Tom Crean lost a couple of Hargrave Military Academy products in the off-season when Armon Bassett and Jordan Crawford left the program, but he might be adding a couple of new ones in the fall of 2009.
Crean already knows he'll be getting shooting guard Maurice Creek, a top-100 player from the '09 class who is headed to Hargrave this fall after playing at South Kent last season. But he appears to be looking very closely at another standout from Coach Kevin Keatts' program – 6-8, 225-pound forward Chris Braswell.
The former DeMatha H.S. standout had originally verballed to Georgetown and was set to play there beginning this fall. But Braswell instead backed out of the pledge, signed on for a year of post-graduate play at Hargrave, and has reclassified as a 2009 recruit.
Originally ranked as the 58th-best player in the 2008 class, Braswell is close friends with Creek and plays alongside the IU commit on the Triple Threat AAU squad that is competing this week in Las Vegas.
Keatts said he's been getting calls from college coaches who are interested in recruiting Braswell, but at this point most of the calls have been directed to Braswell and his family. But he's not surprised in the interest level, considering how well Braswell performed a year ago in his first season at Hargrave.
On a team that featured 11 Division I recruits, Braswell averaged around 18 points and 11.5 rebounds to help Hargrave go 29-0 and win the national prep school title. Braswell helped secure that championship, blocking a putback attempt by Findlay (Nev.) Prep's Curtis Dennis at the buzzer in a 75-73 win in the tournament final.
"Chris is what I'd consider a skilled power forward," Keatts said. "He can score from the inside, but he has the ability to face you up and score from the outside. He's a very good passer for his size, he had a great basketball IQ, and he rebounds well for his position."
While Braswell has continued to polish his skills on both ends of the floor at Hargrave, Keatts believes the area of his game that has improved the most has been his intensity, which is a by-product of playing on a team loaded with high-major talent. Among the players on Hargrave's squad were Chris Bost (signed with Mississippi State), Damier Pitts (Marshall), Eshaunte Jones (Nebraska), Roscoe Davis (West Virginia) and Eladio Espinosa (South Florida), among others
"He has really learned to compete every day," Keatts said. "DeMatha is a a great program, but a lot of time those kids from high school, they are the best big man there or the best guard. At Hargrave you have to learn to compete every day. That's one thing he's done. He's a little more polished as far as scoring around the basket, but if I were to pick out on area, I'd say learning how to play hard all the time."
Those attributes have caught the attention of Crean, who does have a track record with Keatt's Hargrave players. When Crean took over the Marquette program in 1999-2000, Hargrave product Terry Sanders was a member of Crean's first recruiting class. A 6-8, 225-pound forward, Sanders was a frontcourt reserve for Crean for four years and capped his Marquette career by averaging 6.4 points and 4.6 rebounds as a senior.
It appears Crean is now thinking about another 6-8, 225-pound Hargrave Military Academy product as he looks to build a new foundation in Bloomington.
"Chris can do a lot of things," Keatts said. "He was a huge part of us going undefeated last season, and he'll be a big part of our success this year as well."
Braswell A New Hoosier Priority?
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