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.

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