A Different Sort of One-Year Wonder

In a new era of college basketball that's sure to feature a slew of players spending only one year in college before bolting for the NBA, Mike Davis has introduced a different sort of one-year wonder to Bloomington.

In a new era of college basketball that's sure to feature a slew of players spending only one year in college before bolting for the NBA, Mike Davis has introduced a different sort of one-year wonder to Bloomington.

For the second straight year, Davis has addressed a recruiting need by welcoming a senior transfer. A year ago, it was Auburn seniors-to-be Marco Killingsworth and Lewis Monroe, a pair of starters at the SEC school who weren't enamored with the firing of Coach Cliff Ellis, nor the arrival of new head coach Jeff Lebo. This year, it's Utah wingman Richard Chaney, an on-again, off-again starter at the Mountain West Conference school who is IU-bound.

Like Killingsworth and Monroe, the 6-4 Chaney will sit out one year before having one final year of eligibility in 2006-07. Chaney, who averaged 7.6 points and started 48 games in three years at Utah, will take up the 13th and final scholarship for the Hoosiers, one that came available when Pat Ewing, Jr., opted to transfer at the close of last season.

It's nothing new for players to spend just one year at a school before departing, and it's likely to become even more common. But with the newly-unveiled NBA collective bargaining agreement that prevents players from declaring for the NBA until they're one year removed from high school graduation, it was supposed to be prep phenoms who were refining their skills for a year of college before jumping to the professional ranks.

Indiana has turned the one-and-done approach upside down, welcoming a trio of transfers who will spend a year learning the system on the practice floor before playing one final season in an IU uniform.

Whether it's a strategy that will work, only time will tell. But with some of the recent misses on the recruiting front the Hoosiers were becoming increasingly desperate to bring in some talent for the 2006-07 season, and Chaney is certainly seen as someone who can contribute at a couple of positions.

While welcoming players who have already proven themselves at a school like Auburn or Utah erases any doubt about their ability to play at this level, it does raise concerns about how well they'll fit in with an already established rotation, and how they'll react if they either aren't starters or aren't the No. 1 or No. 2 scoring options. On this year's Indiana team, for example, there's no questioning the fact that Mike Davis' team is as talented as any in the Big Ten. The biggest concern is one of team chemistry as seniors Monroe and Killingsworth are expected to step in and possibly start right away, taking minutes and shots from others.

One thing working in the Hoosiers' favor with Chaney, though, is that the IU staff knows his abilities well. Hoosier Assistant Head Coach Kerry Rupp was an assistant coach during Chaney's freshman season and was then the interim head coach during Chaney's sophomore campaign. As a sophomore, Chaney averaged 27.1 minutes and a career-high 9.5 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 49.6 percent from the floor and 41.5 percent from behind the 3-point arc.

A native of Los Angeles, Chaney was always a complementary player at Utah, someone who did a little bit of everything. During his sophomore season he ranked seventh in the Mountain West Conference in blocked shots (0.71/game) during league games and played some of his best basketball when it mattered most. He averaged 12.7 points and 5.0 rebounds during Utah's three-game run through the MWC postseason tourney, earning him All-tourney honors and helping Rupp and the Utes secure an NCAA Tournament bid.

But after starting 10 of Utah's first 11 games a year ago, Chaney broke his left hand in practice and saw his playing time plummet. After he returned he averaged just 5.1 points over the final 17 games and had lost his starting job to Bryant Markson.

Markson will be back in Utah this fall, leaving Chaney on the outside looking in for a starting role for Coach Ray Giacoletti's squad. That prompted the Verbum Dei H.S. graduate to look elsewhere for an opportunity to play, and he found it in Bloomington.

That opportunity, though, won't come without plenty of competition. When Chaney is eligible to play for the Hoosiers, he's expected to be in a mix of players along with Joey Shaw, Robert Vaden, Rod Wilmont and A.J. Ratliff who will be vying for minutes and shots in the Hoosier offense. So how good the group can be?

There's one year to wonder, and then another to find out.

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