James Blackmon Jr. began Indiana’s resurgence when he gave Tom Crean and the Hoosiers a verbal commitment on Sept. 7, 2010.
Blackmon had yet to play his first high school game, but Crean & Co. took a chance, desperately needing in-state recruiting momentum and picking up a player who would wind up being ranked by just about everyone in the Top 50.
Nineteen days later, Indiana received another pledge, this time from a skilled power forward originally from Canada by the name of Trey Lyles.
Hoosier Nation rejoiced. Boy, did they ever. Two young, highly regarded players who would help turn the fortunes of a storied program that had won just 16 games over Crean’s first two seasons.
Cody Zeller would commit to the Hoosiers two months later, and Indiana was back. Well, not quite -- but Blackmon and Lyles helped give the program credibility, and Zeller once again made it cool for an elite prospect to go to IU.
Zeller is gone, leaving after a two-season career that included consecutive Sweet 16 appearances. Crean has brought in a terrific freshman class this season that includes Noah Vonleh and Troy Williams, and Blackmon and Lyles were supposed to finally arrive in Bloomington a year from now to not only sustain the recent success but also put the Hoosiers in prime position to win their sixth national title.
There’s only one problem. These guys didn’t stick with their commitments. Lyles did exactly what Crean and his staff had anticipated, becoming one of the most skilled power forwards in the nation. He decommitted on Aug. 8, 2012 amid growing speculation that he'd ultimately land at Kentucky. Lyles recently trimmed his list to UK and Louisville.