Indiana Basketball – Fans Should Not Sweat Transfers of Austin Etherington and Others to Come

by Kent Sterling

Former IU players Remy Abell (left) and Austin Etherington (right) have left Indiana over the past two off seasons.

Former IU players Remy Abell (left) and Austin Etherington (right) have left Indiana over the past two off seasons.

Players leave programs all the time.  It happens almost everywhere, and for the most part, it’s a win/win/win as the kid wins, the program he goes to wins, and the program he leaves wins.

That will likely be the case for Austin Etherington, a redshirt sophomore who has asked for and has been granted his release.  Etherington will leave Indiana with his degree in management from SPEA, and have two years of eligibility left, Indiana will have room to add a late signee from the class of 2014 or a transfer, and a school (likely Indiana State, where Austin’s brother Alex plays) will get a smart, tough-minded player with great leadership qualities.

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News of Etherington’s transfer comes hours after Noah Vonleh told CBS that he will enter the NBA Draft.  If Etherington’s transfer was less than a shock, Vonleh’s announcement confirmed what was suspected before he ever arrived in Bloomington.  He didn’t re-class a year ahead because he wanted to get his degree before turning 21.  The plan was one-and-done from the beginning.

Whether a successful program can be sustained with uber-talented kids whose interest in college is not likely to extend beyond eight months is debatable.  If Wichita State hits a last second three-pointer yesterday, Kentucky fans would have started to murmur about John Calipari’s predilection toward single-year players.

For Indiana, the blood letting is likely not over.  There is going to be at least one more player who will decide to leave Bloomington for what he believes will be greener pastures.

That’s not necessarily an indictment on the leadership of Tom Crean.  There are very few players who don’t give at least passing thought to transferring after their sophomore year.  That’s the year when the player has his greatest value to another school, and many realize that whatever their dreams were as freshmen are not likely to be fulfilled at their current address.

There is a current player on Indiana’s roster that was destined for the NBA, a prominent and well-informed booster told me before the player’s freshman year.  I had seen him play several times, and thought he would find it difficult to enjoy a prominent role during Big Ten play, much less ever play a minute in the NBA.  That is the wide swath of opinions surrounding these young players.  I’m sure that kid thought he would head to Bloomington, dominate, and bounce the millions awaiting NBA stars.  That did not happen.  In fact, his minutes diminished throughout the season, and whether his playing next year would be a net gain for Indiana is in grave doubt.

His optimistic assessment and subsequent disappointment certainly can’t be his fault.  It’s the coach, circumstances, teammates reluctance to pass him the ball, bad luck, quality of water, inability to find a steady girl, lack of support from teammates, distance to family, etc…  Well, over at the school he spurned to accept at IU, people are doing well, and if he could turn back time, he would have committed elsewhere.  He can’t turn back time, so he bolts rather than invite more regret.

The coach tries to help with an accurate appraisal, but it only confirms in the player’s mind that the coach has it out for him.

Fans like to blame the coach, which is ludicrous most of the time.  The kids are self-immersed, and eager to chase an unattainable vision buffeted by friends and family who can’t see the forest for the trees.

Long story short is that the churn that may continue throughout the spring in Bloomington has a lot more to do with the flakiness of youth than a void in the leadership department.  To this point, it looks like Etherington wants to play with his brother, and Vonleh wants to get paid.  Neither has anything to do with Crean.

Now if Yogi Ferrell, Stanford Robinson, and Troy Williams all announce their intent to vamoose, the narrative changes.

41 thoughts on “Indiana Basketball – Fans Should Not Sweat Transfers of Austin Etherington and Others to Come

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Fischer transferred three months ago. Wrote about it then. I also didn’t write today about John Flowers transferring to UNLV or Chris Lawson leaving for Vanderbilt.

      Reply
  1. Evan

    Sorry probably the dumbest article I’ve read. Erherington is the best scorer on IUs whole roster if coach crean wasn’t such a dumb ass to let him get in his groove. Thank God he is leaving to a school where he will succeed and leaving iu, a team that won’t get farther than the second round or the tourney under coach creams dumb ass

    Reply
    1. kentsterling Post author

      Not sure where I was critical about Etherington as a player or kid. The offense Crean runs is not suited to Etherington’s skill set. He’ll be a great role model for players at Indiana State, or wherever he lands. He’s also a really good basketball player.

      Reply
  2. Matterhorn

    There’s always an excuse isn’t there Kent let’s see….Luke Fisher is homesick, Maurice Creek has a kid, Noah wants money, Ron Patterson made a C- instead of a C, Austin wants to play with his brother LOL, can’t wait for the excuse when the next one leaves….What a joke this is.

    Reply
    1. kentsterling Post author

      Just to correct the specifics of your comment, Indiana was quite good through 93-94. After that, Knight became indifferent in recruiting, Mike Davis was a train wrenk, Kelvin Sampson an arrogant and amoral tool, Dan Dakich brought back a sense of ethics, and Tom Crean who is still building his legacy.

      Reply
  3. Mark GiaQuinta

    This sounds very defensive. There was a chemistry issue on this team. The Coach didnt see it or didnt know what to do about it. However these are his recruits. He is supposed to know how to deal with their flakiness. Ge didnt. Crean needs to assess his failure and work to correct it. He should start by settling down during games and lustening to his assistants or at least appear interested in what they might have to say.

    Reply
    1. Dave M

      You may be partially correct. Coach Crean, in his radio interview, did allude to the team chemistry issue. He did say he was addressing it now. I find it hard to believe that one would think he didn’t know about it during the season or that he wouldn’t have tried to address it at the time.

      As a parallel, Archie Miller at Dayton was interviewed very recently about turning the Dayton team around. He said after two losses he went into team meetings not knowing if he would be successful changing their chemistry. Clearly, he was successful. But, to emphasize my point…he didn’t know if he would be successful…he went on…it was up to the team.

      Reply
  4. Jeff Russell

    Side track commentary to cool things off—-you mentioned John Flowers….I was at IU when he transferred and left in the evening. A friend of mine was his “suite mate”, for those who don’t know means they shared a phone…on a swivel between the two rooms. My friend called me and said Flowers packed a few things and took off. I came over and looked through the phone box and saw that he had left his sneakers, candy striped pants and jacket. I took the phone out and squeezed through the box ( could never do that now) and had in my possession actual Hoosier warm ups. The shoes were so big I could put them on without taking my own shoes off. I wore them to parties even though I looked like Tom Hanks in “Big” right after he shrinks. Unfortunately they were lost over time at parties (probably stolen which is equal justice) by unknown girls who wanted to try on the clothes. Ok, back to the arguments !

    Reply
    1. kentsterling Post author

      Hilarious. I was at IU then, and my roommate was a good friend of Flowers. He was a ridiculously gifted athlete.

      Reply
  5. Brian

    Tom Crean will NEVER take IU back to the glory days! Booster’s will get to antsy and Crean will get a boot in his ass before given the chance to turn it around!! Honestly…I’m 33 years old and I have very very faint memories of any successful teams that have played while I’ve been alive! Since Knight left…..you guys suck! Sorry….but IU bball sucks!! Go Wisconsin!! Now…there’s a consistent basketball team!! Year in & year out!! Go Buckey!!

    Reply
  6. Jeff Gregory

    I would agree with you concerning transfers normally, but this didn’t happen in a vacuum. The team underachieved big time this year. I didn’t expect them to be as good as last year, but they had a good enough core to qualify for the tourney, much less the NIT. We don’t have to rehash all the things that were bad about this year, but as far as Etherington, what kid would give up a scholarship to play at IU in the Big Ten so they can play at a mid-major. Perhaps a kid that wasn’t going to get any playing time, but that isn’t the case with Etherington.

    As far as Vonleh, you wrote: “Vonleh’s announcement confirmed what was suspected before he ever arrived in Bloomington. He didn’t re-class a year ahead because he wanted to get his degree before turning 21. The plan was one-and-done from the beginning.” All I can say about that is this:

    “The NBA is always going to be there. I just want to go to college, have a great time, play basketball and get a degree,” –Noah Vonleh

    This team is imploding. There is little chance that they are going to experience any kind of success next year. I have maintained that Crean should be given another year with the influx of shooters coming in to add to Vonleh and the other promising freshmen and, of course, Ferrell. However, I also said that if Vonleh and/or Ferrell leaves, then it would be a good time to rebuild with a new coach. I stand by that.

    Reply
    1. kentsterling Post author

      If you were Vonleh, would you have answered a question about the NBA by saying, “Damn straight, come April I’m wheels up! Going to the league. This is a purgatory for me. What the hell am I going to do with a degree when I am going to be a millionaire at 18?”

      Reply
      1. Jeff Gregory

        I would not say I would bolt for the NBA if I was asked, but there is a whole lot of room between that and what he actually said. In other words, I wouldn’t outright mislead with my answer and I don’t think Vonleh would either. SOMETHING helped him jump at the earliest opportunity.

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    2. John

      I agree with Jeff. IU needs at a minimum Ferrell, Williams and Robinson to come back to have any sort of team. If any one of them goes might as well pack in the Crean era and move on. I just hope this time IU will spring for an outstanding coach and not and “up and comer” IU basketball is supposed to be a storied program. With all the intense scrutiny a coach get it is a disservice to hire and up and comer IU and the so-called boosters need to get a real national level coach.

      Reply
  7. Philboyd Studge

    Spring Creaning has commenced in earnest. Since this post went up, Hollowell has joined the parade. What a disgrace.

    Is this the “losing the right way” that Indiana has been so proud of over the years, Kent? Sign good kids, get them to commit to spend their college years in Bloomington, then every March kick two or three or four of them to the curb? For what? Some tawdry chase after other programs’ transfers and bad actor rejects and JUCOs who didn’t have the grades to get into college after HS? What a shabby circus. And you do yourself a disservice by the disingenuous display of a column like this.

    If John Calipari were doing this you’d be cackling at what a heartless SOB he was. Instead, he is virtually the only guy out there honest with these top recruits from the first day — and unlike Jim Boeheim or Roy Williams or Mike K or Tom Crean — he won’t tell some kid whose best interest is served by going to the NBA and becoming a millionaire lies about how he needs to hang around for another year. Roy Williams has probably cost James Michael McAdoo $10 million as his draft status fell year after year. That money is never coming back, and he doesn’t get some second chance to earn it with his African American Studies degree from Chapel Hill.

    That’s why the cream of the crop follows him to Kentucky. He’s honest with them. How ironic that the wannabee programs trying to follow his lead by signing guys like Vonleh and Parker and Wiggins take delight in criticizing him for succeeding where they fail.

    Reply
    1. kentsterling Post author

      I’m curious at what point Crean lied to a kid to get him to stay – when Oladipo was drafted #2, when Zeller was drafted #4, Vonleh who is leaving after one season?

      If you believe honesty is the chief reason that raft full of soon-to-be NBA talent reports for eight months to Lexington, you are shocking me with your naiveté.

      I believe it was because of Crean’s honesty that Hollowell is leaving. They met, and I believe Hollowell was told what his role would be next year. As a result, he’s leaving for a program where he will be featured.

      The Creek transfer I question. The story was that he wanted to be near his son. Not sure I buy that. The Remy Abell transfer was different. I believe that was Crean kicking him to the curb out of anger for some snark during a workout. Not sure, but I heard from two different sources that there was a brief exchange, and then Abell was gone.

      Reply
  8. Gary Hadderstock

    Tom Crean hurts the children. If there was a care for a kid, they’d stay. Crean is all about the Hawaiian Tropic and Jolt! cola. Tommy Clapsalot has got to go.

    Reply
  9. Warren in TN

    Well, before the virtual ink dries on this article, add in Hollowell and Matlin to the list. I’m hearing rumors that Perea may be transferring as well. If that happens, then the roster looks like this :

    troy williams
    devin davis
    stanford robinson
    yogi farrell
    …. with 3 incoming

    Even with Perea staying, that only leaves 8. And Indiana fans aren’t even supposed to SWEAT over all of this?!?!? Seriously? No sweat? Not even a single drop? That is pure pathetic apathy to even write what you did here, Kent.

    And I’m a Kentucky fan. One that would like to see Indiana become relevant once again, and you know I’m genuine about that.

    I suppose if the rest of them leave, the “narrative changes” to something like : Is Indiana basketball dead for the 2014-15 season, for real! You wouldn’t have enough to even field a team next year if you lose 4 more, unless you get me to come walk on with some of my friends so we can actually practice.

    And I’m a Kentucky fan, Kent.

    I find all of this absolutely SHOCKING, the free fall that is happening. I read what you’re saying, and I am thinking “Kent must’ve been Nero in another life, cause’ this tune’s been fiddled before.”

    Potshots at UK and Coach Cal aside, it’s time to be very alarmed at what is transpiring in Bloomington. It’s not ENTIRELY unexpected, but to take all this in on ONE DAY? God forbid another day like this one.

    Kent, I like you, man, but you have to be alarmed at all of this. Wake up, please! It’s times like this I am reminded to quote the noted philosopher Andy Dufresne: “Hope is a good thing….maybe the best of things.”

    You just have to be careful not to let hope turn into wishful thinking…which, in some circumstances, can be a quite perilous form of denial. You’ve demonstrated enough of that this past season in many of your articles. And you’re deep in denial if all of this isn’t even worth sweating over.

    Just do yourself and Hoosiers everywhere a favor and forget Kentucky temporarily, just don’t even mention UK. Focus on Indiana 100%. The house is on fire and someone needs to grab a bucket.

    Get to work and put the fire out NOW, somehow, someway.

    Reply
    1. kentsterling Post author

      There are ways to write the headline in a way that would make it seem like Assembly Hall is burning, but the truth is – of those leaving, who would really help next year? Vonleh would definitely help, but you can’t question the motivation of a lottery pick. Other than OK State’s Smart, none I can think of have stuck around. Etherington, Hollowell, and Marlin were bit players on a failed team.

      The Etherington transfer would bother me if he wasn’t going to receive his degree in May.

      Hollowell never should have been offered at IU, so I consider that part of today a correction. Marlin is a great kid, but walk-ons leaving are a part of life. It’s a tough life for a kid who doesn’t have a scholarship and will not be offered one. My son was in that position, and it’s a thankless job.

      The building isn’t burning right now. It’s just been de-cluttered.

      Reply
      1. Warren in TN

        Well, OK, if you say so. I’ll just take your word for all of that. Nevertheless, something should be said for the national perception that it looks really bad for IU. Or maybe I’m wrong about that being the national perception. I think it looks really bad, and that can only hurt Indiana on the recruiting front, an area which it needs to have improvement in, asap.

        If I’m wrong on all of that, then maybe Indiana isn’t in as bad a straights as I think. I hope so, for the Hoosiers’ sake.

        Reply
        1. kentsterling Post author

          I’ve just seen so many people transfer for crazy reasons that have nothing to do with the public narrative that becomes accepted as gospel that I’m trying to be circumspect until we have a reason to infer the coming apocalypse that many are eager to predict.

          Reply
  10. Laura

    Did someone seriously say that Etherington is our best scorer?
    And Wisconsin is consistent, but they’re not winning any championships. So consistency is not any better if you’re consistently disappointed that your team doesn’t win a title.

    Reply
  11. john

    so hollowells a trainwreck and never belonged at iu. according to kent he saw him play and knew he was going to flop. if kent knew this then why didn’t crean know this? etheringtons skill set not suited for crean’s offense. if kent knew this why didn’t crean know this? players do transfer but not with this regularity. these players are simply not happy as a team. they are not happy with their coach. its certainly not all on the coach but to some degree if there is no glue on the team the coach has to find the glue. why did remy leave? he was going to get more minutes than ever and he would have been a second shooter. remy saw what was happening. he lost faith in his coach and jumped ship. some of these players have lost faithg in their coach. these players know something we don’t. they live it everyday. and this consistent rate of transfers tells me that they don’t believe in this coach. and that’s a problem. kent if you consider yourself a journalist take of the gloves.

    Reply
  12. Bob

    Sorry, I have to agree with Kent. I hate to see kids leave, usually, but only Etherington was unexpected at all, and seeing reasoning, makes sense. He wants to be a star, and ISU is a good fit.

    As for Hollowell, sorry but he seems a head case. Everything you read before he arrived said so, and nothing I saw on the floor ever said otherwise.

    Vonleh…good for him. I see he is projected #8. It is what he wanted, so IU met his goals. Good for him. I hope he stays a fan, and helps recruiting. He was fun to watch.

    Living right outside of Kentucky, I am glad IU only gets one McD all-star a year.

    If Williams, Davis, Ferrell and Robinson come back, and the freshman are good, and crean adds a couple of JuCos or late signees IU will be back to second or third ten.

    Give Crean two more years. He didn’t destroy IU, and he isn;;t embarrassing us (except in the second half 🙂 of some games).

    Reply
  13. Linda Buehling

    Dom Mesersmith is right. There is a disconnect between Coach Crean and the kids today. He is not the answer. Damon Bailey is a girls h.s. bball juggernaut coach. Get him and Chris Reynolds on the phone to bring back the glory. Banner up! The Movement! We’re back!

    Reply
    1. John

      We don’t need a nobody like Damon Bailey, as much as I liked him as a player. If IU is a good program then we need to get a GREAT coach. IU just needs to BUCK UP, that’s the only way to have the program reach it’s potential, which is still high having been a pretty bad program since the early 90s including the latter part of the Bob Knight era.

      Reply
  14. Wheels are comin' off

    Indiana fans shouldn’t be concerned with losing four players to transfer in one day (not to mention ? You’re grasping at straws with this article, old Kent. Are you letting hope blind a grim reality? Sure, if you look at these transfers in a vacuum, they can be justified. But when you look at the situation as a whole, it reeks of a massive, looming internal problem in the Indiana Basketball program. In fact, it looks a lot like the Billy G situation down at Kentucky a few years ago. There is a cancer in the program Kent, and there is only one common dominator. Clap, clap, clap…

    Reply
    1. kentsterling Post author

      I’m not ready to go there yet. The aggregate of the transfers is statistically negligible. Five guys bolting on a single day is unprecedented, but assessing the reason behind it without one of the guys honestly revealing his motivation being a Crean behavior issue or lack of leadership is premature.

      Reply
  15. Alan Chesen

    As you say, players transfer or leave all the time. A quick check of the Jeff Goodman list from last year indicates most transfer to lesser programs. In other words, they go originally to programs where the competition for playing time weeds them out. Just another reality check for players, coaches, and especially fans. With IU, it’s just time to move on. Time to make the best of the situation. It really isn’t the numbers, but the quality. But the team will need bodies. They’ll find them somehow.

    Reply
    1. John

      Isn’t this what happened at IU? I go to all the games and I never thought those that have announced leaving to other programs were as good as the other players. My private name for Hollawell was butterfingers. I thought he’d get better in that regard this year but he didn’t/

      Reply
  16. Bret

    Everyone can guess to why Austin really left. And he has to much class to ever say what really happened at his time Indiana. But his family knows and that is,all that matters. And he got his degree, Smart young man.

    Reply

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