That escalated quickly. Less than 48 hours after an opening-round NIT loss, Indiana University officially announced in a news conference Thursday afternoon its intentions to move forward without head basketball coach Tom Crean.
Here are three points to consider on the state of IU hoops with Crean leaving:
Don’t get your hopes up. Former Butler coach Brad Stevens is most likely not coming back to coach college basketball at Indiana. Although Stevens, among others in the NBA, would obviously be attractive to Indiana athletics director Fred Glass, he’ll have plenty of candidates to fish through in the coming month.Here are a few names that might be on his radar: According to USA Today, , Virginia’s Tony Bennett, UCLA’s Steve Alford, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, Butler’s Chris Holtmann and Dayton’s Archie Miller are names Indiana should consider.
Would Holtmann leave the Bulldogs? Or would Alford home come?
Realistically, barring unexpected transfers, there are four players from this season’s roster who may or may not be back.
Junior guard James Blackmon Jr. and sophomore forwards Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby all likely will test the draft waters, which is perfectly legal now without hiring an agent. Senior forward Collin Hartman is getting married but still has one year of eligibility remaining.
If those four do leave, some giant holes would be left on a Hoosiers’ team that was ranked No. 3 in the country this season before eventually free falling to the NIT. Even with Crean, their careers at Indiana were uncertain. Now that he’s gone, their futures are even more difficult to gauge.
One of the Hoosiers’ top guards in junior Robert Johnson likely will return, as well as talented freshman backcourt members Curtis Jones and Devonte Green. Freshman forward De’Ron Davis showed promise at times this season behind Bryant and could serve as a front court anchor for the future.
Crean had three incoming freshmen ink National Letters of Intent and the program’s new leader will soon have the flexibility of obtaining late high school signees and graduate and underclassmen transfers. The 2017 recruiting class, according to insidethehall.com, is projected to be four to five players deep.
Justin Smith, a 6-foot-7 forward from Illinois, is a four-star recruit according to insidethehall.com. Clifton Moore, a 6-foot-10 big from Pennsylvania, is a three-star recruit with 6-foot-4 guard Al Durham, who is from Georgia.
Smith is the No. 17 power forward in the class, according to 247Sports Composite, while Durham, a lefty, is ranked No. 100 overall. Moore is a top 150 recruit.