Crean: Zeller was priority from the beginning

Tom Crean has been coveting a commitment from Cody Zeller since he got the job as the head coach at Indiana in April of 2008, but thanks to Zeller’s announcement and signed letter of intent, Thursday was the first day he could talk about him.

And as you would expect, he gushed. At a press conference late Thursday afternoon, Crean brought his entire team out to stand behind them so he could thank them for helping in the recruiting effort. He gave a 12-minute opening statement and his praise for Zeller was never-ending.

“As I said to him this afternoon when I got the call right before his announcement, from the moment I got here, Cody Zeller has been a priority to the program,”  Crean said. “Without a doubt. Long before I met him. Long before we got to know the Zeller family. Long before we spent a lot of time recruiting him, there was no question Cody Zeller was going to be a major priority to the program. Two and a half years later, we feel very — and I’ll lead the way with this — extremely humbled to have gotten that phone call today that he is coming in. … Today was a stunning moment, because in this situation, you never allow yourself the luxury of feeling like you’ve got something done. You never let your personal feelings to overtake and become the emotional part of it. You just have to keep working full steam ahead, but it would have been so hard to lose Cody Zeller.”

And it continued.

“When I look at Cody Zeller, I see a great teammate,” Crean said. “I see a young man that’s got mental toughness that’s not normal. I see a young man that’s got an endurance and a will about him that is going to pay dividends at Indiana and for many, many years after that.”

And it continued.

“He’s as good a defensive rebounder as I have ever recruited,” Crean said. “Not just because of his size, but because of his tenaciousness. He has improved his range. He’s improved his skill set. He’s outstanding in the elbow area and the free throw line area. Very good around the post, but what he’s getting more than ever now is that ability to shoot the ball with range. Athletically, he’s skyrocketing.”

Crean also talked at length about Austin Etherington, who signed on Wednesday.

“I remember the first time I saw him play at an open gym workout,” Crean said. “He had been injured his sophomore year. There was no doubt. We saw enough inside of that first workout to go back the next week. From that we got hooked on this young man’s athletic ability, on his ability to shoot the ball. On his ability to build a physical nature even though he wasn’t that physical type of kid. But the thing I love is that he loves basketball. He’s got a high level of athletic upside. … We want to recruit year ’round winners. And certainly, Austin is that way.”

Crean was asked whether this concludes the 2011 recruiting class. He doesn’t have another scholarship available, but by Big Ten rules, he can oversign by one. He said he would simply continue recruiting and looking at players in the class, but did not guarantee if he would or would not add another player.

Eventually, Crean stepped off the podium and talked about Friday’s upcoming opener with Florida Gulf Coast. In terms of updates, he said that junior guard Verdell Jones would be available for the game. He said that fellow junior guard Matt Roth would not be available, most likely for the weekend, but he does expect him back relatively soon. He also said he has no timetable on when Guy-Marc Michel might be made eligible by the NCAA.

Tom Crean discusses the 2011 class

Assistant coach Bennie Seltzer adds his thoughts

Assistant coach Steve McClain adds his thoughts

Assistant coach Tim Buckley says a few words

Tom Crean talks Florida Gulf Coast

13 comments

  1. Congratulations to coach Crean and his staff for their recruiting success. What a great day for the Hoosier nation. We are very fortunate to have a basketball coach who has integrity and believes in our storied program and who is not a sports agent disguised as a basketball coach.

  2. I have been rubbing the Kanter ineligibility in the face of UK fans on their blogs, from both a Husky and a Hoosier perspective. What a joy, especially on a day when IU snags a 5 star in-state commit.

  3. Heeeeey 4guards, Cody Zellar, you know the one that you have went on and on about, you know the one that you believe is the savior of IU bball, you know the recruit that you feel like has such a great understanding of the game and such an incredible bball IQ and for what its worth I too believe he has a good understanding of the game, has just said one of the main reasons he chose IU was because Crean was such a great X’s & O’s coach. Said it at his press conference more than once and said it again when Dakich interviewed him on his radio show. Can’t have it both ways is Cody not the kind of player that you have raved about for so long or is Crean a much better X’s & O’s coach than what you can bring yourself to admit.

    Oh wait a minute, that’s right you are the one and only 4guards, and you CAN have it both ways, as long as it suits your opinion.

  4. I am remembering the countless times that we were told by 4tards

    “Crean is such an idiot…he is in Kansas today, when he should be at Cody’s piano recital”….

    “What a moron…he is in Washington DC, when he should be in Indiana…”

    On and on and on. Endless bashing without the slightest knowledge about what Crean was actually up to and what his thought process was; the whole time judging the man before giving him a chance.

    Low and behold, the entire time Crean was nailing the boards down in the floor and doing everything 4tards assumed he wasn’t.

  5. I’d be willing to bet we lock up a commitment from Yogi Ferrell before the end of the early signing period… That would give us a 2012 class of Perea, Jurkin, Patterson, Ferrell… I’d think that is a top-five class (ESPN #22, 43 54). I also think that Crean might oversign for 2012 if he can get a guy like Harris (#17), for example…

  6. Yogi is a lock. It is just a matter of time, but Zeller sealed the deal.
    It almost seems like you guys expect me to be upset Crean has turned around recruiting. I am thrilled about it. Sorry to disappoint.

  7. Nobody is asking you to be or show disappointment but then again admitting that you were, for the most part, completely wrong about about Crean might be a good place to start. I bet I know what it is, you are probably waiting for some divine sign from your Lobo god before you can act, right? Stevie took over a program that was not in near the shape that IU was and could not recruit OR win on a regular basis. Since he is the one that you seem to compare everyone to, it would seem to a rational person, no wait, scratch that, rational will never be a word used to describe you, that you would have to admit, at least to some degree that you have gotten it all wrong when it comes to our coach.

    You have constantly bashed Crean from the second he arrived at IU and without giving any real thought to the situation that was dropped in his lap. Bash and insult, bash and insult, and you dare to call yourself an IU fan. The state legislaters should pass a state wide law that bars you from ever wearing anything that references IU or from you even telling anyone you are an IU fan.

    Like I said above which is it, is Cody not what you have said he is or is Crean not the coach you claim he is ?

  8. I don’t see what is so hard to understand. Crean failed at recruiting and I bashed him for it, he turned it around and I say he turned it around. Last years class sucked, I was not wrong about that just because he turned it around in 2011.

  9. Last years class “sucked”. That sucking sound we all heard after the Ferris State game was you sucking for air while VO stuffed raw crow down your throat. Get used to the taste because the 2010 class is raising crows for your future consumption. OPEN WIDE.

  10. How can you say they sucked when they haven’t even played a game yet? This is why everyone on here hates you, you are an overly negative MORON!!Some kids are overhyped, some are underrated, you don’t know which is which until the day they walk off of campus for good. Here’s hoping they shove a 55 gallon drum on crow down your throat come graduation day.

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