Tom Crean and the Hoosiers have set themselves up nicely for years to come. With the Class of 2016, they welcome in two players who arguably have one and done potential: Deron Davis and Curtis Jones. The fortunate news for Indiana is that they have recruited well and look to return depth that will allow Davis and Jones to learn and develop without having to be thrown right into the fire to start the season.
This was not the system that was in place when other one and done potential players such as Thomas Bryant, James Blackmon, Robert Johnson, Troy Williams and Noah Vonleh were coming to town the past three seasons. All were forced to play over 50% of the available minutes in their first season and started in most games as a freshman.
While this allowed the players to garner national attention and show their NBA potential from the get-go, it was not a great position to have to put a freshman in, but Tom Crean had no choice. He had to play his freshmen a lot because he did not have rotational depth without them. But now, thanks to the system and program he has established at Indiana, Crean now has the choice of how long he would like to play freshmen for.
The situation Davis and Jones will be brought into will be beneficial for both the Hoosiers and the talented pair of freshmen. The players can come into their own through practice and learn from those ahead of them. For Davis, he can take post moves from Thomas Bryant and defensive anticipation from OG Anunoby. Curtis Jones is able to follow in the footsteps of two great shooting guards in Robert Johnson and James Blackmon.
This path will be much more similar to the direction Crean took to developing OG Anunoby last year. He was only thrust into the limelight when injuries forced him to be midway through the season, but by that point he was ready. Hopefully for Hoosier fans Davis and Jones can make the same drastic improvements to their game that Anunoby did, in due time at least.
With Blackmon and Bryant likely to head to the NBA draft after next season, Jones and Davis will be ready to step up and fill their shoes for the Hoosiers come 2017-18. And that will mean that the Class of 2017 can have players who will have the similar luxury of coming in on the same development track as Jones and Davis.
Tom Crean’s system is finally in place. He has balanced out his recruiting classes and has structured the program so that the influx of talent matches what is lost each season, and freshmen will no longer have to log starter-like minutes into the foreseeable future if they are not ready.
Does that mean they aren't allowed to? Absolutely not. If Davis or Jones start multiple games this season, there will be few complaints. If either player is starting, it means that they have developed their games so much that they have the talent to outplay the likes of Robert Johnson, Collin Hartman or OG Anunoby.
And who could complain about having talent like that?