Bloomington – In the winter months, Tom Crean generally finds himself in front of tens of thousands of fans as IU's head basketball coach. But late last week, he was one of only a handful of people at a nearby high school gym.
Shortly before taking his team on its road trip to Champaign, Ill., on Saturday, Crean traveled to Muncie to taken in a Muncie Central H.S. basketball practice. While there are a couple of talented youngsters on Muncie Central's roster, the purpose of Crean's trip was undoubtedly to get an in-person look at sophomore point guard Jeremiah Davis.
The 6-2, 180-pound sophomore has already emerged as one of the top in-state recruits in the 2011 class, evidenced by the fact IU, Purdue, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ball State have already offered scholarships. He's averaging 16 points, five rebounds and five assists per game for Central, which is 4-5 in the early going.
It's apparent by the scholarship offer that Indiana has already been impressed by what it's seen from Davis. Crean reiterated his feelings about Davis during a conversation with his prep coach, Matt Fine.
"Coach told me that Coach Crean said I have a good attitude and I'm a good leader," Davis said.
Shortly after the practice Davis called Crean to talk to him further about his trip to Muncie as well as his plans for the IU basketball program. While Indiana is struggling through a tough season this winter, Davis said there's a lot that he likes about what he hears from Crean.
Davis said the two of them have talked about other players that IU's coach would like to bring in, all names that Davis said he'd like to play with at the collegiate level. Crean has also talked about utilizing an up-tempo style that would be a good fit for Davis, whose game has drawn comparisons to NBA star Jason Kidd.
While playing style and potential teammates are things that appeal to Davis, so does the prospects of playing for Crean.
"I like him a lot," said Davis, who is considering an invitation to come down to IU's Jan. 25 game against Minnesota. "He's a really exciting gym, and every time I see him he has high intensity. I think he'd be a really good motivator."
Another thing that's working in the Hoosiers' favor is the fact IU is close to home. While Davis figures to be a national-caliber recruit who could pick and choose where he wants to play his college basketball, staying close to home is something that will weigh into his decision.
"It's a pretty big deal to me that my mom is able to come see me play," Davis said.
Keeping those top in-state players also appears to be an extremely high priority to Crean as well. IU has missed out on some of the top Indiana high school stars in recent years, but Crean hopes to remedy that now that he's heading the program. Landing a player of Davis' caliber would be a big step in that direction.
"Coach Crean is always telling me that with the best in-state players, he needs to keep them in-state," Davis said.
Crean Likes What He Sees in Muncie
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