While the Indiana Hoosiers men's basketball program continues to fight its way out of the rubble of the 2008 implosion that was Kelvin Sampson. The players that left the team via transfer and/or dismissal like rats from a sinking ship are making a sizable impression on the national stage as the NCAA Tournament sits firmly in the spotlight.
Perhaps the most recognizable name, especially locally, is Armon Bassett, who starred for the Hoosiers before being dismissed from the team and bouncing about before settling in at Ohio University.
Heading into the Mid-American Conference Tournament the Bobcats looked like they would be fodder for the conference's elite seeds. Well, four wins later and an MVP award for Bassett and the Bobcats reached the nation's biggest tourney.
All Bassett did was score 25 points as Ohio defeated Akron 81-75 to receive the league's automatic NCAA bid. The Bobcats became the lowest-seeded team to win the league title as well.
The path also included a win at Ball State in the opening round before knocking off top-seeded Kent State, fourth-seeded Miami (Ohio) and then the Zips (24-10).
In the 85-77 victory against the Cardinals to open the tourney, Bassett posted 25 points, three rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals while going 11-of-13 from the free throw line. The junior guard then followed that up with a remarkable 38-point effort against Kent State in which he sank all 16 of his free attempts and hit four-of-eight 3-pointers, grabbed five boards and added seven assists. In the semifinal game against Miami (Ohio), Bassett added 28 more points and hit 15-of-18 free throws.
The automatic bid to the NCAA Tourney earned Bassett and his Bobcats a match-up with third-seeded Georgetown on Wednesday night. Ohio continued on its Cinderella path and Bassett found his way into the national spotlight as he scored 32 points and hit five-of-10 3-pointers to pace Ohio past the Hoyas, 97-83.
Ohio will try and continue the postseason magic today when they take on 14th-ranked Tennessee at 3:35 p.m.
Bassett's former Hoosier teammate, Jordan Crawford, now at Xavier, wasn't to be outdone in the NCAA Tourney spotlight.
The sixth-seeded Musketeers had a date with the Big Ten's Minnesota Golden Gophers on Friday afternoon and Xavier came away with a 65-54 victory.
The sophomore did a little of everything in the victory, scoring 28 points, adding six boards, five assists and a pair of steals. He also hit five 3-pointers in the win.
Xavier lost in the second round of the Atlantic 10 Tourney, 89-85 to Richmond, another NCAA Tourney squad. Crawford posted a 20-point, eight-rebound night in that loss.
This season, Crawford averaged a team-high 19.7 ppg. with 4.8 rpg. and just under three assists per contest.
Eli Holman, a 6'9 forward from California, migrated to Detroit where he sat out a season before making his mark with the Titans this season. He averaged 11.8 ppg. and just under nine boards per contest.
The sophomore was also big in the postseason for the Titans where he led his team to the semifinals before a 69-50 loss to Wright State.
Holman posted a 12-point, eight-rebound game in the loss. However, his some of his biggest performances of the season came in the two preceding games when Holman tallied 16 points and 11 boards against Green Bay and 21 points and 15 rebounds against Valparaiso.
Brandon McGee, transferred to Auburn where he sat out the 2008-09 season and did not play this season either.