The Kentucky Wildcats may have knocked the Indiana Hoosiers out of the tournament Friday night, but this year has clearly been a sign of good things to come in Bloomington.
First of all, none of the Hoosiers starters are seniors, so they should definitely improve on their Sweet 16 season. Two starters have the potential to leave early for the draft, but I believe it is unlikely either of them will.
Cody Zeller had a phenomenal freshman year and would probably be a lottery pick in this upcoming draft, but he is from Indiana and played on the same AAU team as many of the Hoosiers’ incoming freshman, so I think he will definitely stay in school for another season.
Christian Watford also has potential to leave early for the NBA. He was great from behind the arc this season, averaging 44.5 percent from three-point range. He also came up clutch many times for the Hoosiers, most notably the game-winning, buzzer-beater three he hit against Kentucky earlier in the season. He is a junior, though, and just got his first taste of tournament action, so I believe he will return for his fourth and final season at Indiana.
In addition to the Hoosiers’ current roster, Tom Crean will be adding his best recruiting class, yet that currently ranks No. 2 by Rivals.com. The reason he has been able to put together such an exceptional class is because of his alliance with the best AAU teams in the state of Indiana, most notably Indiana Elite.
The two best players on Indiana Elite, both committed to IU, are 5-star recruits Yogi Ferrell (point guard) and Hanner Mosquera-Perea (power forward). Both players have exceptional talent and will most likely be inserted into the starting lineup right away. These two should be able to fit in instantly, since they’ve both already played with Cody Zeller before, who also played for Indiana Elite before coming to Bloomington.
The Hoosiers also have three other commitments for next season, the best one being 4-star prospect Jeremy Hollowell. He is a very talented wingman who could turn out to be the best scorer the Hoosiers have on their roster next season. Ron Patterson and Peter Jurkin are the final two members of the Hoosiers' 2012 recruiting class, both of whom are also on the AAU team, Indiana Elite.
Besides next season, Crean is already preparing for down the road with numerous commitments from players who are only juniors and sophomores in high school. He has three players, including Collin Hartman and Devin Davis Jr., committed for his 2013 class, and two players, Trey Lyles and James Blackmon Jr., already committed to his 2014 class. Many people are predicting the 2014 class to turn out to be Crean’s best yet.
Besides the talented recruits, which are clearly necessary to begin an epic dynasty, the Hoosiers also have the fanbase you need to always be successful. No matter what the state of the team is, the Hoosier Faithful always turn out to watch their beloved Hoosiers play. Going back all the way to 1972, the worst attendance the Hoosiers ever had was 16th in the NCAA. Even the last three seasons when the Hoosiers had a record of 28-66, the attendance was always towards the top of the league at 15,810 fans per game.
Tom Crean’s great recruiting combined with one of the best fanbases in the country, should result in an epic dynasty for the Indiana Hoosiers. I expect them to be raising the sixth banner in Bloomington in no time.