DECKER: Is Irving Priority No. 1 for Indiana?

Bloomington – You've heard all of the names. There's Marquis Teague and DeJuan Marrero. Cody Zeller and Marshall Plumlee. There's Branden Dawson and Brad Beal and Ron Patterson and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. There's 2010, 2011, 2012 and even 2013 to think and know about. But what about sorting it out?

Bloomington – You've heard all of the names.

There's Marquis Teague and DeJuan Marrero. Cody Zeller and Marshall Plumlee. There's Branden Dawson and Brad Beal and Ron Patterson and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera.

There's 2010, 2011, 2012 and even 2013 to think and know about.

But what about sorting it out?

With so many names to kick around and so many years to worry about, what is the No. 1 priority when it comes to IU basketball recruiting?

Leave it to me to have a theory.

If you ask me, Tom Crean's No. 1 priority for any player, in any class, is securing a signed letter of intent from Kyrie Irving in November.

Some will dispute such a suggestion (who knows…maybe Crean will as well!) Some would argue that landing Teague, a top-10 Class of 2011 prospect who hails from the state of Indiana would be a much more important accomplishment than venturing out East to lure Irving to Bloomington.

But I'm sticking with the 6'1", 165-pound McDonald's All-American-to-be from St. Patrick's H.S. in Elizabeth, N.J.

Why Irving? First of all, there's that lofty No. 7 national ranking according to Scout.com, a ranking that comes courtesy his exceptional playmaking abilities from the point guard position. He can create for others, he can finish around the rim, and he can score points in bunches from the perimeter. On top of that, there's also the potential impact it could have on the No. 1 player in the 2011 class, high school teammate Michael Gilchrist.

But more than anything, I think it's the fact that he's a big-time, immediate impact 2010 recruit, and that's something Indiana needs to get in the yet-to-be-assembled recruiting class. On the heels of a top-five Class of 2009 and preceding 2011 and 2012 classes where Indiana is well positioned with a slew of high-quality recruits, attracting an impact player for 2010 is of the utmost importance for Crean and his staff.

Look, for instance, at Teague. While he's likely on Crean's mind 23 ½ hours per day, Indiana already has a commitment from Matt Carlino, a player who's presumably destined to play point guard at the next level as well. There are also other options to turn to if things don't work out with Teague (i.e. Princeton's Jalen Packer), and the loss of Teague becomes even less of an issue if IU gets Irving a year earlier.

Cody Zeller is another player who is a very high priority for the IU staff, but if they miss on him in the 2011 class they're also well positioned with his AAU teammate Marshall Plumlee. In 2012, the Hoosiers' staff would love to get Patterson and Smith-Rivera, but one of them plus a Jeremy Hollowell is a pretty nice combination as well.

However things play out in 2011 and 2012, Indiana appears to be on very solid footing with a lot of players that could come together in a variety of combinations to form top-10 caliber recruiting classes. There probably isn't a make-or-break recruit in the bunch in those two classes based on the quantity and quality of options Crean and staff will likely have.

But before they get to 2011 or 2012, there's 2010 to take care of. For IU to be able to say mission accomplished for the rising seniors, it's going to require an immediate impact recruit to say yes to the Hoosiers.

And that makes Kyrie Irving the most recruit on Indiana's board.


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