If you think IU has frontcourt problems this season, just wait. With last week's announcement that freshman forward Daryl Pegram has left the team and decided to transfer to Loyola Marymount (CA), many IU fans look at the roster for next year and envision a frontcourt of George Leach, Mike Roberts, and Sean Kline. While that alone seems precarious at best, it could be worse. Leach still has to be on track to graduate to earn his final year of eligibility.
What about the recruiting class for next year? Well unfortunately there is not much in the form of immediate help. Iowa high schooler Jessan Gray-Ashley is the lone commitment in Mike Davis's third recruiting class. And While Gray-Ashley is 6'9, he has been described as rail thin and is most likely a Pegram-clone. His stats are modest and he will spend most of his early career in the weight room and won't contribute for some time.
It's not like Coach Davis didn't try to lure top talent to Assembly Hall. IU was among the finalists for consensus top five big men Luol Deng and Charlie Villanueva, but as our recent five game losing streak illustrates, sometimes you shoot and miss. It baffles me as to how basketball rabid IU cannot convince top talent around the country to play their collegiate careers in this tradition rich program.
Coach Davis's recruiting pitch should have the prospects chomping at the bit to become Hoosiers. Simply remind them that IU was forty minutes away from a national championship last March. Remind them that in each of the last two NBA drafts IU big men have been selected in the top sixteen (Kirk Haston and Jared Jeffries). How can recruits turn down a great basketball atmosphere, a chance at a national title and a springboard to the NBA? If I'm a talented high school senior I'm picking up the phone and calling Coach Davis instead of waiting for him to contact me.
But never fear help for next year still might be on the way. There's a familiar name to basketball fans that might excite the loyal Hoosier following. High school senior Patrick Ewing Jr., that's right son of sure-fire Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, is set to visit Bloomington in early March and catch the IU-Iowa game.
Ewing Jr. is not the only prospect the IU staff is trying to convince to come to Bloomington. The coaching staff has been hard at work searching for junior college big men who can contribute next year. While names such as Jeff Varem, Michael Bell, and Alexander Johnson might not mean much now, come next season they might. But if Coach Davis and the staff are left out in the cold again, then the 2003-2004 season might be a short one.
A "Little" Foreshadowing?
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