By: Kyle Dunne, Indiana contributor
Gary Harris is one of the few highly ranked, unsigned recruits remaining from the state of Indiana for the class of 2012. By numerous accounts, the 6’6’’ shooting guard’s top three schools consist of Indiana, Purdue and Michigan State. With many of his friends already committed to play for the Hoosiers, as well as Bloomington’s close proximity to his hometown of Fishers, it may be very hard for Harris to turn down the opportunity to play for Tom Crean. However, because of the already clouded scholarship situation, a Harris commitment to Indiana could make things complicated in Bloomington.
Assuming Matt Roth does not use his 5th year of eligibility at Indiana, two additional current Indiana players or committed players through the class of 2012 would need to vacate their scholarships for the 2012-2013 season. This could be accomplished through transfers, early entries into the NBA draft, a player offering to give up their scholarship and pay for their school or a player in the 2012 class reclassifying.
If Harris does commit to Indiana, only five of the Hoosiers’ 2012 recruiting class would be able to sign their letters of intent in November. While it is not my intention to speculate on which current players will or will not be with the team at this point next year, it is intriguing to look at the different scenarios.
Entering the 2012 season, Jordan Hulls, Derek Elston, Christian Watford and Maurice Creek will be seniors. None of which are likely to transfer and be forced to sit out a full season with only one year of eligibility remaining.
Furthermore, at this time next year, Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey will be preparing for their Junior seasons at Indiana, while this year’s freshmen class consisting of Cody Zeller, Remy Abell and Austin Etherington will be sophomores. Oladipo and Sheehey have already shown flashes that they will be able to contribute to a strong Hoosier team if they continue to develop. It is difficult to imagine any of the above mentioned players leaving the program for any reason except a transfer.
That leaves the five currently verbal commitments to Indiana of the 2012 class: Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, Jermy Hollowell, Ron Patterson, Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin. All of these players are very close and it would be a shock if one or more doesn’t suit up for Indiana. The only exception would be Jurkin. It is not out of the realm of possibilities for Jurkin to reclassify to the 2013 because the center has been hampered by an injury and has not played competitively in months. This would help part of the scholarship problem, but no serious discussions have taken place regarding this scenario. There are obviously numerous solutions that would solve the lack of scholarship for Gary Harris, should he want to play for Indiana, but it could lead to some difficult conversations and possible tension amongst the teammates as they realize their scholarship may not be available the following year.
Transfers are unpredictable and happen at college programs across the nation. However, the Hoosiers have experienced a high transfer rate the past handful of seasons. Part of the reason for this, no doubt, is due to the need for upgraded talent within the program recently.
Now I am not insinuating that Crean would or should turn down Harris if he decides he does want to play for Indiana. Quite frankly, the Hoosiers still aren’t in any position to turn away a talent like Harris and Crean and the rest of the coaching staff have spent way too much time pursuing Harris. Still, there comes a point when having annual transfers is not good for the program and can be negatively used against the program during the recruiting process.
Harris has stated that Indiana, Purdue and Michigan State will receive official visits from him, adding that he may or may not use all of the five visits allowed by the NCAA. The other schools recently mentioned as possible contenders are Stanford, Louisville and Notre Dame, though all indications are that the three Big Ten schools have the best shot at Harris’ services.
He recently scheduled three official visits This first is to Purdue on October 1st, when the Boilermaker football team hosts Notre Dame in a night game to be televised on ABC/ESPN. The next is to Indiana on October 15th, a date which may include the 2011 Hoosier Hysteria event but no home football game. The third visit is to Michigan State on Nov 5th, as the Spartans host the Golden Gophers of Minnesota.