The Indiana basketball team was ranked number one and having a great year when Bobby Knight let everyone know about Ivan Renko, a recruit from Yugoslavia.
It’s April Fools Day, but it’s not a time to fool anybody this year. Instead, let’s look back at a time when the General fooled most of college basketball.
Indiana was cruising throughout the 1992-93 season, going 28-3 in the regular season including 17-1 in the Big Ten en route to a championship. They were able to take down the mighty Fab Five of Michigan twice by one point and also swept hated rival Purdue.
Their only losses on the year were to Kansas twice, Kentucky, and Ohio State. It was a great year that unfortunately ended in the Elite Eight to the Jayhawks, but one in which the Hoosiers spent a few weeks at number one.
The Hoosiers were a very good team and had a great recruiting class coming in the next year, but apparently Bobby Knight wanted to have some fun with the college basketball community and let everyone know he had a 6’8″ player coming in from Yugoslavia. His name was Ivan Renko and he had let Indiana know he was planning on enrolling and playing basketball for the Hoosiers.
Knight played this up so much that some recruiting services actually started to rate him and write up blurbs about him without ever knowing anything about him. Of course, they didn’t know anything about him, because it turned out he wasn’t real.
The real reason Knight made him up can still be questioned, but many have said he was trying to confuse recruiting experts and for a time it seemed to have worked. Knight would say that because of the unrest in Yugoslavia he couldn’t talk much about him and it seemed to appease many of the people questioning the reality or Renko.
Many will say Knight was going crazy and wasn’t thinking straight, but maybe he was completely in his right mind. Knight had Hoosier fans excited and recruiting experts running around trying to figure this out.
It may have been a crazy thing to do, but for a while, Knight was on top of the game and fooling a lot of people. Whether you liked what he did or not, he played one of the biggest pranks in college basketball history.