INDIANAPOLIS – The recruiting straight jacket that Tom Crean inherited from Kelvin Sampson has been removed for the time being.
On Friday, IU officials eased the sanctions they imposed on the IU basketball program in October due a series of rules violations committed by Sampson's staff. As a result, Crean is now allowed to go on the road recruiting for 10 days between now and the end of July.
Crean wasted little time taking advantage of his newfound freedom, traveling to Indianapolis Saturday to watch more than 100 of the state's best preps competing at the Top 100 Basketball Showcase at Ben Davis H.S. From there, Crean was set to drive to Akron, Ohio, for the second day of competition at the King James AAU event.
"I'm going to try to make the most of this day up to midnight," Crean said.
Crean said he'll likely go on the road recruiting for another day or two early next week, and then save the remainder for July. That still leaves plenty of days unaccounted for, but Crean is just glad he no longer has to wait until Aug. 1 to take a more hands-on approach to his staff's recruiting efforts.
"I'm just excited to have anything," Crean said. "When you start breaking down, the month of April and the month of July, there are still a lot of other days in there. We'll have to work really smart, and this is where it's so important to have assistant coaches on your staff that know what you're looking for and kind of have the same eyes."
While Crean has been on the recruiting sidelines, he's relied on recently named IU assistant coaches Tim Buckley and Bennie Seltzer to handle all of the off-campus recruiting duties. From in-home visits to AAU tournament stops, it's been Buckley and Seltzer who have been the face of the program on the road.
Both will continue to scout talent around the country, but Crean will now be in the mix as well. Crean says it's important that coaches and recruits start seeing him at these events, and his presence was very obvious on Satuday at Ben Davis H.S. Crean was there from the event's start, taking a prominent seat in the front row of the center court alongside Buckley.
"I think it's really important that Indiana has a presence where they're seeing me," Crean said. "For this to work out at this point, for me to be able to represent Indiana and be here today, it couldn't have worked out better for me."
But Crean's presence isn't just about being seen. He said it's also important that he be able to start looking at prospects in person instead of only on tape, and On Saturday Crean had a chance to see the likes of Derek Elston, Dominique Ferguson, Travis Carroll, Colt Ryan, Donnie Hale and Patrick Bade, among others.
"It's very important to me that I see them, because we need to evaluate, for me eye ball to eye ball, that in person evaluation," Crean said.
For his first three weeks on the job, Crean has been studying recruits in his office, watching hours and hours of video highlights. While that's been helpful in getting him up to speed on some of the top prospects in Indiana, having some days like Saturday are more valuable.
I like to see what I see, I like to see what the numbers say, I like to see what other people say that I have respect for, and then you put that all together," Crean said. "This is the first time I've been able to see what I see."
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