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Former 4-star guard Offutt could join Hoosiers’ roster

In less than two days, IU lost two of its top recruiting targets, forwards Cody Larson and Will Yeguete, to Florida.

While IU is still in pursuit of an additional big man for the 2010 recruiting class, it has an opportunity to add a former four-star guard in the coming weeks — as a walk-on.

In 2008, rated Walter Offutt the No. 99 recruit in the nation, one spot ahead of then-IU signee Terrell Holloway. The Indianapolis native enrolled at Ohio State in 2008, nearly three years after giving an oral commitment to the Buckeyes.

After recovering from knee surgery, Offutt had an uneventful freshman campaign and expected to receive more playing time in his second year in Columbus, Ohio.

But Offutt found himself playing behind “four great guards” in Evan Turner, Jon Diebler, William Buford and David Lighty. To make matters worse, OSU coach Thad Matta rarely relied on his bench.

“If I would have went anywhere else, I probably would have been playing,” Offutt said Thursday.

Offutt did go somewhere else, and that was nearby Wright State. But after coach Brad Brownell took the job at Clemson, the Warren Central grad is back on the move and looking for a new home.

It might be with former OSU assistant and lead recruiter John Groce, now at Ohio University. Or, it could be 45 minutes from his Indianapolis home, in Bloomington.

“It just got public not too long ago that I was leaving, so possibly more schools might contact me,” Offutt said. “But as of right now, it’s between Ohio and Indiana.”

Having already played in the Big Ten, should Offutt opt to enroll at IU, he would join the Hoosiers as a non-scholarship player.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound combo guard said he has been talking with IU coach Tom Crean for a couple of weeks and is trying to make it to campus with his mother to discuss the specifics of a potential transfer to IU.

Offutt said he is “very familiar” with the school — he has many friends at IU; he played AAU ball with sophomore guards Matt Roth and Kory Barnett; and he knows the team’s academic adviser, Marni Mooney, who was previously at Warren Central.

He also followed IU basketball when Bob Knight was the head coach, he said.

The former Buckeye said the Big Ten is a “defensive-minded league” and it is “tough-minded individually.” Offutt possesses those qualities and has a strong work ethic, he said.

After all, upon signing with OSU, Matta called him a “tough combo guard” and expected Offutt to be “an outstanding defender.”

Offutt plans to finish the spring quarter at Wright State and anticipates having two years of eligibility left when all is said and done. However, he is unsure about whether he will be immediately eligible due to his second transfer.

Regardless, the one-time Mike Davis recruit said he hopes to make his decision by the first week of May.

While Offutt had a number of good things to say about Groce, he does have one major concern — the potential for the Bobcats’ coach to land another job.

“I know he’s probably not leaving this year, but the possibility that he may leave the next year or the next year after that — I don’t really want to be in a position where I’m stuck like I am now,” he said. “It’s going to contribute to my decision on where I pick.”

Perhaps this already had made an impact, as Offutt said he “might be a Hoosier” if things fall into the right place.

“I don’t know quite yet, but we’ll see,” he said. “I’m leaning towards Indiana as of right now.”

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