Tom Crean: Draft success shows IU program’s greatness
BLOOMINGTON — It’s not as if Indiana coach Tom Crean needed any more help when it comes to recruiting, not after landing back-to-back top-ranked classes.
But putting two Hoosiers into the top 4 of the NBA Draft gives IU that much more leverage.
“We were already recruiting in the sense to try to win as much as we can, so I don’t think it’s going to change the person that we’re recruiting as much,” Crean said during a conference call Friday. “But I think what it signifies … 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.
“If you’re soft, if you’re selfish, you’re not going to make it here.”
Nothing soft or selfish about Victor Oladipo or Cody Zeller, who became the first IU teammates ever selected in the top four picks of an NBA Draft.
The work ethics of both players not only helped the Hoosiers to consecutive Sweet 16 appearances the past two seasons, but also dramatically improved their draft stock. Oladipo went from a lightly regarded high school player to the second overall pick in the draft in three years, while Zeller — projected as a later lottery pick in many mock drafts — ended up drafted fourth overall.
Going so early in the draft of course means both players enter losing situations. Oladipo’s new team, Orlando, had the NBA’s worst record last season at 20-62. Charlotte, Zeller’s new home, was second-worst at 21-61.
But Crean is confident in the “infectious energy” each brings.
“I don’t think they need to make a lot of changes in how they act and operate when it comes to being members of a team, because they’ve proven it works here,” Crean said. “I’d be shocked if their coaches don’t feel they’re showing great leadership to their entire team in a short period of time.”
“I’m not worried about the title of franchise guy or anything,” Zeller said Thursday night. “I’m going to come in and try to be the hardest-working guy.”
“In Indiana we had a huge rebuilding process,” Oladipo said, “so I know what it takes.
“I’m looking forward to going there and working hard and playing at a high level and help impact winning.”
Christian Watford wasn’t drafted, but he’ll have the opportunity to showcase his skills in summer league play. It was reported Friday that Watford will play for the Pacers’ team in Orlando, July 7-12, and the Dallas Mavericks’ team in Las Vegas, July 12-22.