BLOOMINGTON – The silver lining in Indiana's basketball March to forget is extra recruiting time for coach Tom Crean and his staff.
They are taking full advantage.
They blitzed high school state tourneys in Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky and Illinois over the last few days, but the pursuit that could produce the biggest immediate impact involves Temple senior Anthony Lee. The 6-9 power forward and double-double threat (he had 11 this season, one more than Hoosier freshman Noah Vonleh) is in one-and-done fifth-year transfer mode, as Evan Gordon was this season. He would be eligible immediately.
Lee averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds this season. He played against the Hoosiers in last year's NCAA tourney, coming off the bench for 10 points and six rebounds in IU's third-round victory.
Lee is taking full advantage of what is, in essence, a free-agent situation. More than 50 schools have contacted him, with IU and Iowa State topping his list.
Crean has talked to him, even offering suggestions on what Lee needs to improve on for the next level. Hoosier freshman Troy Williams also has passed on the benefits of a Cream 'n Crimson experience. Lee's goals are to find a program that can get him NBA ready, that will win big next season and that has teammates he can bond with.
CBS Sports reported late Sunday that Vonleh will enter the NBA draft this summer, so Lee would fill the void in a big way.
The 6-10 Vonleh, the Big Ten freshman of the year, led the conference in rebounding (9.0) and averaged 11.3 points. He shot 48.5 percent (16-for-33) from three-point range, 52.3 percent overall and 71.6 percent from the line. He projects as a lottery pick.
IU has a pair of sophomore inside players to replace Vonleh in 6-9 Hanner Perea and 6-8 Jeremy Hollowell. Seven-foot sophomore Peter Jurkin has barely played in his two years because of injuries.
Crean isn't sacrificing the long-term recruiting view. He's taken a long look at Homestead sophomore standout Caleb Swanigan. The 6-9, 280-pound Swanigan is ranked No. 31 nationally in the Class of 2016. Swanigan had 22 points and 13 rebounds in a semistate loss to Lake Central over the weekend.
Also in the hunt are Michigan State, Illinois, Pitt, Tennessee and Georgetown.
The Hoosiers also are in a battle with Michigan State for 6-7 Kansas senior forward Marvin Clark, a three-star prospect who is set to pick a school today.
Crean also has looked at Michigan 6-8 senior forward Yante Maten and Illinois 6-7 senior forward Josh Cunningham.
Maten is a three-star prospect also being recruited by Virginia Tech, Utah, Colorado, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Purdue. During a state playoff game last week, he had 31 points, 17 rebounds, 10 blocks and seven assists.
One of the best things about Cummingham is that he knows how to win. He just helped his Morgan Park High School team win its second straight Illinois Class 3A state title. He's a four-star prospect rated No. 80 nationally in the Class of 2014 by Rivals.com, a national recruiting service.
Iowa State is IU's main rival, and the fact the Cyclones are in the Sweet 16 can't hurt their prospects.
Hoosier coaches also got a long look at Illinois guard Jalen Brunson, who scored a state tourney record-56 points in a playoff defeat. The 6-1 Brunson is ranked No. 28 in the Class of 2015.
IU has plenty of interest in Kentucky 6-9 junior forward Raymond Spalding. He's ranked No. 128 in the Class of 2015. Also in the mix are Butler, Clemson, Dayton, Northwestern and Xavier.
Meanwhile, Crean's incoming freshmen will have a busy spring.
James Blackmon Jr., the former Bishop Luers standout who spent his final season at Marion, will play in three April events, starting with the McDonald's All-American Game at Chicago's United Center on April 2. He'll also participate in the Nike Hoop Summit and the Jordan Brand Classic.
Guard Robert Johnson and swingman Max Hoetzel will play in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Louisville's Freedom Hall on April 18. They'll also participate in the Night of Future Stars on April 17 at Floyd Central High School.