But there's more to it than winning games on college basketball's big stage.
Jake Kelly, the Indiana State guard who transferred from Iowa, contends the talent gap between big schools and small schools is shrinking rapidly. Morehead State's Demonte Harper credits the changes to improved mid-major coaching.
And Purdue coach Matt Painter, who worked previously at Southern Illinois, thinks experience has become the great equalizer.
"Some of the guys who aren't as highly recruited are able to grow into their (college) role," Painter said. "It's not as important how good you are when you're 17 or 18 — unless you're one of those guys leaving early. For most guys, it's really about how good you are at 21 or 22 or even later than that and some of those mid-major guys really develop."
Bird has seen it.
He remembers a 6-foot-1 Scottie Pippen going to Central Arkansas so he could play guard and be the team manager. Between his senior year of high school and freshman year of college, Pippen grew two inches. He grew two more inches during his sophomore year, moving to forward. Eventually, he became Michael Jordan's sidekick during the Chicago Bulls dynasty.
The stories are as legendary as Bird's allegiance to small-town USA.
"Yep, I sure do," he said when asked about having a special place in his heart for players from smaller schools. "Truthfully, I try to get them in here and give them a workout.
But to Bird, this is all business. Last year, he took Fresno State's Paul George in the first round, and if the draft projections are right, Bird could go that route again.
Some have the Pacers taking Fredette or Faried with the No. 15 pick.
They're not the only guys Bird is interested in.
"Look, if these guys are playing with a real good player, a guy like Jimmer, he probably makes them look better than what they are," Bird added. "But they look at how Jimmer works and they get a lot of confidence and they get better, it brings a lot of confidence to the whole team. That's what you're seeing."
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