Indiana basketball top recruits: Talent level on Hoosier rosters of the 90s results in expansion of list
Former Indiana University men’s basketball coach Bob Knight kicked off the 1990s by signing the best middle school player in the history of basketball (if you believe the hyperbole surrounding eventual Indiana Mr. Basketball Damon Bailey).
“Damon Bailey is better than any guard we have right now,” Knight was quoted in the best-selling book “Season on the brink” after watching the Heltonville native play – in the eighth grade. “I don’t mean potentially better, I mean better today.”
Bailey was one of several elite college players that dotted the Indiana rosters during that decade.
With the Hoosiers seeking to finalize their 2018 recruiting class Monday with the (hopeful) signing of New Albany High School standout Romeo Langford, News-Sentinel.com college basketball reporter Tom Davis will take a daily look at the top 10 (11 on this list because I simply couldn’t cut it to 10) Indiana recruits of each decade (in no particular order).
Today’s Hoosier recruiting list: 1990 to 1999
Coming Thursday: 1980 to 1989
No player could ever have possibly lived up to five years of lead-in hype, but Bailey had the perfect personality to do so.
He averaged double figures in every season with the program after coming off the bench for good portions of his first three seasons.
As a senior, Bailey almost doubled his productivity to 19 points per game dished out 273 assists over his final two years.
He was an All-Big Ten selection as a senior and Third Team All-American and shot over 43 percent from 3-point range for his career.
The Indianapolis native was very good as a freshman and was spectacular by the time that he graduated.
The forward averaged 11 points and over seven rebounds per game over his first two seasons, the second of which was derailed by a late-season knee injury.
Henderson came back to average 17 points and 10 rebounds as a junior and 23 and 10 as a senior. He graduated as the Hoosiers’ all-time leader in rebounds.
His senior season he was recognized as First Team All-Big Ten and as an All-American.
Henderson was a first-round selection by Atlanta in the 1995 NBA Draft.
The Terre Haute native rose from nowhere (four starts as a freshman) to NBA first-round selection (Orlando in 1996).
After averaging five points per game and hitting 23 3-pointers as a freshman, Evans increased the latter numbers to 43, 58 and 62 over his final three seasons.
He averaged 11, 17 and eventually 21 points per game as a senior and was named as the Big Ten Player of the Year and an All-American. That season, Evans also led Indiana in rebounding.
Evans was named as the Indiana University Male Athlete of the Year as a senior.
The 6-foot-9 forward played in 28 games as a freshman but increased that to over 30 in each of his final three seasons.
Patterson raised his scoring seven points per game in year one to 11 as a sophomore and a team-best 13 as a junior.
His senior season he 12 points per game and led the Hoosiers in rebounding each of his final two seasons.
Patterson was a second-round selection in the 1998 NBA Draft by Minnesota.
The 6-foot-3 guard only averaged in double figures for the Hoosiers two seasons, but ultimately, as the story of Indiana basketball is told, no Hoosier player will have played a more significant role in its history than Reed.
Reed averaged five points as a freshman but increased that to 10 as a sophomore, which was a season in which he led the Hoosiers in assists, as well.
He scored 12 points per game as a junior before transferring out of the program. However, he ultimately was the centerpiece of an investigation that wrought the termination of legendary coach Bob Knight.
In a practice session, years earlier, Knight had grabbed Reed by the throat and choked him. The act was caught on video and released years later. That was the last straw for the Hoosier administration, which fired Knight in the fall of 2000.
The Illinois native burst upon the scene in a big-time way by averaging 13 points and dishing out nearly 130 assists en route to the Big Ten Freshman of the Year honor.
He increased that to 16 per game in each of the next two seasons and shot over 40 percent from 3-point range.
As a senior, Guyton was named as the Big Ten Player of the Year and an All-American after averaging 19 points per game.
He was a second-round selection of the Chicago Bulls in the 2000 NBA Draft.
The Indiana Mr. Basketball out of DeKalb High School didn’t disappoint as he averaged 12 points per game as a freshman in 32 games.
He built on that as a sophomore by scoring a team-high 16 per game and passing for 90 assists (second on the team).
Recker then left the program and transferred to Iowa for his final two seasons.
The 6-foot-10 post wasn’t a heralded recruit but he was solid from day one.
As a freshman, he started just 13 of 34 games but averaged nearly 10 points and over six rebounds per game.
As a sophomore, he raised his productivity to 15 and eight and was named First Team All-Big Ten, despite starting just two of 29 games.
Haston blossomed under new coach Mike Davis in his first season leading the Hoosiers.
After never hitting a 3-pointer in his first two seasons, Haston made 26 in his junior year and averaged 19 points (which led the Big Ten) and nearly nine rebounds (second in the league).
He was an All-American selection and First Team All-Big Ten and declared a year early for the 2001 NBA Draft and was a first-round selection of Charlotte.
The former Indiana Mr. Basketball took awhile to emerge in Bloomington, but he eventually did so in fine fashion.
The Noblesville native scored just 10 points as a freshman, but averaged that much over 34 games as a sophomore, while also dishing out a team-best 163 assists.
He averaged 11 points per game in each of his final two seasons and again led Indiana in assists each of those seasons.
Coverdale played a critical role in the Hoosiers’ run to the national championship game in 2002.
The former Michigan Mr. Basketball and McDonald’s All-American didn’t make a significant impact on box scores but was versatile in his production.
Fife was a defensive force on the Hoosiers’ 2001-02 Big Ten co-champion and Final Four team and broke the program’s career steals record (180).
“You always knew what you were going to get out of Dane,” Davis said following Fife’s playing career. “He went out every game and fought, and it was a habit for him to do that. His toughness as a player was a big part of our success.”
He was named as the Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Year as a senior and also ranks among Indiana’s all-time top 20 in assists (307), 3-pointers (99), and his .478 three-point field goal percentage in 2001-02 is sixth on the Hoosiers’ single-season list.
Fife also holds Indiana’s single-season record for games started (37) and is tied for sixth in career games played (131).
Like Fife, Lewis wasn’t an offensive force in terms of points scored, but he was from points produced standpoint.
The Jasper High School standout only averaged double figures as a senior (10.3 points per game), but he led Indiana in assists in each of his final three seasons.
Lewis led the Hoosiers twice in free throw percentage (1998 and 1999) and graduated as the program’s all-time leader in assists.
He had 15 assists in a game at Iowa in February 1998, which is a program record and still holds the Indiana mark for career assists in Big Ten play.
Lewis’ eight steals against Ohio State in 1999 is the second most in program history in a single game.
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