Indiana Daily Student

3 seniors honored, reflect on time at IU

They took the ball down the court for the final time in Assembly Hall this season, and though the IU men’s basketball team was seconds away from a 67-58 loss to Ohio State on Senior Night, the students in the general admission section weren’t done just yet.

“Thank you, seniors,” they chanted in unison.

A video tribute for Derek Elston, Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford began to play on the jumbo-tron with The Wanted’s “I’m Glad You Came” playing in the background, and IU fans were reminded exactly what this senior class brought to the struggling IU program four years ago.

“Their efforts have been instrumental to bringing Indiana back to the nation’s elite programs,” IU Assistant Athletic Director Chuck Crabb said.

IU Coach Tom Crean started off the speeches, noting that when he was courting the three members of this year’s senior class, he didn’t really have any success to promise them.

“Really what we were selling them was the tradition of Indiana,” Crean said. “When we started here, we didn’t have that on the court, but we had the tradition.

“They could not only come in as part of the tradition, but they could come in and make their own, and I think they’ve done that.”

Crean first introduced Elston, the senior who may have lacked the impressive stats on the court, but Crean said there was no one else more instrumental to impacting his teammates off the court.

“He is defined as a leader in this program,” Crean said. “None of the three of them walked into leadership … They had to create their own, and that’s really hard.
“Derek Elston takes a back seat to no one when it comes to perseverance.”

Elston struggled through the end of his career at IU, plagued by a knee injury that surfaced before the start of his senior season. For several weeks, he took on the role of another assistant coach during practice in Cook Hall.

“I’m up here with two guys who came in with me,” Elston said. “We always said to the reporters we were going to be the group to bring it back. Everybody kind of looked at us like we were crazy.”

Hulls followed, the one of the trio who was recruited the least up until a magical AAU tournament during the spring of his junior year of high school at Bloomington South High School.  Luckily for Hulls, IU Associate Head Coach Tim Buckley was in the stands, and from there on, Hulls stayed another four years in Bloomington and became one of the most important players during the rebuilding process of IU

“We haven’t made a lot of great moves, but that was a great one, that was a big time move,” Crean said.

Hulls’ entire family came to Assembly Hall the night he committed to IU, including cousins, aunts and uncles that span across the country. He said that during his time at IU, his family members began creating more and more IU fans across the country, but nothing was more important during his IU career than family, Hulls said.

The Bloomington-native got very emotional when talking about his sisters, in particular. His younger sister, Kaila, a fellow IU basketball player, always gave him someone to compete with, and his older sister, Kati, was the one the family always looked to for anything about the team.

“They were always there for me, always believing in me, even when no one else would be,” said Hulls as he hesitated to wipe away tears from his face.

Watford finished up the ceremony with a thanks, in particular, to the IU students.

To them, he will always be remembered for the “Wat-Shot”, but he noted they had always been there, from the 10-win season to storming the court against Kentucky, and even after Tuesday’s loss.

Crean had the players cut down the nets after the speeches were complete, saying they deserved it for earning the share of the Big Ten title, along with the long road the seniors had traveled down.

But IU’s senior class isn’t quite satisfied yet.

“We’ve got more games to play,” said Elston, as he pointed to IU’s five NCAA Championship banners hanging across the gym from him. “In a few weeks, it’s time to go take care of something on that wall.”

Like what you're reading?

Get more award-winning content delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Recap.

Signup today!
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

Powered by Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2023 Indiana Daily Student