It’s a potential big week for Indiana basketball –- literally.
Kevin Noreen, all 6-10 and 220 pounds of him, is set to visit IU this weekend. He has the kind of high school numbers to suggest instant impact, which is EXACTLY what the Hoosiers need inside.
High school stats, of course, guarantee nothing, especially when they come from the Class A level in Minnesota. Still, they suggest potential.
Noreen averaged 38.2 points and 16 rebounds while leading his high school team to the state title this past season. He set state records with 4,086 career points (by comparison, Damon Bailey has the Indiana high school record at 3,134) and 1,899 career rebounds. He’s smart (a 4.0 student), in demand (Northwestern, Marquette, Providence, Oklahoma, Colorado, Boston College, St. Louis, Washington State, UTEP and Virginia Commonwealth have offered scholarships) and loves puppies.
Check that. We don’t know about the puppies, but we do know Noreen has the potential to boost the inside game.
Also still in the mix is junior college big man Guy-Marc Michel. He’s a 7-1, 265-pound project with a 7-6 wingspan and only about three years of experience in basketball. He used to play soccer.
The fact coach Tom Crean already has had two international projects (Africans Tijan Jobe and Bawa Muniru) in his first two seasons would suggest he doesn’t need a third (Michel is from the Caribbean island of Martinique), but it’s not about suggesting as it is producing. And if Michel can produce, he’ll be worth the gamble.
All of this is part of the process in restoring the program. It starts with getting better players and includes developing them. Crean insists he and his staff are well versed in getting players to reach their full potential. For most recruits, that means a shot at the NBA.
“I want to swing a stick that’s realistic around here,” Crean said. “Realistic means we can get you to that (playing in the NBA). We have one of the great traditions of all time here. Look what happens after you leave this program. The only school that can rival it is North Carolina.”
That is, of course, a very public pitch to recruits –- play at IU, get better, get drafted, get rich, get generous. Is it enough to lure the program-changing recruits?
We’ll know more in a couple of weeks.