Coach Tom Crean's 2011 and 2012 recruiting classes will bring plenty of talent to Bloomington. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Tom Crean hasn't exactly made Indiana basketball fans forget Bob Knight on the court. Since arriving in Bloomington, the coach has compiled a record of 28-66 (8-46 in the Big Ten).
But nobody can question his recruiting skills. Crean brought in the No. 11 class nationally, according to Rivals, in 2009. That class hasn't panned out like Indiana hoped, but good things are on the horizon for the Hoosiers.
"Has it all worked out? No, but that’s recruiting," Bloomington Herald-Times reporter Hugh Kellenberger said. "There were questions about the relationships built in-state around this time last year, mainly because the roster was heavily non-Hoosier and the class of 2010 was not very good in-state. Obviously pulling in Cody Zeller and then the run of 2012 kids has answered any lingering questions."
The biggest name Crean has landed during his time at I.U. is the current Washington (Ind.) high school senior Zeller, a 6'11" center who is the younger brother of North Carolina's Tyler Zeller.
Cody Zeller was a McDonald's All-American ranked in the top 20 in his class by Rivals, Scout and ESPN and has fans excited.
"Essentially, Zeller will be the post presence IU has needed for Crean’s three-year tenure," Adam Johnson of Crimson Quarry said. "The threat of a potential 20 point scorer in the paint is going to force teams to sag off the high sellout perimeter pressure IU has been seeing in the past year."
Johnson admitted, though, that he only expects about eight points a game from Zeller next season.
"He’s not going to take over the team or the basketball game. He’s a 6-foot-10/11 power forward/center that needs to gain strength," Kellenberger said. "Is he going to be a Jared Sullinger-type that takes over the game and the conference? I don’t see that. But I could see him averaging 10 points and six rebounds a game."
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The recruiting class following Zeller's contains a pair of five-star recruits to go with two four-star players. Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell and Hanner Perea lead the class of 2012.
Ferrell, just off a state championship with Park Tudor (Ind.), is a 5'11" point guard who's already pretty polished.
"Yogi is the kind of guy Tom Crean wants running his offense and has coveted. He’s very fast in the open court, sees the floor clearly and can take it from end-to-end for the score," Kellenberger said. "If Indiana really gets out and runs, Ferrell will be the team’s quarterback."
Perea is ranked in the top 10 nationally by most recruiting services. While some question that, Johnson says critics need to see beyond Perea's seemingly mediocre statistics.
"He’s just a specimen of a human being that is going to come right in and be capable of dragging Big Ten big men all over the court," Johnson said. "Jared Sullinger’s advantage this year on offense was his body type. His ability to go through anyone made him a super offense threat. Perea is the defensive side of that coin."
Indianapolis kids Jeremy Hollowell and Ron Patterson, both four-star players, add depth to the 2012 class. But it's not done, yet.
Indiana is still on the short list for Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.) guard Gary Harris, who may be the best of them all despite being only a four-star recruit. Harris is also seeing interest from Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan State, Louisville and Xavier.
With or without Harris, hopes are high in Bloomington.
"Expectations in 2013 should be Final Four or bust, as the talent level is definitely there," Johnson said. "Look to start worrying about IU coming to town in 2012 and by 2013 consider marking it a loss on your preseason predictions."
Read Hugh Kellenberger on Hoosier Scoop at scoop.hoosiershq.com and find Adam Johnson at www.crimsonquarry.com