BLOOMINGTON -- The public relations blows keep coming for Indiana basketball.
Already long gone from the postseason limelight, the Hoosiers lost out on three-star Kansas forward Marvin Clark, who chose Michigan State. Sophomore swingman Austin Etherington and sophomore forward Jeremy Hollowell will transfer. Sophomore guard Jonny Marlin also will transfer. Freshman Noah Vonleh will pass on his last three years of college eligibility to enter the NBA draft.
That's a lot of action just one day back from spring break.
Add freshman Luke Fischer's December transfer to Marquette and that's four players transferring out of the program this season. Throw in last spring's departures of Maurice Creek to George Washington and Remy Abell to Xavier and that's six transfers in 12 months.
Regardless of whether or not you believe that's addition by subtraction -- losing Fischer certainly wasn't a positive -- that's not good for program stability.
For the record, the combined impact for losing Etherington, Hollowell, Vonleh and Marlin is 22 points and 16.3 rebounds, most of that from Vonleh.
In the big picture, losing these players is less significant than the fact that, no matter who stays or goes, the Hoosiers must be nationally relevant next season, and for about a decade after that.
In the meantime ...
Starters Yogi Ferrell, Stanford Robinson and forward Troy Williams aren't going anywhere. They combined for basically 31 points and 10 rebounds a game. Also set to return are forwards Devin Davis, Hanner Perea and Collin Hartman. They combined for basically another six points and six rebounds.
The 6-6 Etherington is set to graduate in May, which means he would complete his degree in just three years. He'll be eligible to play next season wherever he ends up. Speculation centers on Butler (where his father, Brett, played) and Indiana State (where his younger brother, Alex, plays).
He averaged 2.0 points and 1.6 rebounds this season. He played in 30 games and started six, scoring as many as seven points and grabbing as many as six rebounds.
The plan was for Etherington to replace the strong shooting Matt Roth, but Etherington could never hit the outside shot consistently enough. He shot 25.8 percent from three-point range for his career.
He only played seven games as a true sophomore before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
“Austin told me this past Saturday night that he would like to take advantage of graduating in May and continue to play by relocating to another university,” coach Tom Crean said in a university release. “He is going to be a three-year graduate and wants an opportunity to look for somewhere he can have a larger role. Even though that is his choice, we are going to miss him. He is a fine young man.”
Added Etherington in the release: “I would like to thank Coach Crean and the entire coaching staff for helping me to realize my childhood dream of playing basketball at Indiana and graduating from such a prestigious university. “My experiences on and off the court are memories that I will never forget.
“After talking with my family, I have decided to move forward with the next chapter in my life. After graduating in May, I will pursue other options for my remaining two years of eligibility. I will forever be a Hoosier at heart and will always cherish the memories and friendships I have made at IU. Thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way.”
The 6-8 Hollowell started the season as a starter, but eventually was replaced by freshman Stanford Robinson. Hollowell also was benched for three straight games in early January for unspecified reasons. Crean called it a “focus issue.”
“Jeremy has indicated to us that he would like to transfer to pursue another college opportunity,” Crean said in the release. “We have put a lot of time and effort into Jeremy, both on and off the court, and it is our expectation that he finish strong in school and adhere to team rules. We will be there to provide any help we can give to him to find another program. We hope he realizes his full potential and we believe we did everything over the last two years to help make that happen.”
Hollowell started 14 of IU's first 15 games, then just one more the rest of the season. He averaged 4.2 points and 2.7 rebounds. He had a career high 18 points against Evansville and a career-high10 rebounds against Oakland.
“I have learned a lot from my time at Indiana,” Hollowell said. “My time here has made me much stronger as a person. Things don't always go as planned and I am looking forward to getting a fresh start and I hope to make the most of that opportunity.
“I want to thank Coach Crean for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to play at IU. He has taught me a lot and has always wanted the best for me. I want to thank all the coaches and all the staff for being there for me. I want to thank the fans for their great support and I want to thank my former teammates for taking me under their wing. I want to thank my present teammates and I wish them all the best.”
Marlin gave up a scholarship at IPFW, where he was the starting point guard as a freshman, to walk on at Indiana. After redshirting last season, he played in 18 games this season averaging 0.2 points and 0.1 rebounds.
With Hollowell gone and the 6-10 Vonleh heading to the NBA, Crean is focused on adding frontcourt players. It starts with Temple's 6-9 Anthony Lee, a fifth-year senior transfer. ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman reports Iowa State, Louisville, Ohio State and Notre Dame are his other finalists. IU and Iowa State are the favorites.
As far as high school players, attention is centered on 6-8 Michigan senior forward Yante Maten. The main recruiting competition is Michigan State, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Utah, Colorado, Notre Dame and Purdue. Crean had an in-home visit with Maten Monday night.
IU is well positioned to get Illinois senior forward Josh Cunningham, a 6-7 four-star prospect rated No. 80 nationally in the Class of 2014 by Rivals.com, a national recruiting service. He just helped Morgan Park High School win its second straight Class 3A title.
Iowa State, which is in the Sweet 16, is also the Hoosiers' main rival for Cunningham.
Indiana already has a top-15 class coming in with James Blackmon, Robert Johnson and swingman Max Hoetzel.