Column: The Curious Case of the 2014 Class

The top five players in Indiana have all decommitted from their original schools. And yet, IU is expected to recruit the state. And is criticized when it doesn't.

Trey Lyles. James Blackmon Jr. JaQuan Lyle. Bryant McIntosh. Trevon Bluiett.

What do those five names have in common? They are all highly-touted 2014 recruiting prospects from Indiana, and they have all decommitted from their original school.

Lyles, the top-ranked power forward in the class, committed to Indiana on Sept. 26, 2010. He decommitted on Aug. 7, 2012.

Blackmon Jr., the 10th-ranked shooting guard, committed to the Hoosiers on Sept. 7, 2010 and decommitted on Aug. 8, 2013.

Lyle, the third-ranked point guard in the class, gave a verbal pledge to Louisville on June 26 and pulled it back on Sept. 14.

McIntosh, the 30th-ranked shooting guard in the class, committed to Indiana State on Jan. 8 and decommitted in July. He's now committed to Northwestern.

And Bluiett, the 12th-ranked small forward, committed to UCLA on Sept. 2 and decommitted on Oct. 3.

It's become one of the more unusual and frustrating things in modern basketball recruiting. A commitment from these 2014 Indiana kids has meant little more than saying, "You're my favorite school today."

It's been especially frustrating for IU, which recruited all five kids at one time or another. Tom Crean and Co. had Lyles and Blackmon Jr. on board for years, and lost both of them.

IU is expected to recruit the state, and recruit it hard. There's plenty of talent right here at home, and it's always ideal to have at least some Indiana kids on the roster. Crean has tried to make that a priority ever since he arrived in Bloomington in 2008.

But what could the Indiana coaching staff possibly have done to keep Lyles and Blackmon Jr. from decommitting? What could they have done to get these indecisive high school kids to honor their commitments?

The answer is simple: They couldn't have done anything. And yet, you scour message boards on this site and others, and the Hoosiers are being crushed for "missing out" on the state's top prospects.

Let's consider the position Lyles and Blackmon Jr. specifically put the Hoosiers in. Until the 2012 summer, Crean had a top-ten class in place for 2014. He had one of the nation's top power forwards and shooting guards, so he didn't need to spend time looking for others at those positions in this class.

Lyles decommitted early enough to get in on some prospects, but not all. Elite prospects like to be recruited for an extended period of time, and they would have already been entering their junior years by the time Lyles decommitted.

Blackmon Jr. put Indiana in an even worse situation. He waited until after the July evaluation period to decommit. Indiana could have recruited a number of other guards throughout the summer had he done so early. But he made his decision at the worst possible time for the Hoosiers and left them in an impossible situation.

I don't think what's happened with this 2014 class will become a trend going forward, but the point is it's unfair to hold IU to regularly recruiting the state when stuff like this happens. IU has had a lot of success on the East Coast ever since Kenny Johnson arrived on campus, and they should continue to recruit that area.

It's somewhat sad to think the number of in-state kids on the IU roster may decrease in the future, but it continues to become a more realistic possibility. If the 2014 class is a sign of things to come, there's not much IU can do about it.


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