The normally talkative head coach paused, trying to regain his train of thought as the nearly full Assembly Hall chanted “Ga-ry Har-ris.”
After apologizing for interrupting the raucous crowd, Crean continued on with his introductions in what is undoubtedly the biggest recruiting weekend of the year for the Hoosiers.
The headliner of a plethora of prospective student athletes was Harris, the No. 25 ranked player in the Class of 2012, according to rivals.com.
Many believe Harris is the final piece of one of the nation’s top-ranked recruiting classes.
Harris made his official visit to IU this weekend. It was the second of four officials that Harris has planned, having already visited Purdue on Oct. 1 and scheduled to make trips to Kentucky on Saturday and Michigan State on Nov. 5.
A crowd of 16,100 at Assembly Hall greeted Harris and the other recruits doing their respective official and unofficial visits.
Compared to last year’s season attendance numbers, only nine schools in the NCAA averaged more fans for their games than the people who showed up for the Hoosiers’ Saturday night practice.
“If we play as close to as well as you guys cheer, we’ll be cutting down nets very soon,” Crean said.
All five commits from IU’s 2012 class took in Saturday night’s festivities.
Guests brought in for Hoosier Hysteria included former IU basketball players Eric Gordon and D.J. White. ESPN’s Bill Raftery emceed the event.
Five years ago, it was Gordon in Harris’ place as the can’t-miss in-state shooting guard prospect making a visit to Hoosier Hysteria. The 2007 Mr. Basketball went on to commit to IU, and even though he only stayed for one season, Gordon said it’s always fun to come back to Bloomington.
“(There are) not too many fans like Indiana fans,” Gordon said. “They always remember you, and the fans are great supporters here.”
Taking a seat in the front row under the north basket, Harris chatted with IU commits Collin Hartman (2013) and Yogi Ferrell (2012) throughout the evening.
The official visit to IU comes a night after Harris set a school record in receiving yards (189) at a Hamilton Southeastern football game.
Harris has offers from a number of major college football programs, but it is expected he will play only basketball in college and sign his national letter of intent during the fall signing period from Nov. 9 to 16.
It was announced Saturday that IU has sold 7,601 of its 7,800 student season tickets allotment. The student section is the largest in the nation, and the 7,601 tickets are 1,500 more than were sold last season.
Raftery said he couldn’t believe the support from the Hoosier faithful as fans lined up outside of Assembly Hall hours before gates opened.
“The student body has really done a great job of hanging in while they get everything straightened out,” Raftery said. “It’s crazy how basketball is so big here and so important.”
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