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No Pinson, no problem for Indiana basketball

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Hoosiers have plenty of 2014 prospects

Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 1:23 pm

Is Class of 2014 recruiting life over for Indiana in the aftermath of heralded swingman Theo Pinson's decision to become a North Carolina Tar Heel rather than a Hoosier?

Not even close.

Sure, Pinson is a top-20 player nationally good enough to have narrowed his choices to IU, North Carolina, Duke, Louisville and Georgetown. He might be good enough to have had the same impact Cody Zeller did on the Cream 'n Crimson a few years ago.

That's irrelevant now. He's decided to stay in-state and play for North Carolina coach Roy Williams. He announced his decision on Wednesday.

Coach Tom Crean and his staff always have recruiting options, and they have plenty as they seek to fill out a class that, at the moment, consists just of guard James Blackmon, the Bishop Luers standout set to move to Marion.

So what are those options?

If you like distant recruiting, there's 6-6 guard Dante Exum from Australian. The state of Indiana has a five-star prospect in Evansville guard JaQuan Lyle and Indianapolis forward Trevon Bluiett. Then there's 6-3 guard D'Angelo Russell, 6-5 swingman Brandone Francis, 6-9 shot-blocker Goodluck Okonoboh (yes, his first name is Goodluck), 6-9 center Cliff Alexander, and more.

Exum would be the biggest catch. He's rated No. 18 nationally. He's so good, in fact, he might be a lotter pick in the 2014 NBA if he decides to skip college. He can do that because he's an international player. He visited IU in January for the win over Minnesota.

Crean continues to tap into his Team Takeover AAU connections by recruiting highly regarded guards Dion Wiley and Phil Booth, plus 6-9 forward Obi Enechionyia. That's the same travel team that produced Victor Oladipo and incoming freshman Stanford Robinson.

Most of these players are playing in the prestigious Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.

With the signing period set for November, Crean and his staff have plenty of time to convince players -- no matter where they're from -- of the benefit of wearing candy striped pants.

“We feel very strongly about the state of Indiana," associate head coach Tim Buckley said. "We also feel strongly about the (Midwest), and we've been able to reach out in certain pockets around the country. We're trying to find the best player-student-person available."