Tom Crean doesn't coach under a rock. The Indiana coach has heard the grumbling about his latest basketball recruiting efforts. He knows Wednesday's signing of Maryland shooting guard Victor Oladipo (Florida small forward David Williams is not expected to sign) does not inspire euphoria in the Cream and Crimson masses.
But Crean also knows that his current six-freshman group is rated a top-15 class. It provides the talent and athleticism to feature a style that will entertain fans, entice recruits and win games.
At least, that's the plan.
So when Purdue signs a top-20 class on Wednesday (more on this in a moment), when Ohio State, Illinois and Michigan State all feature top-10 efforts, Crean doesn't publicly sweat. He has the big picture in mind.
“I'm not worried about our recruiting right now in the sense I want to sign really good players,” he said. “It's not about the early or the late signing period…
“We are in a (performance) hole and we have to prove that we're going to get out of that hole. One of the things we have to prove is that we're going to be a fun, fast-paced, get-after-it, get-up-and-down-the-court team at Indiana. It's important for recruits to be able to watch that.”
The Hoosiers showed a full-throttle style during their exhibition victories Crean hopes to make a staple of his program, starting with Friday night's season opener against Howard.
“When these guys play at that speed, it's showing a sign of things to come,” Crean said. “I want recruits to see that. That's why it's so important to have every game on television and get recruits into the crowd and have kids pick up the paper and see a box score where we got out and played.
“We knew we were recruiting for speed, for versatility, for more athleticism. But if guys aren't smart and tough, you're going to get limited real fast.”
The 6-4 Oladipo fits IU's recruiting needs. He's rated the No. 133 player overall, No. 36 shooting guard by Rivals.com, a national Internet recruiting service.
“We feel Victor will provide athleticism and skill, but most importantly toughness and a will to compete,” Crean said in a university release. “He made a name for himself with his ability to defend other elite players. We feel that defensive mind-set, along with his ever-improving offensive skills, will help him have a very strong career at Indiana.”
Purdue continues to push for championships with a four-player class of Indianapolis North Central guard Terone Johnson, Chicago guard Anthony Johnson, Danville (Ind.) center Travis Carroll and New Albany forward Donnie Hale. The class is rated No. 16 nationally by Rivals.com and No. 20 by ESPN.com.
“It's a great class for our needs,” coach Matt Painter said in a university release. “We were able to add two big guys who are totally different from each other. One is a true post (Carroll), the other (Hale) is a guy who can play inside or out. We also signed two talented guards. Addressing the need to replace (seniors) Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer in our backcourt is a must. We feel we did that by getting two all-around guards who can play both ends of the court.”
Terone Johnson is the highest rated recruit. Rivals.com lists him at No. 46 overall and the No. 12 point guard. Anthony Johnson is the No. 100 recruit by Rivals.com.
The No. 7 Boilers open their season Friday night against Cal State Northridge.