. Both opted to stay, Zeller for development purposes and Watford for performance purposes. But the oversign was justified.
In 2013, the Hoosiers were in an oversign of two come the fall. But with 3 seniors, Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and oft injured Mo Creek and Austin Etherington on the roster it was easy to find 6 scholarship openings for the 2013 season. Heck in the end, Crean was left standing around holding a couple more as the Hoosiers lost all three seniors, Zeller, Oladipo, Creek and Abell. Meaning he actually had to run out and grab Evan Gordon to fill out the roster for the 2013-14 season.
Heck 2014 was oversigned by 1 coming into the fall and Crean ended up needing to fill another 4 scholarships beyond that when the roster attrition came and went. So there is certainly a history where the oversign was used and with hindsight being 20/20 used properly. However, this 2015 just doesn't appear to have that same natural turnover potential in the roster that the last three have had. In fact, I would say it is a stretch to find two players leaving early on this roster with no seniors. Let alone more than that. This situation leads me to a conspiracy theory that I've convinced myself may actually have legs.
A lot of people have had concerns with the recent recruiting woes that the Hoosiers have been facing. Especially that spring signing class for 2014. In the fall signing period you had a five star, a highly rated four star and late bloomer three star with a ton of shooting ability. If you asked anyone, that was a stellar class for the Hoosiers. However in the spring that class lost a lot of shine. Not necessarily because the Hoosiers signed poor players, but because the guys they did sign were lightly recruited with few proven ability. Not having seen any of them myself, I don't care to comment on whether they're good or not. But the national analysts and the other schools that were recruiting them suggests that these guys have a ways to go to contribute at the Big Ten level.
All of them have the physical tools to be real players at the college level but they're going to need a lot of time. With Crean's reckless abandon in the continuance of signing up more kids, I'm wondering if there is an arrangement that has been discussed. The spring class turned into a class of desperation to fill some roster spots as we saw a mass attrition from the current roster. A lot of these guys were likely headed to prep schools. They had the size and ability, they just needed another year and some more exposure to increase their recruiting potential. So what better way to get more exposure and more coaching than to sign up with a major college program for a year?
Somewhere in the back of my mind is this crazy conspiracy that Tom Crean sat some of these guys down and said, "Hey, I need guys of your size to help fill out my roster. There is no one on this squad over the height of 6'9" and I could really use your size. How about you forego your year of prep school that you were about to take and come hang with us in Bloomington. If you love it there, great, we've got this new program where you can keep your academic scholarship and you're welcome to stay. If you want to continue your basketball career, we'll build you for a year and help you find a place that better suits your needs in the Spring."
Tom Crean can tout one of the most experienced set of bench coaches in the nation. Every single one has coached at various D-I levels and have tons of contacts at those levels. If a kid on IU's roster that can't hack it in the Big Ten wants to continue playing basketball, the Indiana coaching staff is incredibly capable of finding him a roster spot on a mid-major or lower.
The Hoosiers continue to get very highly touted recruits on campus and are in good shape with some of them, so any concerns about the draw of Indiana basketball are unfounded in my opinion. The Hoosiers are still attractive to play for. But with the situation last spring when everyone decided they wanted out, a scramble occurred. When all but 4 of the top 100 ranked players had already signed in the fall, there's a likely chance that you'll be reaching in the spring. The question ultimately remains, how do those reaches affect the program going forward? We can't be certain, but this conspiracy theorist thinks there is already a plan in place.