by Kent Sterling
On the eve of the Big Ten opener against Illinois in Champaign, coach Tom Crean found out that his bench at Assembly Hall will have some extra room.
The chair that freshman forward Luke Fischer would have occupied will be empty – or filled by the next man up for Indiana.
As is always the case, there will be wild speculation about why Fischer chose to leave, but that first semester away from home can be tough. For a kid who was a hero in Germantown, Wisconsin, being a part-time player away from lifelong friends can be tough. Adjusting to Bloomington is too much to ask of some young men.
To ascribe Fischer’s leaving to something sinister or to a misstep by Crean is silly. With a few exceptions, kids leave after the first semester because they are miserable. They leave after their freshman year because they are frustrated. They leave after two years because there is no clear path to their dream at the current school.
For a kid who loved his life back home, a university four hours away with almost 40,000 students can be an incredibly lonely place.
IU released a statement with a quote from Crean that says what you would expect, “Luke has decided to withdraw from Indiana and pursue another educational and basketball opportunity,” said Crean. “He explained to us he is looking for a different fit for him. We hate to see a fine young man like Luke leave, but he has made his decision and we wish the entire Fischer family well.”
Fischer was tied for eighth in minutes played this season with 130 in 13 games. For those of you who did not excel in M014 Basic Math, that’s an average of 10 minutes per game. He scored a total of 37 points for an average of 2.8 points per game.
Ironically, his best game was his last on December 22 against Kennesaw State, scoring a career high 10 points in 19 minutes on 4-5 shooting.
Fischer came to Indiana as ESPN’s 34th ranked player in the high school class of 2013 after leading his high school team to consecutive undefeated state championship seasons at Germantown (WI) High School.
Also offering Fischer, according to ESPN’s recruiting database, were Boston College, Creighton, Iowa, and Marquette. If the homesickness call is correct, Fischer would likely choose to enroll at Marquette. If he goes to BC, we can start to look for alternative explanations.
This will have virtually no effect on the short term prospects for Indiana as Fischer was not likely to be a difference maker this season. His presence was going to be meaningful beginning next year.
Fischer’s departure opens up the third scholarship needed for the 2014 freshman class of James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson, and Max Hoetzel. If there is anything fans have learned about Crean during his nearly six years in Bloomington is that he is never done recruiting, so it’s likely another player or two will be added before the late signing period ends in the spring.
Players leaving isn’t always bad, and it isn’t always the fault of a player or a coach. Sometimes it’s just what it appears to be, a kid correcting a choice that didn’t work out for him.