Tom Crean has not lost his recruiting touch.
He came from WAY behind to land Class of 2013 top-40 small forward Troy Williams, who committed to the Hoosiers Sunday afternoon.
He beat out North Carolina’s Roy Williams and, to a lesser extent, Kentucky’s John Calipari.
Yes, that’s big time.
Understand, the 6-6 Williams is not, say, the small forward equivalent of Cody Zeller. Williams is very athletic. He’s a strong rebounder, a good scorer with three-point range and a potentially excellent defender. He passes well and has a high motor.
Still, he’s a little fundamentally raw. He’ll need some polishing and developing, which is fine. Crean and his staff excel at that.
Crean delivered a 1-2 punch with Hoosier Hysteria (Williams was there and was VERY impressed) and by watching Williams’ Oak Hill Academy team play in a Thursday scrimmage in Virginia. Crean flew immediately from the Big Ten Media Day event in Chicago to make the scrimmage.
Don’t forget the impact of first-year assistant coach Kenny Johnson, who was hired in part to boost IU’s presence on the East Coast. He has a ton of contacts in the area and is an extremely effective recruiter, which is the No. 1 reason why he was hired. Johnson also was big in the commitment of another member of IU’s Class of 2013, shooting guard Stanford Robinson.
The Hoosiers remain in the running for another Class of 2013 standout -- 6-8, 270-pound center BeeJay Anya from Maryland. He, too, attended Hoosier Hysteria and was very impressed. His final two schools are Indiana and North Carolina State. He’s the No. 4 center and the No. 48 players overall according to Rivals.com.
Indiana now has Robinson, Williams, forwards Devin Davis and Collin Hartman, and center Luke Fischer in the Class of 2013. Adding a sixth player in this class could create another scholarship dilemma even if, as expected, Zeller leaves after this season to enter the NBA draft.
Right now 10 players are set to return next season, nine if Zeller leaves. There is a 13-scholarship limit. With Williams, the Hoosiers are one over. Add Anya and they’d be two over.
In the end, of course, it will work out. It always does.
Do you realize that if IU’s football team wins out, it wins the Leaders Division title, advances to the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis and ignites the sequence that leads to the End of Days mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
Wait! Sorry. Everything is a little fuzzy in the aftermath of the Giants sweeping the Tigers to win the World Series.
Anyway, because the Big Ten stinks, because Penn State and Ohio State are ineligible for the postseason, because Wisconsin might fall apart down the stretch, the Hoosiers have a chance at what would normally be unthinkable.
Wisconsin has a 3-2 conference record. IU is second in the Leaders Division at 1-3. Purdue and Illinois are last at 0-4.
The Hoosiers end with Iowa, Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue. If they sweep they’d finish with a 5-3 Big Ten record. That would mean, at the least, a tie for first in the Leaders Division with Wisconsin. They’d win the Division title by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker.
That’s the possibility. The reality is IU’s best scenario is a 2-2 finish and a 5-7 final record, four more victories that it totaled last year. That could set up a potential winning run starting next season.
Yes, the Cream ‘n Crimson faithful are focused on basketball, and rightfully so. Still, there’s now a reason to pay attention to football in November.
That’s a welcome change.
Look for a ton of dunks and blocked shots from the basketball Hoosiers this season. Why? Because there were a lot of those during Sunday’s Haunted Hall of Hoops scrimmage at Assembly Hall.
Crean loves basketball and, apparently Halloween. So when he arrived at IU he came up with a way to bring both of those loves together. So the Hoosiers host an annual scrimmage that includes a chance for kids to wear costumes, have a Halloween parade at Assembly Hall and then get autographs from the Hoosiers.
The scrimmage was divided into two parts. First was a 15-minute segment with a Red and a White team. The White team won 40-35 with Remy Abell, Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls scoring 10 points each.
The Red team got 14 points from Zeller and 13 from Oladipo.
The second part was a four-minute situational period. Associate head coaches Tim Buckley and Steve McClain adjusted the lineups, then gave the White team a 76-70 lead. The Red squad rallied for an 88-83 win.
Those comebacks typify the tough-minded mindset Hoosier coaches want to build.
“These guys are really competing,” McClain said. “You can tell it matters to them.”