Of course James Blackmon expects to make Friday’s Hoosier Hysteria. It’s part of his basketball future -- the Assembly Hall crowd, the Indiana tradition, the chance to mingle with potential teammates.
Granted, it won’t involve any of the current players. Blackmon is four years away from being a Hoosier. Heck, he’s a month away from playing in his first high school game. It doesn’t matter. He’s committed to the program and now that practice is set to begin -- as televised spectacle and fan entertainment more than actual preparation -- he’s ready to be a part of it as a spectator.
He won’t be alone. Plenty of IU recruits are set to be on hand. Players such as Austin Etherington, Yogi Ferrell, Ron Patterson, Brenton Scott, Bryson Scott, Jeremy Hollowell, Darryl Baker, Trevon Bluiett, Bryant McIntosh, Zak Irvin, Basil Smotherman and even fellow committed high school freshman Trey Lyles.
A new name is 6-9 forward Greg Lewis of St. Francis Academy in Baltimore. He’s rated as the No. 130 player in the Class of 2011 by Rivals.com. Indiana is one of five finalists along with Maryland, South Florida, Rutgers and UNC-Wilmington.
No, Cody Zeller won’t be at Hoosier Hysteria. The Washington star forward will be taking in the sights of North Carolina’s version of Hoosier Hysteria. He’s already visited Butler. Then comes his official visit to Indiana, and the announcement that will make or break Hoosier hearts.
What will recruits and fans see Friday night? Some basketball drills, a dunk contest, a brief scrimmage and a chance to get autographs, not only from the current men’s and women’s teams, but also such former Hoosier greats as Damon Bailey, Archie Dees, Brian Evans, Jimmy Rayl, Matt Nover, Wayne Radford and Landon Turner.
This reflects coach Tom Crean’s desire to reconnect with Indiana’s basketball past while building toward a brighter future. He’s ready for the losing of the past two years -- the consequence of the NCAA sanctions from the Kelvin Sampson coaching era -- to end and the title-winning ways to begin.
“We’ve got to aspire to get back to that,” he said. “Maybe the greatest opponent we face is that people have gotten used to seeing Indiana struggle. Our opponents like us down.
“For decades Indiana was terrorizing opponents. We were dominating opponents. I can’t stomach somebody, anybody, who doesn’t want to be in that fight to get back to that. The drive to get better, to go above and beyond. That’s the only way make it in this program.”
It seems the mess surrounding Baylor basketball, assistant coach Mark Morefield and some not very nice text messages will not affect the college eligibility of highly regarded recruit Hanner Perea.
FOXSports.com reported that the NCAA is investigating Baylor coach Scott Drew and the program for apparent text messages sent by Morefield to Perea’s AAU and high school coaches in July that violated NCAA rules.
Perea, who is from Columbia, but who now attends high school at LaLumiere in Indiana, has narrowed his college finalists to Baylor and Indiana. He is a highly regarded member of the class of 2012.