Indiana Basketball: 5 Biggest Takeaways from Hoosiers' Offseason so Far

Scott Henry@@4QuartersRadioFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2013

Indiana Basketball: 5 Biggest Takeaways from Hoosiers' Offseason so Far

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    With spring workouts in the books, the college basketball offseason is now entering the closest thing to a true state of slumber.

    Aside from the odd transfer, dismissal from school or conference implosion—will the last team out of the Atlantic Sun please turn off the lights?—not much news regarding Indiana's upcoming season should be expected over the summer.

    Thus, it seems like a good time to take stock and examine what IU news the offseason has provided so far.

Oversigning? What Oversigning?

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    Immediately after the season, concerns ran high regarding IU's roster and how Tom Crean would make 16 players fit into 13 scholarships. Fans who fervently hoped Cody Zeller (pictured) and/or Victor Oladipo would resist the call of the NBA draft knew that such a happening would mean some pruning elsewhere.

    Once Zeller and Oladipo declared, the questions turned to potential transfers. Remy Abell and Maurice Creek took the hint and sought greener pastures before April was out. Abell landed at Xavier, while Creek is still a free agent, for lack of a better term.

    Those four defections actually left IU at 12 scholarships, with the 13th soon filled by Arizona State graduate transfer Evan Gordon.

    Expect the O-word to come back into play soon, however. Gordon and Will Sheehey are the Hoosiers' only seniors, and longtime commit James Blackmon Jr. holds down one of the resultant 2014 openings. IU is still in play for a great many touted prospects, with some 20 offers out according to Verbal Commits.

    Players like Austin Etherington and Peter Jurkin should consider this a make-or-break season, because if Crean can add a Dante Exum, JaQuan Lyle or Goodluck Okonoboh, he'll make the deal first and ask questions later.

Top Five Potential

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    The Recruiting Services Consensus Index (RSCI) released its final Class of 2013 rankings at the end of May, and Indiana ran with some fast company.

    The Hoosiers' six-man collection of freshmen was ranked as America's fifth-best recruiting class by RSCI, which tabulates and combines rankings from six different services. Only Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and Memphis had stronger combined classes.

    IU actually led Duke in quantity of top-100 prospects, however. Noah Vonleh (No. 8), Troy Williams (51), Stanford Robinson (61) and Luke Fischer (71) all stood in RSCI's top 100, giving IU four such players to Duke's three.

    IU's past successes with less heralded prospects like Oladipo and Sheehey mean that the unranked Devin Davis and Collin Hartman should not be completely written off either.

    One way or another, the 2013 class may go down as the kind of game-changing group that the 2012 "Movement" was supposed to be.

Raiding North Carolina Is Hard

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    Indiana fell just short at the wire in its recruitment of 2014 wing Theo Pinson (Greensboro, N.C.; pictured).

    Pinson's selection of North Carolina over IU, Georgetown, Louisville and Duke demonstrated that once again, it's hard to get Tar Heel State prospects across the border if UNC and/or Duke beckons.

    Even if the classic rivals aren't in a prospect's mix, it seems that many of the best simply prefer to stay close to home. ESPN's 2014 state rankings show five NC prospects are ranked in the top 60 overall. Of the five, only forward Isaac Copeland of Raleigh has committed outside the state, choosing to become a Hoya.

    Even woebegone Wake Forest has landed a five-star state recruit in point guard Shelton Mitchell of Waxhaw, N.C.

    As if it wasn't clear to Tom Crean before, it must be now: no matter how many banners you've got on the walls of your building and how rabid your fan base is, you'll need a perfect pitch to take a Carolina kid out of Carolina.

Taking the Brand International?

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    Next season's expected leaders will have the chance to get some international seasoning this summer.

    USA Basketball announced the training camp roster for next month's World University Games, and seven Big Ten players received invitations. IU's Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey will be joined by league foes Adreian Payne (Michigan State), Andre Hollins (Minnesota), A.J. Hammons (Purdue) and a pair of Iowa Hawkeyes in Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White.

    Sheehey faces stiff competition for a wing spot, with Syracuse's C.J. Fair, Creighton All-American Doug McDermott, North Carolina's P.J. Hairston and Final Four Most Outstanding Player Luke Hancock of Louisville among the other forwards in camp.

    Ferrell is one of only two underclassmen among the 29 invitees, with Hammons being the other. Yogi may actually stand a better chance of making the team than Sheehey, but he'll still have to beat out veteran playmakers like Duke's Quinn Cook, Stanford's Chasson Randle and the Notre Dame duo of Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins.

    Whether the two Hoosiers make the team or not (rosters will be announced by the end of June), the experience will give Ferrell and Sheehey that much more credibility with their largely new teammates.

Part-Time Rivals?

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    The Big Ten's new schedule for the 2013-14 season raised eyebrows all across the league's footprint when it revealed that one of the conference's most prominent rivalries, Indiana vs. Purdue, would be a one-night-only engagement.

    The Hoosiers and Boilermakers are scheduled to tip off at Mackey Arena, but Indiana athletic director Fred Glass is trying to get creative when it comes to securing a rematch.

    The Indianapolis Star reported on Glass's efforts to set up a meeting with Purdue outside conference play at Assembly Hall, but that possibility may be thwarted by Purdue getting its non-league slate finalized early.

    Of course, it hasn't been that long since the last time IU and Purdue were restricted to one meeting. It's already happened three times this century (2001-02, 2007-08 and 2008-09).

    IU still has several openings on its pre-conference schedule. Currently, the Hoosiers are set to travel to New York for the 2K Sports Classic after hosting a pair of regional games for the same event. There are also meetings with Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic, a Syracuse rematch for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and the end of a three-game series with Evansville.


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