Bloomington – If pressed to choose one or the other, would Tom Crean rather have Cody Zeller or Marshall Plumlee?
In the 6'9" Zeller, Crean sees a homegrown Hoosier who is showing all the signs of following in the footsteps of older brothers Luke and Tyler, both of whom won Mr. Basketball awards while leading Washington (Ind.) High School to state titles. He runs the floor exceptionally well, making him a great fit for a team that wants to play up-tempo.
In the 7'0" Plumlee, Crean sees a hard-working big man who is already a major presence defensively and on the glass. His offensive game made great strides during his recently completed AAU season, and he soaks up instruction and plays so hard that he appears destined for big things at the college level.
"The biggest thing for me has been my jump shot – I'm now getting to a point where I can knock it down," Plumlee said about his offensive game. "I'm knocking it down more consistently and I'm getting stronger."
The duo played together this spring and summer on the Indiana Elite One squad, a team comprised of rising juniors that played up to the 17-and-under age division in most events. That should pay big dividends next summer when the unit's nucleus is expected to return in tact for another run through the age division.
"It was a tough summer and spring – we could have won some more games than we did," Plumlee said. "But over the course of the summer we improved and we hung together."
Crean and the Hoosier staff saw that improvement this month as they followed the team to a handful of AAU events, including stops in Cincinnati, Louisville and most recently Las Vegas. He's also had both Class of 2011 prospects on campus for unofficial visits this summer, and it's no secret that both are very high on Crean's wish list.
But is one higher than the other? Which would Crean rather have?
Truth be told, Crean would be ecstatic to get either one, and will make every effort to have both in an IU uniform in the fall of 2011. While scholarship availability has been an oft-talked about topic with the 2011 class, there's little doubt that if both decided they wanted to come to IU, the Hoosiers would find a way to make it work.
At this point, making sure there's room isn't the Hoosier staff's biggest issue. Instead, it's fending off some of college basketball's biggest names for the two big men. In Zeller's case, North Carolina showed plenty of interest in him this month as Coach Roy Williams was courtside for a handful of his games in July. If the Tar Heels end up offering Cody it will provide an opportunity for him to join older brother Tyler in Chapel Hill.
As for Plumlee, Duke is following the Arden (N.C.) Christ School standout closely. Coach Mike Krzyzewski watched Plumlee multiple times in Las Vegas and could look to make Marshall the third Plumlee to go through the Blue Devil program along with Miles and Mason.
In both cases, Indiana figures to have its work cut out for it if it hopes to keep the third and final member of each family from heading somewhere other than Bloomington to play in college.
But as for which one is coveted more, consider it an Option 1 and 1A when it comes to Zeller and Plumlee. An eventual commitment from either one or both would be great news for Crean and the Hoosiers.
Who's A Bigger Priority - Zeller or Plumlee?
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