Bloomington – Fourteen scholarship slots down…and more to go?
On Thursday, 6'11", 250-pound center Bawa Muniru verbally committed to Indiana, presumably grabbing the 14th and final available slot for Coach Tom Crean's team. With eight players on the current roster slated to return in 2009-10 and six verbal commits in the current recruiting class, IU doesn't appear to have anything else to work with for 2009.
Or do they?
Despite Muniru's Thursday night commitment, sources indicate IU hasn't closed the book on its 2009 recruiting efforts. That's obvious by the fact that Hargrave Military Academy big man Chris Braswell still made his official visit this weekend along with his prep school teammate and IU commit Maurice Creek.
So what's the strategy? Only Crean and his staff know for sure. But one possibility to consider is Indiana might be thinking about asking a commit to wait until the spring to sign a letter of intent. Actually, if IU adds another commit it would have no choice but to follow that course of action, since the NCAA allows only one "oversign."
As to who that would be is unclear. Either Muniru or Braswell could be a candidate depending on their academic situation. Instead of committing a scholarship to a player who hasn't met the NCAA's initial eligibility requirements, IU might ask someone to shore things up there first before officially signing a letter of intent.
Of course, simply waiting until the spring doesn't rid IU's staff of the problem of getting down to the NCAA's 13-man scholarship limit. While some think that's a suggestion IU won't welcome back a couple of players back from the 2008-09 squad, it's probably more a reflection on the fact that there's roster turnover just about every single year.
In the last six years, IU has had at least 16 players leave prematurely for reasons varying from the NBA to finding an opportunity for more playing time. While seven of those 16 were after the most recent season, IU has had at least two players leave after each of the past four seasons, and at least one scholarship player leave after each of the past eight campaigns. Oddly enough, the last season IU didn't lose a scholarship player was following the 1999-00 campaign, Bob Knight's final year at the helm of the program.
2008 – Armon Bassett, Jordan Crawford, Jamarcus Ellis, Eric Gordon (NBA), Eli Holman, Brandon McGee, DeAndre Thomas
2007 – Ben Allen, Xavier Keeling, Joey Shaw
2006 – Robert Vaden, Cem Dinc
2005 – Pat Ewing, Bracey Wright (NBA)
2004 – Jessan Gray-Ashley
2003 - Daryl Pegram
2002 - Jared Jeffries (NBA)
2001 – Andre Owens
Braswell and Creek weren't the only recruits who were in town this weekend for visits. Among the others we've heard were on campus:
- Bobby Capobianco, 2009 verbal commit – The first player to commit to Crean for IU's 2009 class, the 6-8, 230-pound Loveland, Ohio, made the trip to town and was on hand for the IU-Michigan State football game.
- Jordan Hulls, 2009 verbal commit – It wasn't a very long trip for the Bloomington South point guard, who was also watched by the IU staff a handful of times during the last three weeks during open gym (along with teammate Spencer Turner).
- Ricardo Johnson, 2010 – A new name to surface on IU's list, Johnson is an athletic, 6'5" combo guard from Covington (Ky.) Holmes H.S. who some consider to be the best player in Kentucky's 2010 class. Holmes averaged 11 points and four rebounds as a sophomore, and he plays alongside another talented junior who is getting national recruiting attention – Elijah Pittman.
- Marquis Teague, 2011 – One of the top five players in the Class of 2011 according to Scout.com, Teague is a point guard out of Indianapolis Pike H.S. who appears to be a very high priority for the IU staff. Crean also made the trip to the Indianapolis high school last week to watch him play in open gym.
- Spencer Turner, 2011 – Teague is already a national name in the 2011 class, and this 6'3" shooting guard from Bloomington (Ind.) South H.S. is gaining a national name of his own. Turner has attracted coaches from IU, Purdue, Ohio State, Tennessee, Michigan State, Butler in recent weeks to come see him play, and other Big Ten schools such as Illinois and Wisconsin are also showing interest.
- Ronald Patterson, 2012 – This 6'3" Broad Ripple (Ind.) H.S. freshman shooting guard is an exceptional athlete who played on the Spiece Select 2012 squad and figures to be one of the most sought-after in-state players in his class.
- Brenton and Bryson Scott, 2013 – A talented pair of 6'0" guards from Ft. Wayne, the Scotts are twins who are still a year away from high school. But for those who evaluate players at that age, both have been tabbed as top 20-50 players nationally.