Amid reports that Terrell Holloway has signed with Xavier, the other former Indiana commit who escaped his scholarship has set up visits to the four schools he is now considering.
Devin Ebanks, a 6-9 high-scoring wing out of New York City, will begin his visits this weekend with a trip to West Virginia. He’ll play in the Jordan Brand Classic all-star game a week later, then take weekend trips to Texas, then Rutgers before ending his tour on May 9 with a visit to the campus of the national runner-up, Memphis.
He plans on making a decision shortly after that visit.
Though Ebanks has been in contact with new Indiana coach Tom Crean, it looks like a re-commitment to Indiana is unlikely. Sources in New York say that Ebanks has been scared off by the unstable situation in Bloomington.
His AAU coach, Lawrence McGugins, said that Ebanks still loves the Indiana fans and appreciates the history of the university.
“It’s really just a shame what happened there,” he said. “This isn’t a fun process for us. There were a lot of strong ties there. But you only really get one chance to get this right, and we need to do what’s best.”
Ebanks was the highest ranked of Indiana’s 2008 recruits (Rivals considers him the No. 13 player in the country) and was expected to fill part of scoring void left by the departures of D.J. White and Eric Gordon.
Indiana’s incoming class is now down to forward Tom Pritchard and guard Matt Roth, neither of whom are ranked by Rivals.com.
Former Indiana basketball recruit Terrell Holloway has told Rivals.com recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer that he has decided to play at Xavier.
Holloway had signed a letter of intent with Indiana, but was released from that commitment after the resignation of Kelvin Sampson. The 6-1, 175-pound guard is rated as the No. 100 player in his class by Rivals.com. He played last season at Harmony Community School in Cincinnati while working to qualify academically to play at a Division I school.
Calls to Holloway this morning went unanswered.
Bill Lynch got on his players during and after practice Tuesday to say he wanted more effort — he wanted players to sprint, not jog, during drills.
After practice, Lynch was asked if having a practice that’s not as intense as he’d like here and there is a part of spring practice because players have to practice day after day with no opponent to prepare for. Lynch responded that players feel that way sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you can accept it.
“If you’re going to be a good football team, you have to practice hard every day,” Lynch said.
The Hoosier coach said he’s confident he’ll see a better effort out of his team during its next practice.
Lynch was also asked about which of Indiana’s players that haven’t previously seen much playing time have caught his eye this spring.
Lynch said that sophomore offensive linemen Cody Faulkner, Alex Perry and Jarrod Smith have played well, and that freshman Dennis Ziegler has shown promise.
The 6-3, 250-pound Zeigler is playing right tackle on the first string because of injuries to others. With his size and good feet, Zeigler has the physical potential to be a force on the line if he can stay healthy to get reps in practice and improve.
Lynch also mentioned tight end Max Dedmond, running back Zach Walker, receiver Colin Taylor, defensive tackle Kyle Kozak and linebacker Darius Johnson among the less experienced players whoâ€™ve grabbed his attention this spring.
I’ve got the onerous duty this afternoon of sitting in Memorial Stadium to watch football practice. It was supposed to rain this afternoon, I thought, but right now it’s sunny and feels like it’s about 70.
Starting left tackle Rodger Saffold is in uniform and practicing for the first time this spring, which is a big addition to Indiana’s badly banged up o-line.
Free safety Nick Polk is also back in action today. Polk missed the first few practices with a hamstring strain and was held out of Saturday’s scrimmage as a precaution.
Some random observations in watching drills:
- Chris Phillips, IU’s only experience cornerback, is having a good practice. He’s prevented a couple of completions by being all over a receiver downfield and just picked off Ben Chappell.
- Matt Ernest, who looked so good in practice as a true freshman last year, has struggled the last few days. He’s dropped three or four passes that I’ve seen. He currently is working with both the No. 1 and No. 2 offenses.
- The absence of James Hardy, Andrew Means and James Bailey at WR is very apparent in watching IU’s offense practice. We’re seeing more drops and fewer big plays.
- Bill Lynch just yelled at the team for not running fast enough in a kickoff coverage drill designed to practice avoiding blockers downfield. “This is not a walk-through,” he hollered. “Pick it up!” They’re running faster now.
- Chappell just hit a well-covered Ernest with a pass on the right sideline, but Ernest fumbled it out of bounds.
- Chris Banks, who has looked better than last year when his hands were shaky, just made one of the most spectacular catches of the spring so far. He dove over a defender, CB Donnell Jones, to catch a 20-yard pass from Mitchell Evans that had both the offense and defense applauding.
- Chappell continues to be very accurate with his passes. He isn’t going downfield often, but he is right on target.
New Indiana coach Tom Crean eventually showed up at the Eric Gordon announcement. He had been stuck in meetings all day, he said, and was just beginning to assess the situation with the program.
He refused to go into details, but said there was a lot of work to do. He was asked about reports coming out of the Final Four that some of Indiana’s players are having severe academic troubles. Again, he couldn’t discuss them but did not refute the report.
He was not ready to give an update on Armon Bassett or Jamarcus Ellis, the two players who were dismissed from the team a week ago but hope to return.
Crean was accompanied by Bennie Seltzer, who was his assistant at Marquette the past two years. Prior to that, Seltzer was an assistant for nine years at Oklahoma under Kelvin Sampson, for whom he had played four seasons at Washington State.
Seltzer said he couldn’t discuss his job situation but did say that he had not been named to the coaching staff.Â Crean and Seltzer were also spotted together a few times at the Final Four.
Crean said he didn’t have any updates on his staff, but was trying to move quickly in putting it together. He’ll need them to start recruiting ASAP.
Jeff Meyer, the current Indiana assistant coach, said he had not had a chance to speak to Crean about anything related to his employment status. He’d only had time to congratulate Crean on getting the job.
The other assistant coach, Ray McCallum, and his family were also in attendance, but I did not catch up with Ray.
Also of interest: Rob Pelinka, a former Michigan basketball player and current NBA agent, was in attendance. Gordon has not yet signed with Pelinka and his father, Eric Gordon Sr is still evaluating options on that front. He did say that Pelinka, whose most notable client is Kobe Bryant, is “in the lead.”
He’s thanking us all for being here.
Specifically, he’s thanking his friends and coaches.
Now, he says it: he’ll be entering the NBA draft. He’s entering “to compete at the highest level, not for the fame or the money.”
J.D. Campbell, the director of media relations for Indiana athletics, is making the introductions. There’s going to be a couple of speakers.
First, Ira Jaffee. He’s the director of the JCC. I spoke with him a few weeks ago for a story.
Jaffee tells the story of the Gordon’s being members here for 20 years, then introduces Jeff Meyer.
Meyer, you may recall, coached Eric Gordon Sr. at Liberty.
Turns out that the Gordons invited Meyer over for dinner when he took a job at Butler a few years ago. After the dinner, they came across the street to the gym here to watch E.J., then in fifth grade, play basketball.
“He was knocking down the 3, he was using the glass off the dribble,” Meyer says.
Meyer says that Gordon has had a great attitude during a difficult year. “E.J. could probably write a book about the year we had,” he jokes.
“Where ever you go, and I’m sure you’ll be traveling, you’ll always be an Indiana Hoosier,” Meyer says. “And you’ll always be, in my humble opinion, a great Hoosier.”
We’re about to get started. Assistant coach Jeff Meyer is here, seated with Gordon at the podium. New coach Tom Crean is on his way.
The Gordons have arrived, including E.J.
A lot of kids in this situation would be working the room, owning the event. I’ve seen that happen before. Gordon looks sort of nervous, almost out of place at his own celebration.
About 100 people have gathered in a conference room here at the Jewish Community Center in northern Indianapolis. There’s an IU apron on the table and an IU background for the cameras to film.
A few kids here in Eric Gordon jerseys.
No sign of Gordon or his family yet.
I am like you in this way, at least: as I watch the basketball games tonight my mind will flash back to September and the promise Indiana’s team seemed to have then.
Not because I am a fan. My job precludes me from that. But if you choose to make your living writing about sports, you must have some reason for caring about the games they play. Going into this year, I had this reason: I wanted to know what it took to become a truly elite team. I remember talking to some of my mentors and friends about the great teams they had covered. What made them great? When could you tell they would be great? What set them apart?
Say what you will about Kelvin Sampson â€” and many have and will continue to do so â€” but the guy knew how to motivate players. That seemed like it would be enough, given that he had Eric Gordon and D.J. White to work with. The rest of the ingredients didn’t seem to matter all that much; everyone just figured they would come along.
Of course, I learned nothing about what it takes to become a special team this year. I learned, mostly, about ruin. What causes it and what it causes.
Many of you who are subscribers to the Web site may have already read this series on Indiana’s season, but I thought I would offer it here for those who hadn’t. Because as much as everyone is ready to move on to another new era, there is no easy, instant escape from the events of the past year.
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