IU Insider Blog: Kudos to Crean and Co.

In early August, the thought of Indiana basketball eventually having a top-rated recruiting class in 2014 seemed like a pipe dream. Now the Hoosiers are on the verge of that reality. What happened? Tom Crean and his staff are what happened.

It has been a rollercoaster ride for Hoosier Nation since early August.

It was on Aug. 8 that James Blackmon Jr. announced he was de-committing from IU and opening up his recruitment. Earlier, IU's other monster recruit in the class of 2014, Trey Lyles, had done the same thing. Now a once promising class with two of the nation's best players had vanished and IU was beginning again from square one with just over three months until national signing day.

The prospects for putting together a solid class didn't look good for the Hoosiers. It was a long shot that IU was going to be able to attract one really good player in this class this late in the game. Heck, some wondered if IU was going to get any players in this class.

In fact, as late as Sept. 19, things still didn't look. IU had gotten in late on shooting guard Isaiah Whitehead and things looked promising. But then he decided to go to Seton Hall. At that point on Sept. 19, frustration was settling in for IU fans everywhere.

Fast forward 43 days and everything is right in the Indiana basketball world again.

Suddenly, the talk is that IU could end up with one of the top five classes in the country. Robert Johnson got things going with his commitment on Sept. 20 and last week 6-7 Max Hoetzel got on board, too. And then Thursday night, in a move that shocked even the most loyal of Indiana fans, Blackmon Jr. announced on national television that he was recommitting to Indiana basketball.

So what happened? Tom Crean is what happened. Kenny Johnson is what happened. Tim Buckley and Steve McClain are what happened. The Indiana coaching staff didn't panic but rather continued to recruit the way they've always recruited.

If you build it, they will come. And ultimately they came. Now, it won't be official until players sign a national letter of intent on Nov. 13, but it seems pretty safe that IU has these three players in the fold.

But the one thing that is clear is that the Indiana coaching staff deserves the credit. They sold these players on the same ideals they sold Cody Zeller and company on in 2010. That they could come to Indiana and be a part of something special.

Now sure there are some things with Indiana basketball that sell themselves. The fanatical fans that rock Assembly Hall each and every game sells Indiana basketball. The school, the campus, the strong academics all sell Indiana basketball, too.

But it's clear that this coaching staff and the relationships they build have a lot to do with decisions that are made, too. Players have seen the level of success that players have attained at IU and want to be a part of that.

Friday afternoon, Blackmon Jr. gave an exclusive interview to AllHoosiers.com basketball analyst Justin Albers. In that story, Exclusive: Blackmon Jr. opens up on decision, Blackmon Jr. talked about how he actually got closer to the IU coaching staff after he had said he was de-committing.

Thursday was an interesting day for Hoosier fans.

The word started leaking out in the late morning/early afternoon. I was in Chicago for Big Ten Basketball Media Day and heard it in a phone call from Albers.

James Blackmon Jr. was thinking about recommitting to Indiana.

The first reaction of most was disbelief. There was no way. It just didn't happen this way. Name a big time basketball recruit in recent memory who had de-committed from one school and then ultimately ended up back at that school.

I'm sure there are players out there but I can't think of them.

Especially in this case when the other suitors were schools like Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan and Michigan State. It just doesn't happen. The schools like Kentucky always win these races. It's just the way the system always seems to work.

And then Blackmon Jr. went on national television on ESPNU and with IU basketball fans across the country sitting in their living rooms or bars or wherever glued to the TV announced that he was indeed going to play his college basketball for the Hoosiers.

And like I said, all of sudden the skies are bright over the Hoosier basketball program again. It's crazy how quickly things can change in college recruiting. From August gloom to a November boom.

But the point here is make sure you give credit where credit is due. Tom Crean and his staff are the ones responsible for IU basketball fans feeling good again.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch

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