Today we’re going to solve the mystery of what Indiana will do with 14 basketball players and 13 scholarships.
To do so means going where the truth lies, but because the truth is often obscured by spin and mystery, we have turned to the one person who knows all the secrets of IU sports. Because of the delicate nature of this person’s position, we can’t reveal a name, an age or even a gender. So we will use an alias:
This person has an office deep in the basement of Wells Library. The office has a bare metal desk, two metal chairs and black-and-white photos of Bobby Petrino riding a motorcycle and Ozzie Guillen giving an apology hanging from walls as red as an IU championship banner. A small refrigerator hums next to the desk. In the background, the voice of Jack Nicholson repeats his climactic speech from “A Few Good Men.”
“The truth! You can’t handle the truth!”
Hoosier Dude is wearing a Justin Bieber mask. The truth, it seems, comes disguised.
And so it begins.
Q: “How is Tom Crean going to solve this scholarship crunch?”
Hoosier Dude: “You worry too much. It will get resolved.”
Q: “That’s not answering the question.” (We put a $20 bill on the desk. Hoosier Dude strums the desk top like a piano. We put two more $20s on the table. The truth, it seems, comes with a cost).
Hoosier Dude: “In an ideal world, somebody will transfer. It could be because he won’t play much next season, because he misses his girlfriend, or because Bloomington continues to fight the extension of I-69 through the area, and he can’t take it any more.
“But don’t count on it. The lure of playing for a national championship team is strong, strong enough to overcome the desire for lots of playing time.”
Q: “That leaves somebody giving up a scholarship or one of the freshman not coming to IU after all. Which will it be?”
Hoosier Dude: “Do you really think Tom Crean will meet with his returning players and ask one of them to give up a scholarship?”
Q: “You’re supposed to give answers, not ask questions.” (Hoosier Dude takes out a chocolate chip cookie from the desk and begins nibbling. He doesn’t offer one to us. Yes, we are hurt).
Hoosier Dude: “Why would a player, and more specifically the family of a returning player, voluntarily give up a scholarship? Maybe that happens if one of the players is related to Bill Gates, but that’s not the case. Would you pay $15,000 when you don’t have to?”
Q: “You keep asking us questions. We’re here for answers.” (Hoosier Dude reaches into the refrigerator, pulls out a light beer, and washes down the rest of the chocolate cookie. We wonder what the gastronomical consequences of that will be. We hope we aren’t here long enough to find out).
Hoosier Dude: “Kentucky just won the national title basically playing six guys, although two others saw action. IU consistently played 10 guys, which is a lot. The others guys barely played.
“Figure next year will be the same thing. There’s only one ball and so many minutes. That means four guys aren’t gonna play. So, really, Crean would be asking a scholarship guy, maybe even a starter, to give up that scholarship so somebody else can sit the bench for free.
“Are you nuts?”
Q: “So what does that leave?”
Hoosier Dude: “Follow the money.”
Hoosier Dude: “Follow the money.”
Q: “We’ve heard that before. Are you … ”
Hoosier Dude: “Prep school. One of the freshmen will go to prep school for a year. It’s the only fair thing to do. The guy least likely to play, least likely to contribute.
“You know Yogi Ferrell is playing. The same with Jeremy Hollowell. Those are the best two guys in the class. Ferrell, who is ranked No. 19 nationally by Rivals.com, is one of the top prep point guards in America. Hollowell is improving by the minute. He’s up seven spots to No. 41 nationally.
“Hanner Perea’s stock is dropping. He’s down to No. 43 nationally. He was No. 16. He’s gone from a 5-star player to a 4. The last couple of times I’ve seen him, he hasn’t done much. Don’t know if he’s hurt or just slacking off, but he needs some intense coaching. He’ll get that from Crean. He’ll also play.
“Ron Patterson is a shooting guard who can’t shoot, but he’s strong and athletic and has a great motor. If he follows Victor Oladipo’s example and lives in Cook Hall, he can get that jumper to fall. Even if it doesn’t, he can defend and rebound. He can provide depth.
“That leaves Peter Jurkin. He’s this class’s mystery man. He’s listed at 6-11 and 215 pounds, which is thin for that height. He’s been hurt for much of his high school career. He was raw before he was hurt, and that’s hurt his development. He’s not ranked, and there’s a reason for that.
“People talk about him taking Tom Pritchard’s role as Cody Zeller’s backup, but Pritchard was a strong, experienced senior. Jurkin is none of that. How much is he really gonna help? Ideally you’d like him to be able to run, defend, rebound and score some garbage points. Can he do that? Don’t know. Is IU’s program at the point where it needs to give a scholarship to a guy like that for this year? A cynic might wonder if he’s another Bawa Muniru.”
Q: “What do you wonder?
Hoosier Dude: “If I were a betting man, I’d say he goes to prep school for a year, works on getting stronger and developing his game. Purdue did that with Donnie Hale, the kid from New Albany. He spent a year at prep school, then redshirted. He’ll be 21 years old before he plays his first college game. That’s what Jurkin and IU should do. Will they? Don’t know. I have no say. I’m just a pawn in the game of life.”
(Hoosier Dude finishes his beer and gestures it’s time for us to leave)
Q: “You aren’t related to Hoosier Deep Throat, are you?”
Hoosier Dude: “You ask too many questions.”