Is the state of Indiana’s high school basketball talent finally slipping?
It depends on your perspective.
The Class of 2013 only has five Indiana players listed in Rivals.com’s updated top 150 rankings.
The highest rated is Fort Wayne Northrop’s Bryson Scott, who is at No. 60 and committed to Purdue. Hamilton Southeastern’s Zak Irvin is next at No. 68. He’s heading to Michigan.
Mishawaka’s Demetrius Jackson is at No. 70 and is uncommitted. New Haven’s V.J. Beachem is at No. 87. He’s going to Notre Dame. Finally, Indianapolis Warren Central’s Devin Davis is at No. 99. He’s committed to Indiana.
That’s a big drop considering the Class of 2012 had nine Indiana players in the top 96, with the best being No. 11 Glenn Robinson. IU’s Yogi Ferrell was No. 19.
The Class of 2011 had four players in the top 55, including No. 5 Marquis Teague and No. 15 Cody Zeller.
That's a lot of basketball firepower for a state with a relatively small population base.
Talent follows cycles and not every year produces superstars. The state of Indiana remains high on college coaches’ recruiting lists because it produces players who are talented and basketball savy. That’s a credit to the quality of the high school and AAU coaching, as well as the commitment of the players.
The talent has been strong for at least the last decade, and shows no signs of slowing down. Consider Eron Gordon, who is about to be a freshman at Indianapolis North Central. He’s the brother of former Hoosier standout and current NBA player Eric Gordon. He will rate among the nation’s best in the Class of 2016.
Yes, the state’s Class of 2013 might not be loaded with future pros, but you can bet it will produce plenty of major college contributors.
In case you’re wondering, the No. 1 player in the class is Chicago forward Jabari Parker, who previously made Sports Illustrated cover. Moving up fast behind him are Texas forward Julius Randle and Texas guard Andrew Harrison.
Students love the basketball Hoosiers, and they’re willing to pay for it.
Yes, that’s important, especially in these economically challenged times.
Students are so pumped about next season (IU is the preseason No. 1 team) that they’ve already bought up 9,400 season tickets. That’s a problem because Indiana only has slotted 7,800 for students at 17,000-plus Assembly Hall.
IU has always recognized the importance of students at games, which is why it historically has the nation’s largest student section. Hoosier students don’t all sit together near the court, as they do at, say, Michigan State’s Breslin Center, but they make an impact.
See IU over Kentucky last December as Exhibit A through Z.
By comparison, Purdue has 5,152 student season tickets. North Carolina has 6,000. Kentucky has 4,500. Michigan State has 3,100 in its Izzone. Duke, known for its Cameron Crazies, has just 1,200.
“Following the team’s incredible performance this past season (a Sweet 16 showing), I am thrilled to see student ticket demand returning to the same levels I experienced when I was a student at IU,” athletic director Fred Glass said in a university release.
“There is not a more exciting place to watch college basketball than Assembly Hall, and it is IU students that create our home court environment that is unmatched anywhere in the country.
“Indiana basketball is an important part of the IU college experience, and we want as many students as possible to have a chance to experience it live in Assembly Hall.”
Three and a half years ago, Indiana sold 4,800 student season tickets of its 7,800 allotment. That was for the 6-25 mess that was Crean’s debut in the wake of Kelvin Sampson’s scandal-ridden two-year run.
IU officials expect to break the 10,000 student season ticket barrier soon. They’ve set a ceiling of 12,400 and will ration the games so each student will see at least 10 of the 16 home games played while school is going on.
Some students, of course, will be ticked that they’ll miss the North Carolina home game as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, or some other big home game against Purdue or Ohio State or Michigan State.
That’s a nice problem to have. One of Crean’s goals when he took the job in the spring of 2008 was to make an IU home game ticket one of college sports hottest items.
Looks like he’s succeeded.
“Our student fan base is the best in the country,” Crean said in the release. “Our fans and former players are a big reason why the program is where it is today.”
Distance stud Andy Bayer had a heck of a last month. He won a Big Ten championship, a NCAA title and finished fourth in the Olympic Trials, all in the 1,500 meters. Along the way (11 total races in that span) he ran the second-fastest 1,500 in school history (3:37.24), tying three-time Olympian Jim Spivey.
The Trials were a disappointment only in the fact the top three 1,500 finishers advanced to the London Olympics. So Bayer will have to wait four years to try again.
But that’s for the future. Coming up this weekend for Bayer is the NACAC U-23 Championships in Guanajuato, Mexico. And he has one more year of college eligibility.
Now, he could skip that year and turn pro, but he told the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel he won’t do that.
In the Trials, Bayer finished behind Leonel Manzano, Matthew Centrowitz and Andrew Wheating. In all, Bayer finished ahead of eight of the 11 professional runners in the 12-man field.
Technically, Bayer is the Olympic alternate if something happens to one of the top three. But first he has to make the Olympic qualifying time of 3:35.50.
If you want to understand how far IU has come in compliance in the last couple of years, consider the resume of senior associate athletic director Julie Cromer. She oversees compliance and makes sure Indiana complies with all NCAA, Big Ten and school rules, regulations, policies and procedures. She also serves as the department’s liaison for the Big Ten and NCAA, and oversees the department’s gender equity plan.
She’s done all that, and more, for the last three years, and she’s done it well enough to recive the National Association for Athletics Compliance’s Frank Kara Leadership Award. It’s the NAAC’s premier award and recognizes Cromer’s leadership and vision in compliance.
Yes, athletic director Fred Glass has noticed.
“Julie Cromer is a tremendous leader who is widely acknowledged to be one of the foremost experts on compliance issues in the country,” Glass said in a university release. “We are thrilled that the National Association for Athletics Compliance gave her this prestigious honor.”