A Systematic Recruiting Approach

Bloomington - When it comes to recruiting, new IU basketball coach Tom Crean isn't looking for a perfect '10.' He's looking for a whole lot more. Crean lays out the system he uses to evaluate recruits, and discusses the qualities he's looking for...

BLOOMINGTON – When it comes to recruiting, new IU basketball coach Tom Crean isn't looking for a perfect '10.' He's looking for a whole lot more.

How about a 60?

As Crean and his staff evaluate players for future recruiting classes, there's a method to the madness. The first-year Hoosier coach said he breaks down a player's abilities into 12 categories and assigns them a ranking in each, 1-5. The ideal player at each position, therefore, would earn a 60.

There aren't a whole lot of 60s walking around high school campuses these days, particularly during the spring signing period when most of the top-ranked players have already pledged elsewhere. But it's a way for Crean and his staff to prioritize which recruits to target and which ones to pass on.

"We start with what we think the perfect player is at that position, we'll rank our own players, and we build everything from there in recruiting and keep track of it, computerize it and follow it," Crean said.

Once a player arrives on campus, the IU staff will continue to monitor each players' ranking as a means to determine what areas they've progressed in and which ones continue to need work. They're in the beginning stages of that with the current team, which will wrap up its second week of individual workouts with the new staff this week.

So what is Crean looking for when evaluating recruits? Certainly there's the ability to shoot and rebound and defend, but there's much more that goes into it than what can be seen in a boxscore. Crean said one of the biggest things that he looks for is length, regardless of position.

"We're really, really big into wing span," Crean said. "There's three things we'll measure when they're here – height, weight and wing span. The more you get guys with that plus wing span, the better you're going to be."

Why is wing span so important? It's an attribute that can allow a smaller player to match-up with perhaps a taller opponent on the defensive end, giving them a chance to play a couple of different positions on the floor.

"The No. 1 quality we want is versatility," Crean said. "It's very, very hard to recruit a team of guys that can just play one position and guard one position."

Instead, Crean said he'd like to have a roster where nine or 10 of the players can play multiple positions.

"A team of maybe 75 percent is good number of guys who can do that, maybe more," Crean said.

As he looks for players in this year's class as well as the 2009, 2010 and 2011 classes, Crean will also be looking at the kind of energy a player has on the floor, along with looking at their motor. Those are attributes that can't necessarily be quantified, which is why Crean and his staff put so much into their in-person evaluations at practices and high school or AAU games.

"A guy with a high motor is going to flourish here, a guy without one is not," Crean said.

As he evaluates these characteristics, though, Crean isn't bypassing the ability to knock down shots. While there might soon come a time when the Hoosiers have enough skilled offensive players that they can target someone who's a bit more specialized in other areas, they aren't there right now.

"I don't think you can have too many guys who can shoot it," Crean said. "As we build this team, shooting ability is going to be at a premium. It's not going to be the only thing, and I'm sure someone who has the ability to come into the Big Ten and grab 9, 10, 11 rebounds a game and they aren't making a lot of shots, well, that's another story. But you still have to go to the foul line."

One other thing Crean will be looking for is quality individuals as well.

"The intangible part of it certainly has to be character," Crean said. "How they treat people who can do something for them, how they threat people they don't think can do anything for them. I think that's where it comes out."

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