Indiana Basketball – Battle for Zach Gunn will show where Indiana stands for in-state recruits

by Kent Sterling

Joey Brunk pledging Butler was bad for Indiana, but Zach Gunn following suit would validate the tidal shift in recruiting among Indiana high school players.

Joey Brunk pledging Butler was bad for Indiana, but Zach Gunn following suit would validate the tidal shift in recruiting among Indiana high school players.

It may take a year or more for Zach Gunn to figure out for whom and where he wants to play college basketball, but the decision of the versatile wing from Hamilton Southeastern will show exactly where Butler and Indiana stand with in-state recruits.

Southport’s Joey Brunk recently voiced his commitment to Butler over Indiana and Purdue.  Brunk is ranked easily inside the to 100 high school basketball players nationally, and as a 6’10” forward with a ton of talent and high basketball IQ, he was coveted by virtually everyone.

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If Brunk was an anomaly, no big deal for the Hoosiers.  If Brunk was the first evidence of a tidal shift toward the Bulldogs for central Indiana recruits, expectations are going to change in Bloomington.

What would it say about the state of Indiana University basketball if the go-to spots for recruits became Butler and Purdue?  Nothing good.  If Indiana can’t recruit Indiana, how can it succeed in attracting the talent needed to succeed in the Big Ten and in the NCAA Tournament.

Those of us in Indiana tend to see the basketball world through a strange prism, but imagine if Wisconsin couldn’t recruit Wisconsin or Michigan State or Michigan couldn’t recruit Michigan.  There are a couple of programs who can consistently succeed by recruiting nationally and virtually ignoring their local regions, and Indiana isn’t one of them.  It isn’t Duke or Kentucky.  And it never was.

Indiana has always been best when it succeeded in recruiting the best in Indiana and the surrounding states, and if Gunn isn’t ready to pledge IU and Tom Crean, where does Indiana stand, and how can it succeed?

Gunn spoke to the Indianapolis Star’s Kyle Neddenriep about both Butler and Indiana, “I could see myself playing at Butler. I’ve always been a Butler fan. They do it the right way. They don’t have that star, star player, but get it done with the guys they have.”

His comments on Indiana are telling too.  People who remember the glory days of Indiana Basketball recall Isiah Thomas, Calbert Cheaney, Steve Alford, and even Jared Jeffries.  Here is who Gunn remembers, “I’ve watched IU since they had D.J. White and I’ve always been a fan. Crean has kept in contact and said he’d love to coach me. It’d be a dream to play there.”

D.J. White?  Oh no.  There has never been worse news for Indiana fans.  The brains of the best of the class of 2017 are cluttered with visions of D.J. White.  Nothing has ever spoken more directly about the IU Basketball brand among teens than that comment.

The players from the undefeated 1976 National Championship team are turning 60.  To people of Gunn’s generation, they are grandfatherly old dodgers – and in a basketball sense, complete irrelevant.

For those of you who haven’t see Gunn play, he is a talented and smart 6’7″ wing who can shoot, defend, and rebound.  He’s a good interview – funny and candid.  Gunn is exactly the kind of player Indiana fans yearn to watch.  He’s selfless and coachable.

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Ten years ago, Butler beating Indiana for an Indiana high school recruit it coveted was unthinkable.  In 2015, the Bulldogs aren’t taking a bus to Youngstown anymore for a Horizon League clash.  They are in the Big East flying to play Georgetown and Villanova.  And Indiana has been 16-22 in the past two Big Ten seasons without a postseason tournament win since beating Temple 58-52 in the round of 32 of the 2013 NCAAs.

Over twenty-eight years since the last NCAA Championship, one Big Ten regular season championship in 22 years, and zero Big Ten Tournament championships – ever – are tough to swallow.  But losing out on a recruit like Zach Gunn to Butler in a head-to-head battle would be worse – much worse.

21 thoughts on “Indiana Basketball – Battle for Zach Gunn will show where Indiana stands for in-state recruits

  1. Matterhorn

    Yea lets blaim it on the fact that players just don’t remember how good IU used to be. That is so old is nauseating. How about this the IU coach is awful. Why can’t you just say that. Let’s go play for a Gardner/Webb has been over playing in BTown.

  2. Matterhorn

    Butler does it the right way, you mean running off kids I mean Creaning kids, having no seniors, not playing any defense, doing blow by handshakes, taking players out for no reason at all, giving rings for sweet sixtenn years, cutting down the nets when you lose senior night at home, having no control of your players IS NOT DOING IT RIGHT? SINCE WHEN.

  3. j

    good points. both about butlers emergence as a legitimate basketball program that can now land top recruits and the fact that todays youngsters have grown up in such an extensive period of iu mediocrity they draw on mediocre examples to cite their fanhood. perhaps this guy was attempting to illustrate the amount of time he has been an Indiana fan as opposed to the talent over the years.

  4. Matterhorn

    If that is the case then the IU Athletic Department cough, cough, Fredddie the Clown Glass has done a poor job in marketing the IU tradition. The fact is Crean sucks will never go the final four with IU and will obviously never win a title, he Creans good kids and Indiana IHSAA coaches don’t like him anymore, why would they. When will this nightmare end.

    1. j

      agreed again. but its difficult to market a tradition that is so dated todays kids simply cannot relate. what tradition is to me or you is ancient history to a kid that can turn on tv and watch ten different college games from all over the country and see tom crean stumble through a press conference on you tube for comic relief. tradition doesn’t matter to kids today. Kentucky has won 8 titles. do kids go there for the tradition? duke? if they were they would stick around longer. they go there because they like the coaches and the coaches win.

      I agree with you in general. but tradition is an afterthought to athletes toaday.

  5. Andy

    Indiana University will always be the top school in Indiana period. Let’s not forget Yogi,Cody,Jordan, and the list goes on and on. The author is clueless the people commenting on this is clueless. One recruit chooses Butler and the sky is falling… Joey Brunk is slow and unathletic . I have watched him up close and personal. He would have been nothing more then a role player. He does not like or fit the style of basketball Crean plays. Is Crean the best coach… absolutely not but it’s who we have and we should support him and IU basketball. Glass is not going to get rid of him. It’s absurd and foolish to write an article over one recruit. Recent History proves other wise. We will never get all the Indiana kids it’s impossible in today’s world.

    1. Matterhorn

      What kind of “style” does Crean play, when you think of Indiana basketball under Crean what do you think of….bad defense. It’s called branding let me help you with that.

      Wisconsin: 4 year players whose coach gets the most out of
      Kentucky: one and done players whose goal it is to go to the NBA but also have a legitimate shot at a title
      Syracuse: 2-3 zone
      Michigan State: Team that will always peak at the right time
      Duke: 3-5 McDonald’s All-Americans always a threat
      Joey Brunk is unathletic… was Steve Alford. You really show how clueless you are pal.

      1. Andy

        Creans style is run and gun with little to no defense if you remotely watch IU you know this.. I get that Crean is not a great Coach. Lets get one thing straight as long as Glass is our AD Crean is going no where. These fans that say he gone after this year are clueless. He will finish out his contract and if Glass is the AD he will get an extension. Why because Crean will make the tournament this year and unfortunately Glass and the President of the University accept mediocre. Joe’s style is a slow fundamentally sound basketball. I’m not saying he is not good he just doesn’t fit Creans style of running and gunning. He doesn’t want to run up and down the court. Steve Alford was in a different time of basketball with a different style of basketball. Unfortunately only a few teams run that “style” and are extremely successful. College basketball is in a state of horrible basketball. Until Brad Stevens is introduced as our head coach it’s what we got. I don’t pound my chest and say we are great we have been bad for a long long time. My problem is one kid picks Butler and the sky is falling. Give me a break. I would be more concerned if he liked and played the style that IU plays. Is the style good or correct absolutely not. Is it the style IU fans are used too? No it’s not. And as far as IU is the top school in Indiana it is.. Until the other schools hang banners. The reality is all Indiana colleges are mediocre until they start winning championships. Runner ups don’t count.

    2. Nate

      I stopped reading at “Indiana University will always be the top school in Indiana period.” That’s like saying the Lakers will always be the top team in the NBA period. Just cause you win some championships 40 years ago means nothing today. Stop living in the past. Notre Dame, Butler, Purdue, and IU will all be legitimate top 15 teams this year. IU in no way represents basketball for the state of Indiana and hasn’t for at least a decade.

  6. Matterhorn

    BTw this IS Crean’s last year and I could not be happier. They will be a 4 seed and get beat by I don’t know A FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND TEAM WHO IS PROBABLY UNATHLETIC BUT KNOWS HOW TO PLAY BASKETBALL. See Ya, Tommy.

  7. Joel

    Most of IU fans think if you have basketball talent and are born here in Indiana it is the
    birthright of that kid to go to IU and play basketball. If not they are appauled,outraged etc..
    …the aggornace of most IU Basketball fans is sickening. Sorry to say , but the basketball
    sun does not rise and set in Bloomington, Indiana anymore….hard to swallow huh?

    It was mentioned “Indiana University will always be the top school in Indiana period. Let’s not forget Yogi,Cody,Jordan, and the list goes on and on. ”
    What? IU “currently” is not the top school in basketball. Maybe popularity/history wise. If they were ,where are all of their McDonalds All Americans and the in state kids? Yogi, Cody,Jordan, yeah nice college players but if they are being added to “the list” of top IU players they are far from it. Yeah they(IU fans) pounded they’re chest a few years ago and said “Were back”, yeah ,sure..IU arrogance again.

    The glory era of Bobby ball is not coming back anytime
    soon, so get used to it. IU fans can point to the banners, fine..thats history. What have they done lately… zilch.
    Kids dont care about tradition of 20-30 yrs ago. If I had a son who was being looked at by IU,Michigan State, Wisconsin,
    Butler,Notre Dame,Purdue, I would not guide him toward IU. I would let him make his own choice and it all depends on what fits
    but IU would be the last choice on that list. And no, I am no some disgruntled Purdue fan writing this. Really no allegiance to any
    in state school. I kinda jumped on the Bulter band wagon at the end of Barry Colliers tenure as coach. He built
    a program there that continues to grow. Take note everyone else.

    I have nothing against IU basketball(just the blind arrogance of a good part of the fan base), I just got the impression from after hearing Kent on the radio yesterday that he was “scoffing” at the notion that a player would choose Bulter over the beloved IU. Well, welcome to the real world, its happening and will continue.
    For the time being thats what is taking place and I dont see it stopping anytime soon.

    Sorry IU fans,deal with it… so in the meantime you can pull out old VHS tapes of the Bobby era and dream and live through that
    and point to the banners and remember how great they once were. That means nothing to these recruits.

    1. Matterhorn

      Not sure what team you are a fan of, but I only have one comment for you, ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS!!!!! IU is down now because they have a terrible coach that will soon change, it Alabama some time to find Nick Saban, but Indiana will get their man, mark it down. Pound YOUR chest now, pal, it wont last.

      1. Joel

        I am a basketball fan in general. I graduated from Ball State and I root for them. Like I mentioned ,I jumped on the band wagon of Butler when Barry was coaching and thats about it. I just enjoy the college sport. Big 10 is a fun conference to watch. I like the style of ball and the way Butler plays.

        I am not pounding my chest at anything. Just making an obeservations/opinion about what I have noticed from IU fans over a good part of my time growing up in this state…thats all. I have nothing against the program or players. I dont wish them any ill will at all. Maybe they will come back, that would be great for the state of basketball in Indiana. The more competion the better. But if Crean does not do it this year, he shold be shown the door along with the man who gave him and Kevin Wilson their jobs. Fred Glass seems like a nice guy, but someone has to be accountable.

  8. j

    will someone leave their thoughts on this: what happens if Indiana makes the sweet sixteen and yogi graduates Williams Blackmon and Bryant go pro?

    most people seem to think crean needs a sweet sixteen to keep his job. but if he does that and the core of the team leaves he is left rebuilding and hoping for a tournament appearance the next season.

    obviously this is all speculation but it is a very possible situation. I watched a big ten replay of iowa at Indiana from march last night along with some other games recently.

    im calling yogi ferrel out as selfish. it was a big clue when he planned to hold a huge meeting at a lavish restaurant to announce he was returning but watching some old games with less emotion is pretty revealing. yogi ferrel is a great basketball player. but I doubt he is as good a teammate.

    so crean has a good showing in the tournament and is left rebuilding…again. then what?

    1. Pauly Balst

      I agree. My immediate reaction is “what if Indiana makes round of 32 and Cody Zeller goes pro?”. Well we have 3-4 years of nothing then you ask the same question about Yogi.

      Crean is not and will not be the answer. As of March, this became a FRED GLASS problem. He is the one not taking action on an ineffective coach while the IU brand withers.


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