Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wilson Determined To Win Today, Not Tomorrow

So here we are, the last day of July and all things seem possible for Indiana football -– again.

The Hoosiers have a new coach, a new approach, and a new commitment. The goal is, as it always is, to have a winning record and go to a bowl game.

For those who have followed the Hoosiers, these goals usually carry false hope. Reality ruins optimism and in recent years IU has had its share of gut-wrenching losses. It’s been competitive, but lost. No matter. It’s had just one winning record since 1994.

Kevin Wilson arrived from Oklahoma determined to change that. He's won big as an assistant coach everywhere he's been, and he didn't take the Cream 'n Crimson job to screw that record up. He uses positive reinforcement to show the Hoosiers that, yes, they have made big plays in the past and with just a little tougher approach, they can make game-winning, season-changing plays in the future, starting with this season.

So the question remains –- can Indiana turn the corner and go from a perennial loser to a consistent winner? And will Wilson need all seven of his contract years to get that done?

Athletic director Fred Glass answers with an emphatic yes to the first question and no to the second. Of course, that’s his job and role. You wouldn’t expect him to say –- “What the heck was I thinking with this coaching change,” and then add, “We have no chance.”

To be clear –- Glass DID NOT say that. What did he say during the Big Ten football media gathering?

Glad you asked.

“When we announced we were making a coaching change, sometimes you make a change and take a step back,” Glass said.

“The seven-year contract was a demonstration of having patience over time. Having said that, Kevin isn’t patient. He says the seniors aren’t interested in a four-year plan. They’re interested in winning now. Winning today. That’s what he plans to do.

“In some ways we’re turning the corner already. There will be an additional $2 million a year just to pay Kevin and his assistants. That’s the price of poker to play in this conference. That’s a corner that has been turned at Indiana.

“My predecessor, Rick Greenspan, along with (former coach) Terry Hoeppner did a fabulous job with the North End Zone project, a $55 million investment in the stadium along with other investments like a new scoreboard. So the financial corner has been turned.

“What follows now is turning the competitive corner. I don’t think it’s a seven-year deal. I think we’ll see significant improvement in the short run.”

Credit IU’s turning the financial corner to the Big Ten Network, which now prefers to be called BTN, perhaps to put it more in line with the ESPNs, CBSs, ABCs and NBCs of the TV world.

All 12 Big Ten teams share in the network’s profit, and there’s a huge pool to share from.

“You cannot overstate the benefit of the Big Ten Network,” Glass said. “It’s the best thing since canned soup for Indiana University. We take an equal share of the proceeds. The $17 million (a year) we take from the network means a lot more to my $60 million budget than it does Ohio State’s $126 million budget.

“It’s enabled us to hire (basketball coach) Tom Crean. It’s enabled us to hire Kevin Wilson. It’s enabled us to do the North End Zone facility and a lot of other facility development. It’s critically important.”

There’s only one thing more critical –- winning football games.


It took just two hours for the inaugural Big Ten football title game to sell out. The league put 15,000 tickets up for sale Saturday morning and they quickly sold out.

The league will put an extra 15,000 tickets up for sale for each title game team once those teams have been established. The winners of the two new divisions – Leaders and Legends – will meet Saturday, Dec. 3, at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8:17 p.m. The game will be televised by FOX Sports.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Gunner Benefit -– IU Should Go After Other Elite Prospects

Okay, now that Gunner Kiel has committed to Indiana, let the benefits begin.

You get the nation’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback, as Hoosier coach Kevin Wilson has done with the Columbus, Ind., standout, and good things are bound to happen. You get more recruiting buzz. Guys who wouldn’t think of Indiana suddenly wonder what’s going on with the perennial football loser.

Look, Kiel can’t win games by himself. He needs help, and the better that help is, the more likely IU is to start shocking the Big Ten, and beyond.

Maybe the Hoosiers now have a shot at some other top-rated position players. So we at Hoosier Hoopla decided to see what stud players are still available. In other words, who hasn’t verbally committed to a school?

Right now, IU isn’t in the mix with these guys, but that can change fast

A good quarterback needs good receivers and it just so happens that the nation’s two top-rated receivers haven’t committed to a school yet. The nation’s No. 1 receiver in the Class of 2012 is Dorial Green-Beckham. He’s 6-6 and 220 pounds and is from Missouri. Basically the entire civilized world is recruiting him. The No. 2 receiver is Stefon Diggs from Maryland. He’s listed at 6-foot and 188 pounds and is very, very fast.

Wilson is big on tight ends and the nation’s No. 1 tight end is still available. That would be Kent Taylor from Florida. He’s 6-5 and 220 pounds.

Getting Kiel plenty of skill help won’t mean much without an offensive line that can protect him and still and still generate a strong running game. The nation’s No. 1 guard and tackle are still available. The top-rated guard is California’s Jordan Simmons. He’s listed at 6-5 and 333 pounds. The top tackle is D.J. Humphries, who is listed at 6-5 and 265 pounds. The nation’s third-ranked center is still available. He’s Matt Cochran from California and he’s a mammoth 6-4 and 340 pounds.

Sure, the odds don’t favore the Hoosiers in getting any of these guys, but why not take a shot when you’re hot? There might never be a better time to go after guys like this.

It’s kind of like asking out newly single Jennifer Lopez. The worst she can say is no, and the best is, well, we don’t have to tell you that.


Wilson is an offensive coach. If you understand nothing else about him, understand that. He likes points. He likes to coach teams that score gobs of points. He understands that now more than ever the best teams win with offense rather than defense.

Wilson’s offense goes at such a fast pace than it usually runs 20 percent more plays than typical offenses. This can wear down defenses and force mistakes. That assumes, of course, that the offense is moving the ball. If the offense goes three-and-out a lot and does it fast, well, that puts a big strain on the defense.

For the record, IU rarely plays good defense, which is why it traditionally struggles to win. Wilson knows this, but he isn’t going to change his approach. So when he was asked about modifying things to protect the defense –- as in slowing his uptempo style –- he treated that suggestion as favorably as one to cut off his left foot.

“It’s all about turnovers and help defense,” Wilson said. “When is the last time IU won a 10-7 game? When was the last time Indiana won 17-14? We won five games last year, so it’s not like we totally stunk.

“My deal is you have to score points. Look at the teams that won nine to 10 games last year and how many times they scored 30 points.

“We need to protect our defense, but that’s by turnovers and special teams. You have to score.”

Wilson remembers when he was the offensive coordinator at Northwestern. The Wildcats shared the Big Ten title with a 6-2 record in 2000 thanks to a potent offense.

“We went over 50 points three times,” he said. “We had the worst defense I’ve ever been around. We were Big Ten co-champs by scoring points.

“Yes, we have to protect the defense. You do that by not turning it over and being better on special teams.”

So if the Hoosiers limit their turnovers, get a lot of punts inside the 20-yard line, kickoff well and cover the returns better, they have a chance. It sounds good, but implementing that won’t be easy.

But then, landing the nation’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback wasn’t easy, either.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Now That Gunner Has Committed, What’s Next For Hoosiers?

Yes, we know that Gunner Kiel has committed to play football at Indiana. Because he’s the No. 1 rated pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2012, because this is perennially struggling IU, because recruiting is such a cutthroat business, bet the house that other schools won’t concede anything. They will continue their efforts until Kiel makes it official by signing next February.

Let’s face it, when the Hoosiers beat out the likes of Alabama, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Southern California, Missouri and the rest of the free passing world, somebody ain’t gonna like it. Somebody will test the firmness of Kiel’s commitment.

Coach Kevin Wilson and the rest of his staff know this, of course. Players changing their minds is common in college football, far more common than any other sport, which is among the reasons why some coaches push for an earlier football signing period.

Kiel seems solid in his commitment. He wants to play for Wilson, an offensive guru and offensive coordinator Rod Smith, who also is an offensive guru. He wants to play with older brother Dusty, who will battle for the starting quarterback position at IU this season. He’s from nearby Columbus, so family and friends can easily drive over and watch all his home games.

Kiel seems likely to graduate in December from Columbus East High School and enroll at IU for the start of January’s second semester. It’s the same early rout Jimmy Clausen took at Notre Dame, when he ended up starting as a true freshman.

Wilson couldn’t talk about any of this. NCAA rules prohibit him from saying anything about any recruit until they officially sign. Still, Wilson knows he has recruiting momentum, much like Tom Crean has in basketball. He knows landing an elite recruit like Kiel could entice other stud players to come to IU.

Nothing is guaranteed, and Wilson knows it. Recruits can go bust faster than you can say Bo Barzilauskas. And when you talk momentum, Wilson said it came before Kiel’s commitment or the 14 other guys (including seven from the state of Indiana) who have pledged to become Hoosiers. It started when athletic director Fred Glass hired Wilson, in part because he had the financial resources to give the Hoosiers a chance to compete with the big boys.

“Our administration gave me a chance, first with me and then the staff and then the strength staff,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot of positive momentum through the whole deal.

“I think that (recruiting momentum) is maybe what it looks like on paper right now, but where it’s really helped is how our players have worked.”

The bigger picture and the true end game is not the commitments Wilson gets or the players he signs, but the games he wins. If victories don’t come, recruiting momentum can shrivel fast.

“What’s going to happen in a couple of weeks is the scoreboard is coming on and that momentum needs to keep going as we keep score,” Wilson said. “The last time we played Ball State, it wasn’t on the right side of the scoreboard. Lot of our guys were on that team. The last time we played Virginia, it wasn’t on the right side of the scoreboard. A lot of these guys were in that game.

“We’ve got a lot of kids who have been playing a few years. We’ve got a challenging schedule, but an exciting schedule. I love the way it sets up. To keep the momentum going, it’s going to come down to executing and getting some Ws.”


IU tried to boost its battered tailback position with the late signing of junior college running back Stephen Houston. The 6-foot, 220-pounder rushed for 1,082 yards and five touchdowns at Independence (Kansas) Community College last season. He averaged 6.6 yards a carry.

“He was being reasonably recruited strong,” Wilson said. “He had a situation that fell through for him. He needed to complete a course to graduate, which he did. Is he in shape or what’s he like? I’m not sure.”

Last year’s starting tailback, Darius Willis, missed much of last season with a knee injury and has been injury prone throughout his college career.

“One of the reasons we recruited him was because of my concern for not knowing what I had at running back because so many guys were injured or out in the spring. I know it needs to be a heck of a lot better than what it was in the spring. So throw one more body in the mix.”

Wilson said he’s confident Houston will do the job academically.

“We have a great support system. We’re developing our players whether it’s nutrition or academics. We’ll have the structure for him. His communication skills are good. He should be a good student. If he’s not, he’s not going to play.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

IU Extends Legette-Jack Contract; Chappell heads to D.C.

Felisha Legette-Jack just got a little richer and a whole lot more job security. The Indiana women’s basketball coach got a two-year contract extension, which means she’s set to be around through the 2014-15 season.

According to an IU release, she’ll get an extra $5,000 a year in base salary and an extra $5,000 in marketing income each season. That means the deal will be worth an extra $20,000.

Okay, this is not in John Calipari’s mega-million-dollar category, but it’s significant as Legette-Jack continues her quest to turn the Hoosiers into a consistent Big Ten force.

You come off a 9-20 season, as Legette-Jack did, and any kind of extension has to help peace of mind as well as recruiting. In fact, IU is 23-36 in the last two years and has had a bit of a problem keeping assistant coaches.

No matter. Those struggles didn’t deter athletic director Fred Glass, who has always been a big-picture guy. Legette-Jack is 81-76 in five seasons with the Hoosiers. She’s an energetic force of nature focused on building up what has been a perennially struggling program.

“I have a high degree of confidence in her ability to succeed here,” Glass said in a university release, “and I believe that this will be the first of many (contract) extensions we sign together.”

Legette-Jack won 72 games in his first four seasons at IU, and won at least 18 games in each of her first three seasons. The Hoosiers tied a school record with 21 victories in 2009. Their 2010 upset of then-No. 4 Ohio State was their second-biggest in program history.

IU also ended No. 19 Nebraska’s 37-game regular season winning streak with an upset victory during the 2010 Big Ten/Big 12 Women’s Basketball Challenge.

That’s the good news and, for now, Glass’s focus is on that rather than recent glitches. Legette-Jack is determined to make that pay off.

“I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to be the head women’s basketball coach at Indiana University and I’m excited to be able to continue that journey,” Legette-Jack said in the release. “I can’t wait to keep building this program with student-athletes who represent Indiana with great character, we are excellent academically and bring excitement to the basketball court to create a winning tradition.”


Ben Chappell is going to the Washington Redskins. You remember Chappell, the most accurate quarterback in IU history and the guy who led the Big Ten in passing last season. He’s been cooling his heals along with every other free agent waiting for NFL owners and players to agree and end the lockout that left everybody in limbo.

Well, limbo is over, the agreement is here and Chappell will get a training camp shot with the Washington Redskins. Washington still has Donovan McNabb, but nobody expects that matchup to last much longer. The Redskins also have Rex Grossman, the former Bloomington high school standout who thrived at Florida and then thrilled and chilled Chicago Bears fans, plus John Beck. Washington figures to dump McNabb (reports have the Minnesota Vikings interested in him) and pick up another quarterback, so Chappell has a tough challenge ahead of him.

Tough, but not mission impossible. It’s not like Grossman and Beck can be confused with Manning and Brady. Chappell is healthy, big, strong and smart. He’s also very accurate, which can’t be overstated. He has a chance. That’s all anyone can ask for.

Monday, July 25, 2011

IU Doesn't Get Much Big Ten Expert Love; Turner To Eagles; Beckum Honored; Bigfoot Found

You know football season is almost here when the Big Ten hosts its annual media kickoff event in Chicago. That runs this Thursday and Friday and, in advance of that, the conference usually comes up with its preseason favorites and players of the year.

For some reason, that’s not happening this year. So a few of the most brilliant football Big Ten media minds (yes, that includes Hoosier Hoopla), spurred by the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Doug Lesmerises, got together to assemble the absolutely accurate, totally most definitive preseason picks.

So what did we come up with? Nebraska was the preseason favorite and picked to win the first Big Ten title game. The Cornhuskers got 12 of the 24 votes. Wisconsin was next with 11. Michigan State got one.

The offensive player of the year went to Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. He doubled the voting point total of runner up Dan Persa, the Northwestern quarterback.

The defensive player of the year went to Nebraska defensive lineman Jared Crick. He beat out Husker linebacker teammate Lavonte David.

Finally, there was a best coach category. The winner was Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema. Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz was second. Nebraska’s Bo Pelini was third.

This is interesting because Penn State’s Joe Paterno is the winningest major-college coach in history, yet he rated just seventh in the poll with just one vote. Paterno is well past his 80th birthday and shows no inclination of retiring, but the common perception is that he’s past his coaching prime.

As for Indiana football, the media picked the Hoosiers to finish last in the Leaders Division, with Wisconsin chosen to win it and Ohio State to finish second. Nebraska is picked to win the Legends Division.


In case you’re wondering why Hoosier Hoopla blogs have slowed down lately, it’s because we were on vacation in Colorado hiking, biking and, yes, searching for Bigfoot.

We climbed 14,003-foot Huron Peak, as spectacular a hike as there is in the U.S.; took bike rides to Vail Pass and Golden (where Coors beer is made); journeyed into Rocky Mountain backcountry that has become mountain lion territory (important safety tip -– if a mountain lion attacks you, don’t play dead, fight with everything you’ve got and never, ever, quit) and found Bigfoot just outside of Leadville, Colorado.

Yes, not everybody believes in Bigfoot, which is why we got an absolutely true and undoctored photo of the legendary beast. We will post it soon.

Oh, as a reader has asked, we do have a message to Hoosier Deepthroat about football recruiting. We hope to hear back soon.


Okay, here’s the deal if you’re Ohio State. You can have five ineligible players, guys who EVERYBODY knows are ineligible because of tattoos-for-cash-and-memorabillia violations, and get to play them in a bowl game. Then, after you’ve won that bowl game, in big part because of those ineligible guys, you get to have a big celebration.

Then, months later, when it’s determined your coach broke NCAA rules and lied to the NCAA and basically everybody except quarterback Terrell Pryor’s Pennsylvania mentor, you don’t suffer any real consequences.

Sure, your coach resigns, but that was a no-brainer. Yes, you forfeit all your games from last year, but does that really matter. You might as well have forfeited all the games from the 1910 season. It’s history, over with, done. The NCAA has basically said there won’t be any postseason bans or scholarship reductions or other sanctions.

From here on out, there likely won't be any consequences.

So while, say, USC football takes a hit for its Reggie Bush transgressions; while IU basketball is only now recovering from Kelvin Sampson’s phone calling excesses, the Buckeyes are set to roll on, sanction free.

It doesn’t seem fair, but when you have the kind of national clout Ohio State has, fairness isn’t part of the equation.


IU linebacker Leon Beckum is up for a major good-guy award. It’s the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and it’s for the nation’s top 11 players whose willingness to volunteer and participate in community service make them really special student-athletes.

Beckum is the fourth straight Hoosier nominated, joining Ben Chappell (2010), Jammie Kirlew (2009) and Austin Starr (2008). Chappell and Kirlew wound up making the team.

Beckum puts the “student” in the student-athlete designation. He has a 3.288 grade point average as a fitness specialist major and has earned three academic All-Big Ten awards. Figure he’ll make it four by the end of the year.

He’s developed into a solild Big Ten player. Last season he had 69 tackles, three sacks and nine tackles for loss, which led the team. He’s played all three linebacker positions in his career.


Former IU receiver Terrance Turner will get his NFL shot after signing as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles. Turner was in limbo until the 136-lockout between owners and players ended on Monday. Turner quickly signed with the Eagles. He’ll get training camp to prove he belongs on the roster.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kiel-To-IU Drama Continues; Is LSU Forward a Hoosier Answer?

Do you realize what it would mean if Columbus superstar prep quarterback Gunner Kiel picks Indiana to play his college football?

It would be huge for the program, short term and long term. It would show coach Kevin Wilson has the recruiting clout to land what may be the nation’s No. 1 quarterback prospect and could generate the kind of recruiting momentum basketball coach Tom Crean has now.

Oh, yes. It might mean some SERIOUS winning down the road.

Granted, IU would still need an offensive line to protect Kiel and skill players to maximize his potential, but you have to start somewhere.

Consider, for instance, the impact Anthony Thompson had on the Hoosiers back in the 1980s.

But all this remains speculation. Kiel’s decision has all the drama of the opening of the Indiana Jones movie, and rumors are everywhere. He’s going to be a Hoosier. No. He’s heading to Alabama. Wait. He’ll call Oklahoma his home. Or is it Tennessee or Missouri?

He was supposed to decide last month, or was it last week?

Hey, making a decision that will affect the rest of your life is tough, especially when you have so many prospects.

For now, Kiel is in Malibu, California, which is a GORGEOUS place to be. He is participating in the Elite 11 quarterback competition at Pepperdine University. Twenty-three of the nation’s other top high school quarterbacks are there, and most of them already have committed.

Kiel has not and the suspense could kill a Hoosier fan craving for football success.

Kiel has NFL quarterback size right now at 6-4 and 215 pounds. He makes all the throws and does so accurately. That is huge. Accuracy is among the many reasons why Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are so good. When they throw, the ball never hits the ground. listed Kiel as having the third-best first day at the Elite 11 camp, behind Alabama's Jameis Winston and Idaho's Tanner Mangum.

IU has a possible edge by having Dusty Kiel, Gunner’s brother, on track to be the Hoosier starting quarterback this season. Nothing is etched in stone. Wilson will make the older Kiel earn the position, and that won’t be determined until next month in training camp. Still, Gunner will attend a lot of Hoosier games, which will give Wilson plenty of chances to make a big impression.

If Gunner waits that long. Signing day isn’t until February, so there really isn’t any rush except in the minds of those dying to know. Coaches will wait on Gunner’s decision, however long that takes. He’s indicated that will come before school.

Quarterbacking is a family tradition given that another older brother, Drew, is at Illinois State. What they’ve gone through, both in the recruiting process and what’s expected at the college level, has helped prepare Gunner.

He has all the makings of an elite quarterback. Can he turn down the big-time draw of an Alabama or Oklahoma or, to a lesser extent, a Missouri to become a Hoosier?

IU still has a chance. For now, that has to be enough.


Could IU use a 6-11, 230-pound inside basketball force?

Are you nuts? Of course the Hoosiers could use somebody like that given their inside vulnerability in recent years.

Is Garrett Green that guy?

Who knows?

Green played three years at LSU and is poised to graduate this summer. NCAA allows graduated players to enroll in graduate school at another college and play right away if they have one remaining year of eligibility. Green does (he redshirted one year because of back problems). He wants to start a Master’s sports management program. Guess what? IU has one.

However, Green only averaged 6.3 points and 5.1 minutes last season. He only started 17 games in three years. He is not the second coming of Shaq. Still, he once scored 18 points against Auburn and grabbed 13 rebounds against Wichita State. Those aren’t insignificant numbers. A stiff wouldn’t do that.

Green is set to visit Indiana this week. He’ll likely make other visits as well.

This would be a one-and-done deal, which would work for Indiana considering the next season is when all the Class of 2012 prospects arrive. For this season Green would boost an inside game featuring freshman Cody Zeller and senior Tom Pritchard. If nothing else, he’ll provide depth. And if he can defend and rebound and score off others’ misses, well, it would really, really help.


IU has a new head football coach and now new uniforms and helmets. Will that make an impact in the record?

We’ll have to see.

The Hoosiers are returning to a more traditional look. Gone are the stripes on the helmets and jersey sleeves. Forget about the red face masks. Now they’ll be classic white. The new jerseys will be traditional red and white. They’ll have adidas’ TECFIT compression technology.

What does TECFIT mean? Adidas says they jerseys will be 30 percent lighter, although it’s uncertain if it will make IU players 30 percent faster. The compression fit means it’s nice and snug, so there’s nothing for opponents to grab.

Athletic director Fred Glass is happy with the new uniforms, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given he gave the green light.

“I think fans are really going to like our return to a more traditional design and color scheme,” he said in a university release.

The fact adidas is providing all this isn’t a coincidence. IU has an all-sports agreement with the company. Adidas provides uniforms, shoes and equipment for every Hoosier sport, plus licensing gear and clothing. This is the fourth year of an eight-year deal.

IU will debut the new look with its Sept. 3 season opener against Ball State at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.

“The uniforms are really sharp,” Wilson said in a university release. “Our guys will be excited and the fans will love them. We wanted a look that builds on tradition yet has a cutting edge style that our players with wear with IU pride.”

Friday, July 15, 2011

Crean Goes Young Again; Pirates Sign Dickerson

Tom Crean is at it again.

For the second straight year Crean has used summer recruiting to offer a basketball scholarship to Indiana to a player who has yet to begin his high school career. This time it’s Indianapolis Cathedral point guard Jalen Coleman. He’s a member of the Class of 2015, which means he won’t start high school until next month and won’t play in his first prep game until late November or early December.

Is it early?

You bet.

Is it too early to offer?

That’s open for debate. Crean takes a risk that Coleman will develop into a strong college player. Some guys are no-brainers. Most are not. A coach has to do a lot of research into the player as an athlete, a student and a person. You can bet Crean has done that.

Crean got a good look at Coleman while Coleman he played for the Eric Gordon 15-and-Under team. Crean liked what he saw and, as is his nature, didn’t mess around in offering a scholarship.

Last summer he offered James Blackmon and Trey Lyles. Both Class of 2014 players committed to the Hoosiers.

Coleman has not committed to IU. He likely will wait to see what other offers he gets. He has plenty of time to decide. He could follow the example of Blackmon and Lyles and get it out of the way fast. Or, he could be like Hamilton Southeastern’s Gary Harris and let the recruiting process play out to his senior season.

Coleman has shown during the travel ball season that he can score, defend, handle the ball and create. He’ll obviously have to get bigger, stronger, more mature and more consistent. If he does, if he works on his game, he’ll become the kind of dominating player a program like Indiana could use. If not, well, there are no guarantees in recruiting.

Only potential and possibilities.


Okay, so Alex Dickerson isn’t an instant millionaire. He was a third-round Major League Baseball draft pick, after all, and the Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t known for throwing Yankees money at their picks.

Still, Baseball America reported that Dickerson got a signing bonus of $380,700 for signing with the Pirates, which ain’t bad for a guy who was the No. 91 pick overall in this year’s draft and the first pick in the third round.

Dickerson, who was drafted last month after foregoing his senior season at IU, will start with the Pirates’ short-season single-A team, the State College Spikes.

Pittsburgh picked Dickerson because the guy can hit. Sure, he might not be the fastest guy around and reminds no one of a Gold Glove winner on defense, at least not yet, but the guy can hit. He’s a former Big Ten triple-crown winner (leading the league as a sophomore in batting average, home runs and runs batted in) with the kind of offensive pop the Pirates can use.

In 2010 he hit .419 with 24 home runs and 75 runs batted in and earned All-America status.

“Alex is an offensive-oriented corner type best suited for first base,” Pirates director of scouting Greg Smith said in a release. “He is a power/bat combo guy who has performed well, which is illustrated by him winning the triple crown in the Big Ten.”

In three seasons Dickerson hit 47 home runs, which ties the school career record. He also ranks fourth in slugging percentage (.657), fifth in batting average (.386) and hits (266), and sixth in runs batted in (181).

There are 16 former Hoosiers playing professional baseball, and 15 of them played for IU head coach Tracy Smith.

The Pirates’ back-from-ineptitude season (47-43 at the All-Star break and one game behind in the NL Central Division race) has been fueled by pitching. They need more hitting and if Dickerson develops fast, he has a chance to make a quick impact.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

No Shadows – Bluiett’s Play Justifies IU Basketball Offer; Football Lineman Commits to Hoosiers

Trevon Bluiett isn’t doing all this travel basketball stuff so he can play in the shadows.

The 6-5 wing wants to make a big-time impact, especially with all the big-time events on his schedule in the next few weeks.

You’d better believe he’s doing it. He’s consistently broken the 20-point barrier this summer for Spiece Indy Heat after racking up 21 points in an Indiana high school state title game last spring.

“My mentality is, go and score,” he says. “Whenever my team needs me, I gotta be there, be the leader, be able to score and get our team where it needs to be.”

Bluiett has had an offer from IU for the last year, but that won’t keep him from visiting Butler soon, and likely some other colleges, including Purdue (he was there a couple of weeks ago). Boiler coach Matt Painter has told Bluiett he wants him to make another visit. IU coach Tom Crean has a similar request. Marquette, Baylor and Florida State also are interested.

Who knows? Bluiett might hit 6-8 by the time he’s finished growing.

Bluiett plays his high school ball at Indianapolis Park Tudor, which also has a pretty decent player named Yogi Ferrell, a point guard who is committed to IU for the Class of 2012. For now, Ferrell is the catalyst for a high school program that has a state runner-up finish and a state title in the record books over the last two years, and is look for one more championship.

On most teams, Bluiett would be THE guy. On the Park Tudor team, Yogi has that role and the younger Bluiett (he’s in the Class of 2014) is fine with that.

“During high school you let Yogi do his thing,” Bluiett says. “That’s his team and he’s the leader. When I come over here (to Spiece Indy Heat), I show what I got.”
What’s he’s got, Bluiett’s father and Spiece coach Reynardo Bluiett says, is impressive.

“Trevon is multi-dimensional,” the father says. “Whatever the team is lacking at that time, whether it’s bringing the ball up, shooting the ball, rebounding or defending, he gets it done. He has a lot of talent, and he’s working on getting stronger and quicker.”

Trevon Bluiett and P.J. Thompson give Spiece Indy Heat a formidable presence. When you consider James Blackmon, Jaquan Lyle and Trey Lyles (Blackmon and Lyles have committed to IU; Crean has offered Lyle) also are on this Class of 2014 roster, you wonder what can stop them.

Tough competiton, for one. Spiece Indy Heat are getting ton of it this summer, especially considering they are playing a year up. Yeah, they want to win, but developing themselves as players and people also are part of the mix.

“These guys have been around each other for a while,“ Reynardo Bluiett says. “With this college opportunity being a reality, it brings an edge to these guys when they go home after the tournaments are over. That’s when a lot of people don’t see these guys working. And they’re really working hard.”

Does all this work and travel events get fatiguing?

Are you nuts? Research shows that teenagers never, ever get tired unless asked to do chores.

Basketball is not a chore.

“Basketball is my life,” Trevon says. “I grew up playing it. I never get tired of playing the game.”

That’s expecially true when big-time coaches such as Crean are watching, although Trevon downplays that significance.

“It’s been a good experience. I’ve been playing in front of college coaches since the seventh grade. I’m used to it. They’re just people in the stands. I have to play my game and not show off for anybody.”


And then there were 12.

Coach Kevin Wilson now has a dozen football recruits committed to his IU program. The latest is Wes Rogers, not to be confused with Mister Rogers, who was a meek, mild-mannered, sweater-wearing guy children loved to watch back when TV was just three networks and nobody had even thought of something like ESPN.

Wes Rogers is a 6-5, 275-pound lineman from Indianapolis Lawrence Central. He has a mustache and goatee, which as everyone knows makes him a manly man, although he’d be even more manly if he shaved his head, not that we’re recommending that.

Anyway, Rogers plays offense and defense for the Bears, but will likely stick with offense at IU, either at center or guard. listed him as a three-star prospect and the nation’s No. 8 center. He’s the third offensive lineman to commit to the Hoosiers for the Class of 2012. Figure a year or two in the Hoosier weight program will get him above 300 pounds.

Rogers attended an IU one-day camp last month. New offensive line coach Greg Frey made a big impression, and not just because he’d spent the previous three years at Michigan.

Rogers had gotten scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Air Force, Army and a bunch of Mid-American Conference schools. Iowa and Northwestern were interested. He comes from the same high school that produced Tre Roberson, last year’s Indiana Mr. Football and a freshman for the Hoosiers. He and Roberson are good friends, which just might have contributed to his college decision.

Wilson’s uptempo system needs fit, fast, strong and nasty offensive linemen. Rogers seems to fit that mold -- even with a full head of hair.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Patience PJ – Good Things Coming For IU Prospect

PJ Thompson understands this patient thing. His time will come. College basketball scholarship offers will come his way, just as they have for Spiece Indy Heat teammates James Blackmon, Trey Lyles, Trevon Bluiett and Jaquan Lyle.

Recruiting is a fickle thing, just like dating. Sometimes it can be wonderful, sometimes frustrating, sometimes cruel.

At least, that’s the way we remember it.

Dating that is. College basketball was never part of our master plan.

Anyway, Thompson is a 5-10 guard with a lot of upside. He’s quick; he can shoot; he can handle the ball. But he’s not yet the second coming of Steve Nash or Deron Williams, which is true of most kids getting ready to enter their junior year in high school.

College coaches took a good, long look at Thompson during the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis. They’ll continue evaluating him during this busy July.

And then they will offer.

As for where he stands in the whole recruiting process right now, here’s what we know.

Blackmon and Lyles are committed to IU. In fact, they basically said “I will” a year ago, well before they’d even played a high school game. Bluiett has an offer from IU. Lyle has offers from IU, Purdue, Xavier and Illinois.

All Thompson has is interest, but it is impressive given that it’s coming from the Hoosiers, Purdue, Stanford, Notre Dame, Butler, Tennessee, Xavier and Ball State.

Is he frustrated?

Not exactly. It’s that patience and maturity thing he has going for him. You'd expect that from a guy, even a young guy, who has grown up in a rich basketball environment.

His father, LaSalle, played for Indianapolis Pike and Ball State. His grandfather played basketball. So did his great grandfather.

So if coaches aren't knocking down his door with offers, well, he has a treasure chest of family experience to draw from. Even practical experience considering all the time he puts in the gym working with his father.

“It’s still early for me,” he says. “I’m just a sophomore. Some of my teammates have committed, and good for them. I hope the best for them. They’ll do great where they committed. As for me, I’ll take the process slowly. I’ll weigh my options out. I have three more years to decide on a college. I want to make sure it’s a perfect fit for me.”

Thompson plays for Indianapolis Brebeuf High School when he’s not running the Spiece Indy Heat show. That mean he’s getting a ton of valuable experience year-round.

And here’s something else -- Spiece Indy Heat is good enough to be playing up a year, and playing well. Given at this age one year can make a huge difference in terms of physical and mental maturity, that’s impressive. The fact Thompson has such a large role for such a high-profile team bodes well for his future, and Spiece coach Reynardo Bluiett knows it. The coach praises Thompson’s high basketball IQ.

“A lot of times that gets overlooked,” he says. “He can give you different things on the court that makes us a better team.”

Thompson spends a lot of time on his own working to make himself better, which is what you find in any great player in any sport.

“He has worked on his lateral quickness,” Reynardo Bluiett says. “His basketball IQ makes up for a lot of that. He’s working on it daily. I know his routine. He’ll get better and better.”

The fact Thompson is playing with and competing against big-time talent will only accelerate that improvement. And the No. 1 priority, he says, is improving his leadership.

“Playing with all this talent, some of the top players in the country and top players in the state, leadership is a big thing. For me to stick out, I have to be a good leader and make plays for myself as well as my teammates.

Guys like Blackmon, Lyles, Trevon Bluiett and Lyle make that easy for him, he adds.

“I know if I make a good pass to them, they’ll knock the shot down.”

While college coaches haven’t offered him a scholarship yet, they are talking to him about what they want to see from him.

“Being able to be aggressive and make plays,” Thompson says. “Just making plays is what they want to see. Talking out there. Playing like you’re one of the best players on the court. Playing with confidence.”

Thompson tries to deliver and knowing that coaches such as Tom Crean, Matt Painter, Mike Brey and Brad Stevens are watching is inspiring.

“I get real excited and knowing all these coaches are watching makes us want to win even more and play better as a team.”

See, Thompson gets it. Because in the end, it’s all about winning. And when it comes to recruiting, he will.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

No Rest For Travel Basketball's Best; Vacate vs. Forfeit; Point Guards Looking Good

Rest? Who has time for that on the travel basketball July circuit?

Certainly not Spiece Indy Heat and its coach, Reyardo Bluiett.

Yes, he’s the father of Class of 2014 standout Trevon Bluiett and he understands the demands that come from directing a high-profile team. This is a very high-profile team considering it includes Fort Wayne’s James Blackmon (he’s committed to IU), Trey Lyles (he’s also committed to Indiana), Evansville’s Jaquan Lyle (who’s been offered by IU), Trevon Bluiett (hes also been offered by IU), Indianapolis P.J. Thompson (who’s generating a LOT of interest), and more.

“It gets a little much, but you know you’re doing it for the kids,” Reynardo Bluiett says. “You’re doing it so these guys can go to school and take care of their families one day. You keep that in the back of your mind.

“I miss work and miss my other kid, but I’m working for these guys right now.”

The work can be relentless. For instance, the adidas Invitational ended on Saturday.
That night, the adidas College Coaches Classic began. It included Indiana Elite One and Hoosier commit from the Class of 2012, Ron Patterson. The Classic was held at North Central High School and Northview Middle School, the same location as many of the adidas Invitational games.

Meanwhile, Louisville’s Kentucky Hoopfest has begun. So has the D-1 Elite tourney in Elmhurst, Ill. And don’t forget the IBCA top 100 event at Indianapolis Ben Davis High School. That starts on Monday.

Spiece Indy Heat is in Elmhurt. In a few days it will be at the Fishers Fieldhouse for an event. Then the team will take a week or so off before competing in the St. Louis Classic and a Fort Wayne event to end the month.

“It’s a grind,” Reynardo Bluiett says, “but we know it’s coming every year. There’s no getting around it. It’s just like taxes.”

Only a lot more fun.


A reader wondered if a vacated football win counts on the other team’s record. Specifically, does Ohio State vacating all of its victories for the 2010 season, including its win over IU, change the Hoosiers’ record from 5-7 to 6-6.

Technically, IU’s record probably does stay the same. Ohio State vacating its victories doesn’t change the overall official record. It’s likely, however, that the NCAA will mandate that the Buckeyes have to forfeit all of its games for playing ineligible players that its head coach (Jim Tressel) knew had violated NCAA rules, so in the end the Hoosiers’ record will be 6-6.

The NCAA has final say, just as it did when it got Kentucky to acknowledge that basketball coach John Calipari had to give up a bunch of victories because of issues during his days at Massachusetts and Memphis.

All this won’t change anything as new coach Kevin Wilson begins his new Cream ‘n Crimson football adventure. He’s determined to win right away and if the quarterback situation is satisfactorily resolved and the defense is just mediocre, IU has a chance.

Yes, we know. It’s July when all things are possible, even the Pittsburgh Pirates making the playoffs for the first time since Moses parted the Red Sea.


Detroit point guard Derrick Walton looked awfully good during the adidas Invitational. He’s quick, can score and can handle the ball. He’s rated as the No. 88 player in the class of 2013.

IU coaches took a long look at him, but so did Michigan State coaches, including former IPFW head coach and Hoosier standout Dane Fife, who is now a Spartan assistant coach.

Michigan has offered Walton a scholarship. Michigan State has not. Neither has IU. Xaiver, Detroit, Iowa State and Central Michigan also has offered scholarships.

The Hoosiers might be more interested in another point guard, Demetrius Jackson of Mishawaka Marion. He’s rated as the No. 71 player in the class.

For what it’s worth, Walton is 6-foot and 170 pounds to Jackson’s 6-1 and 179.

IU also is looking at Fisher’s point guard Jaylon Brown and Michigan swingman Bo Zeigler.

As Hoosier coach Tom Crean has said, recruiting never stops. Never.


Indiana Elite/Team Indiana just missed a chance to play in a nationally televised game when it lost in Saturday’s adidas Invitational semifinals to New Heights NYC 60-58.

Jeremy Holloway once again led Indiana Elite, this time with 15 points. Yogi Ferrell had 11 points. The other big gun and IU commitment, Hanner Perea, fouled out with just two points.

Hollowell averaged 21.4 points in the event.

In the title game, which was televised by CBS College Sports TV, New Heights NYC lost to the Florida Rams 89-82.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hollowell Finds His Fire; IU Benefits From Ohio State Football Scandal; More

Has Jeremy Hollowell finally found his fire? Is his passion and intensity finally matching his potential?

His performance at the adidas Invitational suggests yes to both. If that’s true, it bodes very well for Indiana’s basketball future.

Hollowell had a team-leading 28 points in another Indiana Elite/Team Indiana victory, this time 75-65 over the Houston Defenders on Friday. He’s been the team’s dominant scorer, if not dominant player, in every game, averaging 23.2 points. Sure, Hanner Perea has more spectacular dunks and Yogi Ferrell more running-the-show leadership, but the 6-7 Hollowell has been the guy with the big offense this week, which is what you’d expect from a guy rated as the nation’s No. 11 small forward and No. 52 player overall in the Class of 2012.

Hollowell is far from a finished product. He has to play better defense, become a better rebounder, understand what working hard really means and just play with more consistency, but that’s true of every high school player.

The bottom line is it seems that the casual attitude that hindered him earlier has been replaced by a more mature approach. He’s becoming the player IU coach Tom Crean envisioned when he offered him a scholarship. If that continues, look out. He might end up being the best player on what should be a dynamite freshman class.


What does Ohio State forfeiting its entire 2010 football season mean for Indiana?

Not much in the big picture, but it does give the Hoosiers a 6-6 record for the season, 2-6 in the Big Ten, instead of 5-7 and 1-7. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 2 when they beat IU 38-10 in Columbus last season.

Ironically, if the forfeit had occurred during last season, it would have made the Hoosiers bowl eligible and, perhaps, gotten them a bowl bid and, with an even bigger perhaps, saved former coach Bill Lynch’s job.

Instead, Lynch was fired and Kevin Wilson was hired.


Ohio State is trying to dodge the wrath of the NCAA in the wake of its memorabilia-for-cash-and-tattoos scandal. It forfeited the entire 2010 football season, including its Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas. It stripped its program of a share of the Big Ten title and ended its seven-game winning streak against Michigan. It put the program on a two-year probation, meaning there will be harsher penalties if more violations are discovered.

Oh, yes. It got rid of coach Jim Tressel. Technically, he resigned, although that didn’t fool anyone. Then, in a neat twist, it said he retired rather than resigned and is waiving its $250,000 fine against him for breaking NCAA rules. Tressel has indicated he’ll take responsibility for the NCAA investigation.

Finally, quarterback Terrelle Pryor left school and will try to get into the NFL.

Is that enough to prevent a loss of scholarships and a postseason ban?


Tressel and Ohio State will go before the NCAA Infractions committee next month to give their side of this mess. Tressel didn’t start the problem -- players who sold memorabilia for cash and tattoos did –- but he sure made it a lot worse. He knew about the violations and didn’t tell anyone for almost a year, lying to the NCAA and his own university in the process.

Athletic director Gene Smith said the university will change the way it manages its football players. It will focus on the cars they drive, where they live and what bars and restaurants they visit. It all sounds good, but is it enough to buy NCAA mercy?

Our guess is the NCAA will add additional sanctions, including a postseason ban. Ohio State already has lost a couple of recruits, and when this is over, it will lose a couple more.

IU is only now recovering from its basketball mess. Figure the Buckeyes are about to go through similar struggles in football.

We should know sometime this fall.


So now we know, thanks to Jeff Rabjohns and, that Hamilton Southeastern shooting guard Gary Harris has narrowed his recruiting list to four schools: Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State and Louisville. Much like Cody Zeller last year, he will make his official visits in the fall and then pick a school.

Considering that Harris is the No. 28 ranked player in the Class of 2012, it will be a huge announcement and big news for whichever school lands him.

One thing. He’ll only make official visits to three of those schools and will finalize that by the end of the summer.

If he goes to IU, he would clinch any doubt that it has the best recruiting class in the nation. The Hoosiers already have Yogi Ferrell, Ron Patterson, Hanner Perea, Jeremy Hollowell and Peter Jurkin.

Both of Harris’s parents went to Purdue, and his mother played basketball for the Boilers, but that doesn’t give the Boilers any more of an edge. It will be Gary’s decision based on what’s best for him.

Could that be football given he’s an outstanding prospect in that sport? It’s very unlikely, although the Harris family told Rabjohns that football coaches from Notre Dame, Alabama, LSU, Florida State and Tennessee have contacted him.

Here’s how much Crean wants Harris. He came to more Hamilton Southeastern football games than any other college basketball coach last season. He also was very visible at the LeBron James Skill Academy in Akron this week where Harris is playing.

Figure Crean will attend every Hamilton Southeastern home football game this season. Don’t be surprised if he has to battle Purdue’s Matt Painter, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Louisville’s Rick Pitino for most visible college basketball coach on the sidelines.

No matter what happens, it’s going to be a very intriguing fall.


IU’s Mitch Ewald is reaping the benefits of a big-time kicking freshman season. He is one of 30 candidates for the Lou Groza Award, which goes annually to the nation’s top kicker. Ewald went 16-for-19 last season. The 16 field goals ties Bill Manolopoulos for third on IU’s single-season list. He also went 33-for-33 on extra points. He earned All-Freshman honors by and

After kicking the game winning field goal in overtime to beat Purdue, he was named Big Ten freshman of the week and Big Ten special teams player of the week.

The award is named for Lou “The Toe” Groza, a Hall of Fame kicker for the Cleveland Browns and the 1954 NFL player of the year.

IU Recruits Winning Big; Wilson Adds Running Back; And More

In the end with all this Indiana basketball recruiting, it’s about winning. It doesn’t matter where the Hoosiers' Class of 2012 is ranked or how high guys such as Hanner Perea, Yogi Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell are rated.

Can they win? When they get to Indiana, will they help restore the Cream ‘n Crimson tradition?

We won’t know that until they get to IU, but we can get an indication from their play in high school and travel ball.

At the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis, it looks like they’ve finally gotten a handle on this winning thing.

Much has been made of the fact that their travel team, Indiana Elite/Team Indiana didn’t win a tournament in the spring. There were a lot of factors in that, primarly that the squads they went against were really, really good.

Well, the Super Pool they were in at the adidas Invitational was ridiculously tough. There was Dream Vision with the nation’s No. 1 player, Shabazz Muhammand. There was Connecticut with No. 2 Andre Drummond, a guy so big you can’t believe he’s still a teen ager. There was a talented Atlanta Celtics squad.

Indiana Elite went 2-1 against them after roughing up the Atlanta Celtics 72-60 on Thursday and could have/should have beaten Dream Vision. It blew a 14-point second-half lead, mostly because Muhammad went all Kobe Bryant with 39 points.

Perea totaled 15 points against the Atlanta Celtics. Ferrell added 10 points. Hollowell had a team-high 18 points, which continued his big-scoring efforts in this event.

Indiana Elite/Team Indiana coach Mark Adams added some guards to help take the pressure off Ferrell, and that helped, but this squad will go as far as Ferrell, Perea and Hollowell will lead them. They are doing the job and if the winning continues in Indianapolis and the rest of the month, look out. It will bode very well for when they finally join the Hoosiers.


IU coach Tom Crean continues to cover all recruiting bases. On Thursday he was in Akron for the LeBron James Skill Academy to check out super star recruits Gary Harris and Mitch McGary, among others. Yes, Purdue coach Matt Painter was there, as well, so the recruiting battle continues.

The Hoosiers, meanwhile, continue to check out point guards. They really don’t have a true point guard on the current roster (Jordan Hulls comes the closest, but they’ll run a mix of Hulls, Verdell Jones and combo guard Remy Abell this season). Ferrell will have the role for the Class of 2012, but Crean and his staff are looking for 2013 help.

It could come from Demetrius Jackson out of Mishawaka Marian or Derreck Walton out of Michigan. Jackson scored 21 and 28 points in adidas Invitational games. He’s been offered by Michigan and Xavier, and is rated No. 71 in the class. Walton is from Detroit and had 35 points against Speice Indy Heat. He’s rated No. 88. Michigan has offered Walton, and Michigan State could be next.


Just when you thought IU football coach Kevin Wilson was done adding to his group of 2011 newcomers, here comes a junior college twist.

Stephen Houston, who thrived during his one year as a running back at Independence (Kansas) Community College, has joined the IU football program.

What does it mean?

For starters, it gives the position some depth, crucial given the knee injuries that have staggered the prospects. Darius Willis remains in the uncertain category after last season’s knee surgery, so finding a mature running back was important.

Is Houston that guy?

Well, he’s 6-2 and 220 pounds, so he has good size. At Independence last season he rushed for 1,082 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 6.6 yards a carry.

As a high school senior in Ohio he rushed for 887 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also was a very good hurdler in track. As a two-sport athlete, he has the kind of athleticism you want in a running back.

Still, we won’t know how much he’ll help this season, if he can help at all, until fall camp begins next month.


Can Damarlo Belcher be the next Fred Biletnikoff?

Maybe, but first you have to ask yourself, who is Fred Biletnikoff. For those of a certain age, which means you remember when Johnny Quest ruled Saturday morning cartoons, Biletnikoff links back to a hard-hitting past. He was an outstanding receiver for the Oakland Raiders and Florida State, setting a standard the college game still honors.

Belcher is in the running for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes annually to the nation’s top receiver. He had 78 catches last season, second in school history to James Hardy’s 79. He led the Big Ten in receptions. He is the 15th Hoosier to reach 100 career catches and 1,000 career yards. He ranks third in school history with 164 catches and sxith with 1,939 yards.

Hardy has the record with 191 catches for 2,740 yards.

Also, tight end Ted Bolser is on the watch list for the John Mackey Award, given annually to the nation’s top tight end. He had 27 catches for 407 yards and five touchdowns last season as a freshman.

John Mackey was an All-Pro tight end for the then Baltimore Colts. He died recently after suffering from dementia.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Crean And Staff All Over Adidas Invitational

Tom Crean hit the adidas Invitational hard, as you knew he would. The Indiana coach took maximum advantage of this annual basketball event, which brings in many of the top players in the nation.

So when IU commitments Yogi Ferrell, Hanner Perea and Jeremy Hollowell went toe-to-toe with powerhouse teams from California and Connecticut on Wednesday at Indianapolis North Central, Crean was there on the front row. Assistant coaches Tim Buckley and Steve McClain also were highly visible spectators.

Crean and his staff weren’t alone in conspicuous observance. High-profile coaches such as Kentucky’s John Calipari, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Duke’s Coach K, Arizona’s Sean Miller, St. John’s Steve Lavin, New Mexico’s Steve Alford and a lot more were on hand to evaluate and, yes, be seen. It’s a big part of the recruiting game, especially since coaches aren’t allowed to contact players during this time.

Crean was there to see more than his three main guys from the Class of 2012. For instance, Collin Hartman scored 22 points to least the Eric Gordon All-Stars over Dream Vision 82-75. Hartman is from Indianapolis Cathedral and is ranked No. 82 in the Class of 2013. He’s also one of two players from that class who have committed to IU. The other is Devin Davis from Warren Central. He’s ranked No. 55.

As far as who else IU is looking at in the classes of 2013 and 2014, there was plenty to choose from.

Point guard options for the 2013 class were Jaylon Brown (he had 11 points in one game) and Demetrius Jackson (he had 21 points in one game), plus small forwards Stephen Domingo (he totaled 31 points in two games) and Brannen Green (more on him in a moment).

The Spiece Indy Heat team had 2014 prospects P.J. Thompson, Trevon Bluiett and Jaquan Lyle. James Blackmon and Trey Lyles also are on that team, but have already committed to IU.


Don’t be surprised if Georgia forward Brannen Greene gets an offer from IU. He looked very good for his Atlanta Celtics team and scored 19 points in an 87-77 victory over Urban DFW Elite.

The 6-7 Greene already has offers from Louisville, Memphis, Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Florida State and Tennessee. He’s getting long looks from Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky and, yes, Indiana.


Indiana Elite/Team Indiana is not the squad everyone expected. Why? Because the team, which was set to be led by five IU committed players, is playing with just three. Center Peter Jurkin is out with a leg injury. Combo guard Ron Patterson bolted after a May Classic defeat and now plays for Indiana Elite One.

That’s part of the reason why Indiana Elite/Team Indiana failed to win a tournament in April and May. Vulnerability seemed to resurface when it blew a big lead and lost to Dream Vision in Wednesday’s opening game of the adidas Invitational. But the team rebounded to handle a strong Connecticut club that included Andre Drummond, the nation’s second-ranked player in the Class of 2012.

Having only three Hoosier commitments doesn’t bother Hanner Perea, in part because he’s one of them.

“I know we won’t be perfect,” he said. “We just need to play through everything. We need to keep playing and keep getting better.”

Teammate Yogi Ferrell ageed.

“Yeah, it’s kind of disappointing (that all five guys aren’t playing), but I wish the best for Ron, and Peter is still hurt and can’t play. I don’t think it will hurt us too much as far as Indiana. We still work with what we have.”

The fact that work comes at an event such as the adidas Invitational, which brings most of the top players and coaches in the country, is an added bonus.

“It’s great,” Ferrell said. “It’s a once in a lifetime thing. You don’t get to play against the top players in the country every day. We’ll take each opportunity and try to make the best of it.”

Because it's playing in a Super Pool with three other strong teams, it will advance to pool play no matter what happens in its final pool game today against Atlanta Celtics 17U.


V.J. Beachem put out the word -- he wants an offer from Indiana.

Beachem is a standout guard on the Eric Gordon All-Star squad that includes a couple of Hoosier commitments in the Class of 2013 in Collin Hartman and Devin Davis. He’s a 6-7 guy who is ranked No. 42 nationally. He’s moved to New Haven High School after his old school, Harding, closed because of budget woes in the school corporation.

Purdue and Butler have offered him. Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan and Michigan State are among the schools recruiting him.

Another Eric Gordon All-Star teammate, Basil Smotherman, has committed to Purdue and is pushing Beachem to choose the Boilers.

Beachem scored 16 points in a victory over New Heights NYC Wednesday. Painter, Crean, Ohio State’s Thad Matta, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Butler’s Brad Stevens watched.


Spiece Indy Heat seemed outgunned. Blackmon Jr. wasn’t there. Neither was Lyles. That meant the team would be without a pair of IU commitments for the Class of 2014.

So what happened? Trevon Bluiett blew up -- in a good way. He had 29 points in a 59-54 victory over Garner Road Elite. He’s good now and certain to get better. Indiana already has offered him a scholarship. Notre Dame is among the other schools recruiting him.

Blackmon was missing because he was attending the funeral of the Hatch family from Fort Wayne. Lyles was at another basketball event.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Is Jurkin The Real Deal, Adidas Invite Battle and Overton Thrives

Are you dying to find out if Peter Jurkin is the real basketball deal, a 6-11 stud center who will help solve Indiana’s inside problems for the foreseeable future?

Well, take a deep breath and be patient. It ain’t happening this week in Indianapolis. In fact, nobody will see him in action the entire month of July.

Why? Because Jurkin is still recovering from the stress fracture in his left leg that cost him much of his high school junior season and all of the spring (except for a brief appearance in the ESPN tourney) and early summer travel ball action.

The official word from Indiana Elite, the team Jurkin plays for, is that while his leg is improving, doctors think “it’s best to continue rehab and prepare for his senior season since he’s already committed.”

Jurkin, by the way, started the Tom Crean recruiting juggernaut last summer when he became the first Class of 2012 player to commit.

It’s hard to know how good Jurkin is. Because of the injury, he’s fallen off the recruiting ranking charts. He plays for United Faith Christian Academy in North Carolina.

Jurkin needs to get bigger and stronger. That much is obvious. He’s listed at around 215 pounds, which is fine if you’re, say, 6-1, but not so fine when you’re pushing 7 feet. But he can jump (when healthy) and with a 7-2 wingspan is an imposing shot blocker.

National recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons, whose All-Star Report recruiting service is based out of North Carolina, has seen Jurkin play.

“He didn’t get to play a lot down here and he’s still somewhat of a mystery player,” Gibbons said. “He has a lot of talent. A lot of upside. He’s long and can block shots. He’s still a work in progress as far as his offensive game. But with his long arms, towering length and excellent wing span, he will be a force in the middle for Indiana. He’ll be an intimidator. When Tom Crean and his staff teach him some low-post scoring skills, he’ll be a real factor.”

Because of all the time Jurkin has missed, it’s possible he might go to prep school for a year and join the Class of 2013. That would free up a 2012 scholarship for Gary Harris or Mitch McGary.

Possible, but not definite. It's part of the intrigue that follows Indiana recruiting.


We’re about to get an idea of how good Hanner Perea and Jeremy Hollowell really are. The Indiana basketball commits for the Class of 2012 will get a chance to play against the nation’s top two players during the adidas Invitational.

Perea and Hollowell also play for Indiana Elite/Team Indiana. It’s in a tourney pool that includes Dream Vision and Connecticut Basketball Club. Dream Vision is led by 6-6 forward Shabazz Muhammad, who is ranked No. 1 by Connecticut is led by 6-9 center Andre Drummond, who is ranked No. 2.

Assuming everybody brings the necessary intensity -- and you’d figure they would considering the national reputation stakes plus the fact a ton of high-profile college coaches are likely to be watching –- it will be perfect preparation for what lies ahead in college.


Have you noticed how well former IU golfer Jeff Overton is playing these days?

He just finished tied for third in the AT&T National in Pennsylvania which was worth $322,400. It was his third top-10 finish of the season.

That means Overton has made $1,039,570 this year, which ranks 51st on the PGA list.

Not to give away our age, but there was a time when that six-month total would have made you the PGA CAREER money record holder.

In six years on the PGA Tour, Overton has made just over $8 million. That just happens to be just over $8 million more than we’ve made on golf, not that we’re bitter.

Anyway, last Sunday’s winnings was his biggest paycheck of the season, topping the $184,000 he won at the Honda Classic and the $169,000 he won at HP Byron Nelson Championship.

Overton tied for 63rd at the U.S. Open and 44th at The Masters. He basically won a combined $47,000 for those two majors.

Oh, Overton is dating a gorgeous opera singer (she went to IU) and made the Ryder Cup team.

Yeah, it’s pretty good being Jeff Overton these days.


Yes, we had a brain dead moment in our previous blog. Stud quarterback Gunner Kiel is from Columbus East and not Columbus North. We have a very good excuse for getting those schools confused. Very, very good. And when we think of it, we’ll let you know.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

IU Football Recruiting – No Superstars? No Problem

By now you’ve probably noticed that IU is not beating out the likes of Ohio State, Alabama and Texas for its football recruiting commitments.

Is this a problem?

Not necessarily.

The Hoosiers have 11 commitments with the latest addition of Indianapolis Cathedral offensive lineman Jacob Bailey in what is basically coach Kevin Wilson’s first class and none of them rock the recruiting world.

No one makes anybody’s top 100 list. Nobody is a four- or five-star prospect.

Bailey, for instance, has no stars next to his name. IU’s recruiting competition was Ball State, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo and other mid-majors. The other Hoosier commitments received similar mid-major offers.

Six of 11 commitments are three-star recruits according to Three are ranked nationally at their positions –- linebacker Nick Mangieri is No. 33, offensive lineman Dan Freeney is No. 44 and wide receiver Kevin Davis is No. 75.

If this were say, Oklahoma, this would be a problem. But Indiana is not going to beat out college football heavyweights for top players unless those players are in state and close by.

Say, like, Columbus East’s Gunner Kiel.

Kiel is a four-star guy being recruited by basically the entire civilized football world. He is 6-4 and 220 pounds. He is rated as the nation’s best quarterback and the No. 19 player overall. He is the younger brother of current IU quarterback Dusty Kiel. He comes from a family of quarterbacks.

Kiel plans to graduate from high school in December so he can enroll in college for the second semester, participate in spring practice and get a huge jump on the 2012 college season.

He says he has no strong preference on an offensive system, although you figure the wishbone would be out. Wilson, with his uptempo attack and reputation for explosive offenses, has a shot. But when the competition includes Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, USC, UCLA and Oregon, well, it’s not going to be easy.

That gets us back to the original question. Does the fact Wilson is not landing superstars, that he’s basically getting the same caliber of guys that Bill Lynch got, pose a problem?

No. First, Lynch did a solid job with recruiting. He upgraded the talent, both with the starters and backups. Maximizing that talent was a problem, especially on defense. Let’s just say what ultimately got Lynch was the quality of some of his assistant coaches. They were all great guys, but some weren’t quite Big Ten ready. Lynch’s loyalty to them cost him.

Anyway, IU has enough talent on its roster to win. The recruits Wilson is bringing in are good enough to win –- not national championships, not Big Ten titles, but enough to win seven games with a few breaks. It’s all about developing players and getting the most out of them.

Oh, yes, finding a quarterback.

Can Wilson do that?

We’ll start finding that out come this fall.


Bobby Capobianco is heading to Valparaiso. He’ll join a team that went 23-12 last season, although he’ll after to redshirt this season because of NCAA transfer rules.

The 6-9 Capobianco averaged 1.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in his two-year IU career. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Not Hoosier Ready -- Nebraska In For Big Ten Battles

Nebraska is officially ready to tear up the Big Ten. Or, perhaps, the Big Ten is ready to tear up the Cornhuskers.

So much to contemplate.

The conference’s newest member is bracing for a new challenge and nothing will ever be the same. Preseason publications suggest Nebraska will rough up its football brethren in its debut season.

Is that true?

Perhaps, but here are a few details.

First, Indiana will NOT play Nebraska this season, which is a good thing from a win-loss standpoint, although a trip to Lincoln would be cool because it’s a great college venue.

The Huskers’ first event as an official member is the football media days/Kickoff Luncheon event in Chicago at the end of the month. Their first athletic event will come on Aug. 19 when they host women’s soccer powerhouse North Carolina. The women’s volleyball team gets its shot when it plays at New Mexico State.

That’s fine, but the debut the nation will be interested in comes Sept. 3 when Nebraska hosts Chattanooga in football and …

Hold on! We got carried away. The debut the nation REALLY wants to see will come on Oct. 1 when the Cornhuskers open Big Ten play at Wisconsin, then follow that the next week with a home game against Ohio State on Oct. 8.

Conference schedulemakers did not do the newcomers any favors.

Nebraska also gets to go to Minnesota, Penn State and Michigan. That’s a lot more travel than it was used to during its Big 12 days. It all will come via air rather than by bus. As a result, the Huskers expect to spend an extra $200,000 per season on travel.

So you know, Nebraska is in the Legends Division along with Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern. It is favored to beat up on those teams (well, maybe not beat up MSU, but still win) and qualify for the first Big Ten football championship game on Dec. 3 at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Huskers figure to have the conference’s best running back (Rex Burkhead), best tight end (Kyler Reed), best defensive lineman (Jared Crick), best linebacker (Lavonte David) and one of the best defensive backs (Alfonzo Dennard).

Crick, David and Dennard are All-America prospects, by the way. The 6-6, 285-pound Crick had 9.5 sacks last year. He is a beast.

Quarterback Taylor Martinez is a strong runner (965 yards, 12 touchdowns last year) and an inconsistent passer (10 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 1,631 yards). That was a big reason why Nebraska was so one dimensional. It ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 in rushing and last in passing.

That has to change, and with a new offensive coordinator, it likely will.

The defense is very, very, very good. It held opponents to 17.4 points last year, and with seven returning starters, it might be better

In fact, Athlon Magazine’s college preview issue rates the Huskers as having the Big Ten’s best defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs.

Coach Bo Pelini is a firery guy, and he boiled over Nebraska’s slow finish (it lost three of its last four games, including a stunning 19-7 bowl upset to a Washington team it had throttled during the regular season). He shook up his staff and has four new assistant coaches, that new offensive coordinator (Tim Beck will run the attack and coach the quarterbacks) and a re-assigned assistant coach.

His defensive coordinator happens to be his brother, Carl.

Overall, there’s plenty of talent returning, and in a recruiting class rated No. 17 in the nation.

Bet the house that Nebraska makes the Big Ten title game. That means IU only has one way to play the Cornhuskers this season -– win the Leaders Division and advance to the championship game.

Yes, we know. Indiana winning a football championship is unlikely. Still, it’s July, the month of football dreams. Go ahead and dream, and don’t let reality start messing things up until September.


To answer a reader question, Van Coleman is very much alive and rating prospects at