BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- New Indiana coach Tom Crean has signed six players to basketball letters of intent for his incoming class of 2009, considered one of the nation's top groups of recruits.
Still facing possible NCAA sanctions for recruiting violations under former coach Kelvin Sampson, the Hoosiers landed a 2009 freshman class ranked fifth nationally by Rivals.com and seventh by Scout.com.
"Our coaches worked extremely hard to build on relationships that we already had and to build new ones and continue to show people why Indiana was a perennial power year-in and year-out," Crean said Thursday, citing Indiana's tradition and the opportunity to play right away as major factors in attracting the recruits.
"Our coaching staff ... along with the rest of our staff show what can happen when you believe in something and are not afraid to work hard to make it better even when you are hamstrung with restrictions."
One of the six who signed is 6-foot-8 forward Derek Elston of Tipton High School, whose contact with a former IU assistant at a 2007 summer basketball camp was considered improper under NCAA rules.
"Derek deserves a lot of credit because he stayed loyal to Indiana through all the turmoil," Crean said. "As everyone knows, he committed to the previous staff and shortly after we got the job he came up to see us. He's the unsung hero of this class because people around the country have forgotten how good he is, because they haven't had a chance to see him."
Elston, who averaged 19.8 points and 11.2 rebounds as a junior, had knee surgery last spring and did not play over the summer.
The other IU recruits include hometown product Jordan Hulls, a 6-foot guard from Bloomington South High School, a signing Crean called a "no-brainer."
"We brought him over for an unofficial before I had ever had a chance to see him play. But after seeing him once and seeing numerous tapes, there was no question that we wanted to have him in the program. He can shoot the ball with deep range and he understands the game at a very high level," Crean said.
Hulls' grandfather, John Hulls, was on Bob Knight's staff at IU in the early 1970s.
The other signees are 6-8 Bobby Capobianco of Loveland, Ohio; 6-5 Maurice Creek of Chatham, Va.; 6-11 Bawa Muniru of Durham, N.C., a native of Ghana; and 6-7 Christian Watford of Birmingham, Ala.