Yesterday, news broke out of Durham, NC that Duke sophomore F Semi Ojeleye was leaving the program after a season and a half as a Blue Devil.
BREAKING: Sophomore forward Semi Ojeleye will transfer from Duke: http://t.co/coXXtOmnki— Duke Basketball (@dukebasketball) December 14, 2014
While the announcement was not all that surprising, as Ojeleye was playing sparingly and had fallen behind newcomers Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow in the rotation, Ojeleye was a top-35 recruit less than two years ago. But, after averaging only 10 MPG with no signs of improvement, he iss looking for a fresh start in a new place.
Why Indiana Should Get Involved:
During his recruitment, Ojeleye picked Duke over the likes of Indiana, Stanford, and Oregon. Ojeleye played for the MoKan Elite AAU team, same as 2015 F Juwan Morgan, and a program that the IU coaching staff is still very close to. As an athletic forward, Ojeleye's game revolves around doing a bit of everything, which is exactly the type of position-less player that Tom Crean loves. More of a hybrid forward than a true back-to-the-basket or wing-type, Ojeleye put up gaudy stats in high school and seemed destined for stardom in the ACC.
There is absolutely no reason to believe this was anything more than a playing time issue as the reason for Ojeleye's transfer. Duke is the #2 team in the country, led by guys who could be perennial all-stars at the NBA level in just a few short years. Ojeleye is in good academic standing, and there is no bad blood between him and the Duke coaching staff.
Why Indiana Should Not Get Involved:
Indiana has not immediately expressed interest, and by the reading of the tea leaves, it appears they will not be doing so any time soon. As currently constructed, Semi Ojeleye does not fill any sort of immediate need for the Hoosiers. Given that he won't be able to play until around this time next year (a la Luke Fischer at Marquette), he would be fighting with Troy Williams, Juwan Morgan, Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Emmitt Holt, and hopefully a recovered Devin Davis for the minutes at the forward spots in Tom Crean's guard-heavy offense. While it's not inconceivable (and probably likely) that 2 of those names in that group could play at once, the point remains that IU's most pressing needs are for a legitimate big man that can do the dirty work down low.
A lot of fans will say that it's never a bad idea to take on a former top recruit, and while that can be true, the team's scholarship situation muddies that notion. Already at 2 oversigns for the 2015-16 season, and unless James Blackmon Jr. turns into Victor Oladipo on defense overnight, no one will be leaving for the NBA next summer. Tom Crean has made a habit of turning the roster into somewhat of a revolving door in recent years. From the 2012 "Movement" that only has Yogi Ferrell and Mosquera-Perea still left standing out of the original 5-man class to the three players that left during or after last season's struggles, transfers have come both fast and furious. Furthermore, at least two names from the current roster will not be around next year. Though transfers are up as a whole, it is simply not a good look for a program to have the reputation of having constantly moving parts, whether it's in the eyes of a recruit or simply as a fan.
With Illinois and SMU showing early interest and others sure to follow suit, IU does not appear to be involved, and that may be for the best. While Ojeleye could and most likely will go on to have a productive collegiate career, it would seem to be forcing the issue for Tom Crean to add him to a roster full of players of similar stature. Top-35 transfer talents don't come along very often, but at what point does roster churning start to affect the outside view of the program as a whole?