Once basketball fans’ heads stopped spinning following the Cleveland Caveliers‘ shocking choice of Anthony Bennett with the top choice in the 2013 NBA Draft on Thursday night, they saw a whole lot of Indiana Hoosiers highlights. For the first time since Isaiah Thomas was picked second overall in 1981, a Hoosier was selected in the top five in the NBA Draft: Victor Oladipo was taken by the Orlando Magic with the second pick. Then it happened again; Cody Zeller was taken fourth, unfortunately for him, by the Charlotte Bobcats. With that, not one but two former Hoosiers were taken in the top four picks of the 2013 NBA Draft.
For the Indiana program, this is another sign of their return to prominence in the world of basketball. After being one of the best basketball programs in the country through the 1990s and then being the Big Ten doormat in recent years, a return to the top is significant for the Hoosiers. Coach Tom Crean knows that putting players into the top of the NBA Draft is huge in recruiting, telling IUHoosiers.com, “I think it just brings a different dose of energy. I think this program has a lot of energy anyways. It’s one of the things we’re built on. There is no question it brings more energy.”
This energy that Crean mentions is the fact that the top high school players in the country can now look at Indiana — similar to Kentucky, an NBA minor league team of sorts these days — as a program that can bolster them to the next level.
Winning Big Ten championships and being ranked no. 1 in national polls are both great for recruiting, but the top thing that many big recruits want to see is that they are more likely to make it to the next level at a certain school. Producing top five NBA Draft picks shows recruits that Crean and the Indiana program can push players into the NBA, and that message should cause more and more NBA-level recruits to choose Indiana.
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