Tom Crean on Evaluating Talent and the Importance of Eye Contact in Recruiting

Listen to The Upside podcast episode 12 with former Marquette and Indiana coach Tom Crean


In addition to being one of the most well-known college coaches in the country over the course of the last decade, Tom Crean has also proven to be an exemplary talent evaluator having identified and recruited the likes of Dwyane Wade, Victor Oladipo, and O.G. Anuby when they were both underrated and under-recruited.

In this episode of The Upside, Crean talks about what he prioritized in the evaluation process while also detailing some of his skill development programs. He goes on to discuss his relationships with some of his players, his thoughts on shot selection, and how much he has learned this year as an analyst for ESPN.

What he looks for when recruiting 

“Everybody has something, but I think the commonality of all the guys that have the most success and especially the ones who were the under-valued, under-recruited, not well-known guys…if there was a humbleness about them, you could easily talk to them. When you saw them play, there were flashes that just said if we can coach this we could get this out of them and a lot more often than they are doing it now and then some.”

Recruiting Dwyane Wade

“It was the first time I ever talked to him – June 21st of 1999. There’s certain moments and times you never forget and that’s one of them…and there were only certain times you could call Dwyane – not because he had rules but because he was only around a phone at certain times.”

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Indiana Pacers Guard Victor Oladipo

“Victor Oladipo had incredible eye contact at the age of 16-17. Just incredible. And somebody might say well what does that have to do with it…it has everything to do with it.  Because he listens, not only is he aware but he’s caring, he can converse, he’s respectful.”

What did Dwyane Wade mean by Tom Crean’s “power of observation”

“You’ve got to believe in your vision for them and in them… enough to stick with that when everybody else around them and maybe even themselves do not see it, and to me that is the essence of coaching.”

The transition from coach to ESPN Analyst

“I really wanted to come from a place of improvement. Who’s getting better and why, who’s not getting better and what do I see, what’s holding them back…and then how would I attack them, what do they need to be better at, but what do they do really well on both sides as a team and individuals”

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