What's Up Next for Eli?

BLOOMINGTON – Tom Crean is in the beginning stages of building a relationship with Eli Holman, and he hopes it will be a lasting one. The IU coach talked about the Hoosiers' freshman center, who is back in town after spending some time back home in California...

BLOOMINGTON – Tom Crean is in the beginning stages of building a relationship with Eli Holman, and he hopes it will be a lasting one.

The 6'9", 210-pound freshman center has returned to Bloomington after spending some time in California to see family and deal with personal matters, and was scheduled to go through his second individual workout with Crean Thursday. While there's still a degree of uncertainty about Holman's future in Bloomington, Crean is looking to build the sort of bond that will help keep the talented big man around for the foreseeable future.

"I feel great with Eli," Crean said Thursday. "I'm looking forward to building a relationship. I think that's what it is with everybody – you have to build a relationship."

Crean is well aware that Holman had a strong relationship with former Coach Kelvin Sampson, and that his abrupt departure in February was difficult for Holman and his teammates to swallow. That's why Holman was among the players who hinted at the possibility of transferring at semester's end.

"Eli has had a lot go on in his life in the last 5 ½ months – a lot," Crean said. "I think what we keep in mind every day as a coaching staff right now, and it's important for the fans to keep in mind. The players have been through a tremendous amount with losing their coach, going through the transition, and then the transition of us coming.

"That's a hard part, a really hard thing. There's a lot of emotion that goes into that…we try to put that in perspective in dealing with the players."

While Crean is being patient with the returning players and they get to know the new staff, he's clearly excited about the possibilities for Holman if he does return. He'd be a redshirt freshman next season and would figure to get major minutes on a frontline that returns only him, DeAndre Thomas and Kyle Taber.

If he leaves he'd be forced to sit out another season as a redshirt, which would mean he'd be missing the majority of a fourth straight season on the hardwood.

"He has a wealth of talent, the size, the length, what he brings to the table excites us a lot, and we don't think he's going to get anything but better," Crean said. "We're trying to make sure he understands how important he is to us, and at the same time what we can bring to him and move forward with him."


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