Indiana Hoosiers: Why Breaking Top 25 Is Just the Beginning for New Hoops Era

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIIDecember 12, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, IN - DECEMBER 10:  Tom Crean the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers is congratulated after Indiana beat the Kentucky Wildcats 73-72 in the game at Assembly Hall on December 10, 2011 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

For the first time since the 17th week in the 2007-08 season, the Indiana Hoosiers are ranked in the Top 25. The Hoosiers came in at No. 18 in the AP Poll and No. 20 in the Coaches Poll after beating the previously No. 1-ranked Kentucky 73-72 in Assembly Hall on Saturday evening.

The Hoosiers are off to an 9-0 start for the first time since the 1989-1990 season, and are considered a year early to the party after this quick start. Many considered this to be what the Hoosiers team next year would look like with the No. 1 recruiting class coming in.

With this unexpected great start, and the No. 1 recruiting class coming in next season, the Hoosiers have the look of a dynasty being built by Tom Crean right now.

That’s a far cry from the 28-66 combined record for coach Crean in his first three seasons at the helm.

The Hoosiers are only set to lose three scholarship players next year, with only one that gets a considerable amount of playing time—senior Verdell Jones III. Jones III averages just under 10 points per game and is the starting shooting guard.

Even losing Jones III, the Hoosiers won’t be at a loss of much. Jones III is not looked upon to take on the scoring load anymore, and the Hoosiers will actually be upgrading in the coming years.

Also leaving Indiana next year due to graduation are Tom Pritchard and Daniel Moore. With Jones III, these three have put in much effort to turn this program around. But lets face it—they weren’t Big 10-caliber basketball players.

Next year’s highly touted recruiting class brings in 5'11" point guard Yogi Ferrell (Indianapolis), 6'3" shooting guard Ron Patterson (Indianapolis), 6'7" shooting guard Jeremy Hollowell (Indianapolis), 6'8" power forward Hanner Perera (LaPorte, Indiana) and 6'11" center Peter Jurkin (North Carolina).

Ferrell is ranked fourth, Perea seventh, Hollowell 11th and Patterson 27th for their respective positions nationally.

With only the loss of Jones III in the starting lineup, Ferrell can assume the point guard role and move Jordan Hulls over to shooting guard. Add that to a front line of sophomore Cody Zeller, junior Victor Oladipo and senior Christian Watford, and Indiana has a very solid lineup.

Mix these five with junior Will Sheehey and Perea, senior Derek Elston, Hollowell and Patterson, sophomore Austin Ethrington and Jurkin, senior Matt Roth and sophomore Remy Abell, and they have a very solid lineup with a starting five that can come off the bench.

That's not even mentioning if junior guard Maurice Creek can be healthy enough to come back.

Next year's team will definitely have national championship hopes in their sights.

If you want to look at the year after next in the 2013-14 season, you'd only be losing Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford, Derek Elston and Matt Roth from the previous year's team. The Hoosiers are going to be adding two guys from the current junior class of 6'6" forwards Colin Hartman and Devin Davis.

Both juniors are ranked in the top 100 nationally, and both are from Indianapolis.

The Hoosiers in 2013-14 will be just as deep as the previous two years and will have just as much talent.

If you want to project out to the following year in 2014-15, the Hoosiers already have two in-state commitments from 6'8" power forward Trey Lyles and 6'2" shooting guard James Blackmon.

Both are ranked in the top 100 nationally, with Lyles ranked 18th.

Imagine a front line of 6'11" Zeller, 6'8" Perea and 6'8" Lyles. Add a backcourt of Ferrell and most probably 6'7" Hollowell, and they have NBA-ready height and talent.

That's as far out as I'm going to project, but with projecting these next four years counting this one, it looks to be a bright future in Bloomington, Indiana.

Every guy coach Crean is bringing in is a system player and not someone that's trying to go to the NBA as a one-and-done. These guys are all potential four-year players. If so, this is a dynasty that could, dare I say, be better than those glory days of the early 1990s.

With all this being said, this may be the first time the Hoosiers have broke the Top 25, but they could be there to stay for at least the next four years.

All I can say is buckle up, Hoosier fans, because these next four years are about to be the best we've seen in quite some time.