Bloomington – Indiana is making some progress with Ft. Wayne shooting guard Russell Byrd.
It's gone from not a possibility to some sort of a possibility.
That might seem like incremental progress for Scout.com's 42nd ranked player in 2010, but it's a step forward nonetheless.
It's not that the 6-6, 190-pound Ft. Wayne Blackhawk Christian H.S. standout has anything against the Hoosiers. In fact, there's been plenty he's always liked about the program. But the recent turmoil had him thinking that the situation might not be right for him. With an NCAA investigation, coaching change, and player dismissals dominating the news about IU basketball, Byrd didn't know what to think about what was around the corner in Bloomington.
"When Coach (Kelvin) Sampson left and all the players started getting booted off, I thought I guess that's not the place for me," Byrd said. "It didn't seem like a good situation."
But new coach Tom Crean has reinserted the Hoosiers into Byrd's recruiting equation. He did it when Byrd's high school team was in Bloomington last month for team camp, a visit that gave Byrd a chance to get to know the IU staff and to hear about what direction they want to take the program.
"Being with those guys, I was able to hear about their perspective on things, what their plans are for the next couple of years, how they're going to rearrange the program and bring in quality people," Byrd said. "It was reassuring. They're going from a total debacle to sounding like they know what they're doing."
The team camp visit was Byrd's first opportunity to be around Crean, and there was plenty about the first-year IU coach that impressed Byrd.
"He's a good leader, a great guy and very personable," Byrd said. "It's going to be done his way and if you have a problem with that, it's not his problem, it's your problem. He knows what he wants to do, and I think he's going to do it, and I can tell he's very confident in his plan."
Part of Crean's plan is luring elite prospects such as Byrd to Bloomington. Best known for his shooting skills, Byrd averaged 17 points and eight rebounds as a sophomore. That, combined with his play with the Blessed IJN AAU team, has produced scholarship offers from IU, Michigan, Michigan State, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Louisville, Wake Forest, Iowa and Baylor. He's also been getting interest from Ohio State and Florida.
While all of those programs have been showing plenty of interest, Byrd said Michigan, Michigan State and Kentucky have been coming at him the hardest.
"I probably get a letter in the mail everyday from those three," Byrd said.
Byrd said he likes all three of the coaching staffs at those programs, and in some instances is familiar with either current players or recruits that they've targeted. Indiana might be playing catch up, but there's no doubt Crean is making progress.
"It was good to get down there and meet them," Byrd said. "I think my views of them went up and what I thought went up being able to be down there."
Indiana will have plenty of time to try to convince Byrd that Bloomington is the right place for him. He said he might narrow down his list of schools at the end of the summer, but he doesn't envision making a decision until next summer or fall.
During that time, Byrd figures to watch what unfolds in Bloomington closely.
"I think this year will say a lot about the direction they'll be headed," Byrd said. "They might not have the best players, but what he does with them will be a good test. By the end of this year and the beginning of next, I should have a pretty good idea about the direction they're headed."
Byrd Gets Some Answers About Hoosiers
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