Crean: “It’s far beyond anything we could’ve ever drawn up”

When Tom Crean headed into his first season as Indiana basketball coach with just two returning players, he knew he would instantly have to start looking this far down the road. He had to recruit every class intensely from the high school seniors he needed to put his team on the floor to the high school freshmen that wouldn’t be ready until 2012.And that talented 2012 class especially had to be a big one.

But Crean couldn’t have even imagined that he’d be able to sign all five of the players he did Wednesday — Park Tudor point guard Yogi Ferrell, Lawrence Central swingman Jeremy Hollowell, United Faith Christian Academy (N.C.) center Peter Jurkin, La Lumiere power forward Hanner Perea and Broad Ripple shoooting guard Ron Patterson — to complete what Rivals.com is calling the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation.

“It’s far beyond anything we could’ve ever drawn up,” Crean said Thursday in his first opportunity to speak about the class publicly. “We wouldn’t have even have thought to have drawn a wish list like this when we first got here. Well, first off, you don’t know how good everyone’s going to be. But we would’ve never, never thought or have looked at it and said, ‘OK, we’re going to be able to pull this off.’ And we did, and it’s over a period of time, and it says a lot about them.”

Early in his career, Crean faced some criticism for not getting in-state players, especially in the Class of 2010 when he brought in Victor Oladipo from DeMatha Catholic in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. and Will Sheehey from Florida. However, the Class of 2011 brought Austin Etherington and Cody Zeller and this group brings five players with Indiana ties. All five played in the Indiana Elite AAU program. Ferrell, Hollowell and Patterson are all Indianapolis natives. Perea is from Colombia, but plays at La Lumiere in La Porte and Jurkin and Perea both came to the United States through the Bloomington based A-HOPE program that works with basketball players in Africa.

“Early on when we got here, there was always a plan,” Crean said. “I remember it was well-documented. ‘Can they recruit Indiana? When are they going to get an Indiana guy?’ I get it. There was always a plan. There was always a plan for this.”

It helped, Crean said, that the Indiana guys recruited each other. Freshman Austin Etherington signed the summer after Crean’s first season and started spreading the word to all of his fellow in-state players. Jurkin started a bit of a chain reaction when he committed in August of 2010 and Ron Patterson followed, committing at the end of last summer. Hanner Perea, who was close friends with Jurkin, committed in October. Cody Zeller’s signing was perhaps the biggest symbolic victory, and Ferrell committed soon after Zeller in large part because of him. Hollowell took his time, but he was hounded by Patterson and Ferrell respectively and eventually bought in.

“I don’t think you can ever underestimate the Cody situation with him coming in here and all this a year ago that really triggered,” Crean said. “There were some that committed before him and there were definitely some that committed after him, but it was really this groundswell of people that really want to bring Indiana back. I think that’s a huge, huge part of this.”

Crean spoke at length about each player, but pointed out that the group is diverse in its talents, not only because all of the positions are covered.

“It’s a dynamic group, it’s an explosive group, it’s an exciting group,” Crean said. “We are absolutely excited and just blessed to be able to bring people like that into the program on a day-to-day basis. … We had to go get some guys that had a chance to be complete. And I think when it’s all said and done, I would be surprised when this class comes through here if it’s not a really, really compete class.”

There was some concern earlier this year about whether or not IU would be able to bring all five of them in. An investigative piece by ESPN.com pointed out that Perea and Jurkin received benefits from the A-HOPE Foundation that could’ve been considered extra benefits by the NCAA and would call into question their eligibility. Mark Adams, the founder of the A-HOPE Foundation, a coach with the Indiana Elite AAU team and father of Drew Adams, who worked on IU’s staff as a video coordinator and director of operations until this offseason. said when the piece came out that he had discussed the foundation multiple times with IU compliance personnel and the NCAA and was told that the benefits the players received would not be in violation of NCAA rules. Thursday’s press conference was the first time Crean could address that. He said he is not concerned that their eligibility could be in jeopardy.

“We don’t have any concern with anybody right now other than them taking care of what they need to take care of academically and continuing to work,” Crean said. “They’ve all gotta do what they have to do their senior year. We don’t have any reason to believe that anyone’s not on course and schedule to do that.”

Crean was asked specifically if there was a concern that benefits could be an issue.

“No,” Crean said. “Not that’s ever come back to me that makes sense as anything that we should worry about. Absolutely not.”

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 1

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 2

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 3

16 comments

  1. lets just hope this whole a-hope thing doesnt surface again. the ncaa has a funny way of punishing schools for alot less. i love the old jerry tarkanian comment about uk being investigated in the 90’s. he said they will investigate uk and end up putting cleveland state on probation!

  2. If Wilson is half as good a recruiter as Crean is, IU will be in the Rose Bowl in four or five years. The question is, who will turn out to be the more effective coach when they have the talent they need?

  3. Yeah Coach, you thought Guy was eligible last season, so I trust you know what you’re talking about. By the way, whose scholarship are you going to take away to get all 5 of these guys in IU uniforms next season? We can only have 13 and we have 14 players for next season. Which one will be ineligible, Perea or Jurkin? Or both? Numbers just don’t add up. If they are eligible, then who gets theirs taken away? And no, Watford isn’t pro material to leave early, unless he wants to go late in the 2nd round or undrafted.

  4. It amazes me that there are some people here who can still find the negatives in one of the best classes IU has signed in forever. And by amazes, I really mean not surprised whatsoever.

  5. DD, no doubt. What does he need to do to please these delta bravo’s? He takes over a program about to be taken off life support and brings in recruiting classes the equal of Duke and North Carolina and these brainiacs respond with, “Yeah, but…”

    In the words of the immortal Bugs Bunny, “What a bunch of maroons.”

  6. Couldn’t have said it better, Double Down. And, I guess with people who would even insinuate Wilson will or can or should or has even a chance of landing a comparably rated crew just proves the point.

  7. I agree Double Down. People are so negative. They don’t understand how bad things were when Crean was hired. They want instant results. They can’t enjoy anything. When the Hoosiers return to greatness then they will all jump on the wagon.

  8. Fromky, your keyboard has some peanut butter in it as it looks like your CAPS LOCK IS STUCK.

    FWIW, I wasn’t referring to you. 🙂

  9. I had intended to just say some posts on some subjects are just silly but Chet really set a very descriptive pace with “maroons”.

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