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From Zero to Hero? Indiana’s Brief History of Jersey #0

For more than 100 years, the history of the jersey number zero at Indiana was just that — zero, nothing, no one, zilch, nada.  It is somewhat surprising to learn that no one had ever worn the jersey number zero at Indiana since the program started in 1901 until a walk-on made the leap in 2009.

Today we take a fun look back at the very brief history of the jersey number zero at IU in light of the suggestion on social media that class of 2018 five-star recruit Romeo Langford will sport that number next season.

KORY BARNETT – THE PIONEER 

Kory Barnett joined the Indiana program in 2008 on the heels of the Kelvin Sampson debacle.  He started with jersey number 30 and wore that for one of the toughest years in Indiana basketball history.  Perhaps as an acknowledgement of where the program was starting from under new head coach Tom Crean, Barnett chose jersey number zero for the 2009-10 season, becoming the first Hoosier to ever don the goose egg.

As is to be expected from a walk-on, the jersey number seemed appropriate at times, as Barnett didn’t score a point until his junior season at Indiana.  One thing that was never near zero was his GPA.  Barnett was a three time Academic All-Big Ten recipient.

Barnett was originally recruited by Sampson and chose to stay with the program under Crean as a preferred walk-on.  He is from Rocheter, Indiana and is now the director of basketball operations at UCLA.

IT TAKES A SPECIAL CHARACTER…

Former Michigan guard and Indiana native Zack Novak wore the zero at the same time as Barnett.  At the time he had this to say about wearing the number zero:

“You kind of have to have a quirky personality to wear zero,” Novak said. “I think it fits me. I’m kind of different, I guess.

“You’ve got to be a little bit crazy to wear zero.”

The next Hoosier to wear #0 was more worthy of that description.

WILL SHEEHEY – THE RENEGADE

Sheehey had to lie in wait for Barnett to graduate, forced to wear a pesky “1” in front of his cherished zero until the 2012-13 season.  He wore number 10 from 2010-2012.

Once given the opportunity, Sheehey left no doubt about his zero-worthiness:

Sure, Sheehey had other great moments at IU, like his game winner in the 2012 NCAA tournament against VCU, and this legendary dunk as a freshman:

But that gun show at Mackey.  Wow.  The stuff of zero legends.

MAX BIELFELDT – THE REBEL

After a one year hiatus, the jersey number zero reappeared on the back of graduate transfer Max Bielfeldt.  Now we know what you are thinking.  There is nothing quirky or crazy about Bielfeldt.  He is the stereotypical charming, clean-cut, nice guy, right?

Ah, but did you forget about how he arrived at Indiana?  Bielfeldt was essentially cut from the Michigan team by John Beilein before his final year of eligibility.  Moreover, Beilein had the audacity to attempt to block his former player from attending another Big Ten school.  In true “zero” fashion, Bielfeldt had none of it.  With the help of the Big Ten he ultimately transferred to IU and helped lead the Hoosiers to a Big Ten title.

(Photo: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

During that 2015-16 season, Indiana had one of its more memorable in-game runs in program history on the night of Bielfeldt’s return to Michigan to play the Wolverines.  In the 18 minutes Bielfeldt played in that game, his Hoosiers outscored Michigan by 25.  The run?  Indiana 28, Michigan……0.

CURTIS JONES – THE MYSTERY MAN

Quirkiness can take many forms.  How is this for quirky — in Curtis Jones’ first game as a freshman he scored 15 points against Kansas, including three big 3-pointers to help lead Indiana to a 103-99 overtime victory.  This number zero was surely on his way to 3 zeroes, as in a 1,000 point scoring career at Indiana.

That Kansas game would be his career high at Indiana.  He only broke into double digits two other times and transferred in December of his sophomore year.

Well played number zero.

ROMEO LANGFORD???

Who?  Could it be?  Surely the soft-spoken Hoosier hero isn’t going to dip his toe into the murky waters of the number zero?

What could he be thinking?  Does it signify that despite all of the hype, he has accomplished nothing and must earn his opportunities at the next level?

While probably not his intent, it likely does reflect the number of full calendar years that he will spend in Bloomington.

Perhaps it signifies how many games he thinks Rick Pitino wants him to play at Indiana, or how much credibility Bob Kravitz has left?

Langford has earned the reputation as a practical jokester.  Perhaps he just put this out on social media to see where it goes, with no real intent of actually wearing the number.  He seems to have already deleted the Instagram post that created the buzz. That sort of clever ruse would certainly be zero-esque.

One thing seems certain.  Whatever number Langford chooses to wear at Indiana will take on an entirely new significance in the annals of Hoosier history — just like zero did today — at least while it lasted.

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