FORT WAYNE – Indiana coach Tom Crean said he didn’t need two top-five NBA draft picks to help build momentum for his program.
But it sure helps.
I think this program has a lot of energy anyways – it’s one of the things we’re built on, Crean said during a teleconference Friday. But there’s no question that it brings more energy.
That energy was palpable in Bloomington on Thursday, as well – hours before former Hoosiers Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller were selected with the No. 2 and No. 4 pick of the NBA draft.
Oladipo is now a member of the Orlando Magic. Zeller is with the Charlotte Bobcats.
And Crean and his staff are emphasizing that success to recruits and current players.
Those guys were tremendous representatives of what it means to be great people and just be absolute competitive nightmares on the floor, Crean said. I think that’s what they are, and that’s what we want to continue to recruit.
Thursday was the fifth time in program history two Hoosiers were selected in the first round. It was the first time two IU players were picked in the top four.
The infectious energy both players possess, Crean said, puts them in this position as much as their work ethic and talent.
Over the last two years, we’d stat everything in practice, and any time there’s a win-lose we’d keep track of that, Crean said. And (Oladipo) and Cody were our two biggest winners in practice over the last two years in everything that we did.
Whether that translates to the professional level remains to be seen. But regardless of the results, the Hoosiers now have two examples of how NBA talent can blossom in Bloomington.
This shows that Crean’s process works, and that IU is a destination not just because of history or recent success but for players who want to grow and reach the NBA.
I don’t think it’s going to change the person that we’re recruiting as much, Crean said. This goes to show you don’t have to deal with any entitlement. You don’t have to deal with any enlightening guys to make them think that this is a great program. This is a great program. And if you’re soft, if you’re selfish, you’re not going to make it here.
Oladipo and Zeller were the antithesis of soft and selfish. And their experience rebuilding a program in Bloomington should help them in Orlando and Charlotte.
The Magic were a league-worst 20-62 this season, with the Bobcats (21-61) not far behind.
They won’t be afraid to compete, Crean said. They’ll go in and they’ll blend, and they’ll respect their teammates. I don’t think they need to make a lot of changes in how they act and operate as members of a team because they’ve proven it works here.
Oladipo and Zeller might not be the only NBA-bound Hoosiers.
Christian Watford went undrafted Thursday, but the forward said in a text that he will likely compete in summer camps with the Indiana Pacers and Dallas Mavericks. Watford offered no further comment, and neither did Crean. But the coach thinks Watford will land on a NBA roster.
He was highly disappointed. I mean, there’s no question about that, Crean said. He’ll get back at it, and he’ll be really busy here quickly.