Bloomington – As Tom Crean puts the finishing touches on a top-five 2009 recruiting class, he's rapidly turning his attention to some of the top youngsters in the state of Indiana with his future recruiting endeavors.
Last night, Crean and IU Assistant Coach Tim Buckley were at Bloomington H.S. South to not only watch soon-to-be Hoosier Jordan Hulls, but also Hulls' backcourt mate, Spencer Turner. The IU staff members were joined by coaches from Tennessee and Butler who were also watching the 6-3, 180-pound sophomore shooting guard who averaged 9.9 points and shot better than 43 percent from behind the 3-point arc as a freshman.
Turner is already attracting national recruiting attention in the 2011 class. He made an unofficial visit to Purdue in early September, and then took another unofficial this past weekend to Ohio State. The Buckeyes' coaching staff is expected to return the favor either this week or next, as they're slated to come to Bloomington to watch Turner play in open gym.
Turner is planning on spending this weekend on the IU campus for an unofficial and will attend the IU-Michigan State football game, and the following weekend he's slated to take his final unofficial before his high school season starts to Madison, Wis., to see Coach Bo Ryan's Badger program.
"It's awesome to be getting so much interest this early," Turner said. "Not many kids get the chance to go to these schools on full scholarship and play in these arenas holding 15-20,000 every night. It's awesome to get the interest. It's what every kid dreams about."
Turner isn't the only in-state youngster that Crean is taking a look at now that the NCAA's fall contact period is underway. Today, Crean is headed to Indianapolis to watch another elite 2011 in-state guard – Marquis Teague. The 6-1, 165-pound sophomore from Pike H.S. is the fifth-ranked player in the nation in his class according to Scout.com and the No. 2 point guard behind current Hoosier Jeremiah Rivers' younger brother, Austin Rivers, who has already verballed to Florida. Teague will see Crean for a second time this weekend when he makes the trip to Bloomington for an unofficial visit.
Crean is also making in-roads with some of the top high school freshmen as well, players who figure to be among the country's best in the 2012 class. Crean had a pair of the state's top high school freshmen on campus this past weekend in Indianapolis' Kellon Thomas and DeVauntes Smith-Rivera. The 6-2, 200-pound Smith-Rivera attended IU's Elite Camp as well last month, and he is expected to make a big impact immediately on Coach Doug Mitchell's North Central H.S. squad. Thomas, meanwhile, is a 5'9" point guard who will be making his debut this season at Southport H.S.
Another top 2012 recruit – Broad Ripple's Ronald Patterson – had originally intended to be on campus last weekend as well, but had to push his visit back. He could be on hand this weekend along with Turner.
All of these players are just now getting their high school careers underway, but Crean knows he has to make every effort to get on each of their radars as early as possible. The staff is also trying to make up for some missed opportunities this summer, when IU's self-imposed sanctions prevented the staff from seeing as many players as they might have liked during the July evaluation periods.
"Recruiting is getting younger and younger all the time," Crean said.
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