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Bilal Batley contacted one former recruit for Indiana, according to a FoxSports.com report.
Batley was at Indiana for one season – 2007-08. He worked with former coach Kelvin Sampson at Oklahoma and eventually followed him to Indiana. However, the report alleges Batley was working for the Hoosiers during the 2006-07 season (when he was still at Oklahoma) and visited Nolan Dennis during that time.
From the report:
While working for the Hoosiers, Batley attended several high school games of then-highly touted recruit Nolan Dennis, a shooting guard out of Richland Hills, Texas, according to Richard Bacon, Dennis’ high school coach.
“Somehow or another they got real close,” Bacon said. “They spent a lot of time together. Bilal was at a lot of our games his sophomore year. I didn’t even know who he was until I saw him at our games.”
But Dennis had attended a Dynasty Elite Camp that Batley ran for top recruits just outside of Memphis in the summer of 2006 while Batley was in between jobs at Oklahoma and Indiana. It was also attended by Cousins, current North Carolina sophomores Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald, current Memphis freshman point guard Joe Jackson and current Portland Trailblazers rookie guard Elliot Williams.
Indiana eventually rose to the top of Dennis’ list, but Sampson resigned in February 2008 after an NCAA report charged him with five major rules violations, which included violating the telephone recruiting restrictions imposed on him for his actions at Oklahoma.
Dennis ended up committing to Memphis in July 2008 – about a month before Batley joined Calipari and the Tigers as assistant director of basketball operations/manager. While Batley was at Indiana and Memphis, Dennis said he received calls from him.
The story is largely about John Calipari, who Batley did work for and develop connections with DeMarcus Cousins that led the big man (now with the Sacramento Kings) to Memphis and then Kentucky. So Indiana is a small part of this and the timeline does not match up, but it is out there.
Batley did not have any connections to Tom Crean. Indiana was unavailable for comment.
Batley now coaches at Navarro Junior College.
Kevin Johns didn’t get the nod from Rivals.com as the best wide receivers coach in the Big Ten because his guys were the best at catching jump balls or at scorching their defenders on go routes.
In his four years coaching the wideouts at Northwestern, he never had the league’s tallest or fastest athletes, but Johns made the most out of a cerebral group and coached two receivers with ordinary athleticism by Big Ten standards to all-conference honors. Jeremy Ebert was a first-team pick this year and Zeke Markshausen was a second-teamer a season ago. (more…)
Former Indiana forward Daryl Thomas was at the McDonald’s All-American game on Wednesday night, serving as an assistant coach for the West team under legendary St. Joseph’s coach Gene Pingatore. I did a catch-up story on him for tomorrow’s paper. Here’s the opening excerpt from that.
CHICAGO — Daryl Thomas had no reason to believe he’d ever be this involved in this game again.
Like most participants, he treated the McDonald’s All-American Game he played in 1983 like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After all, you’re only a high school senior once. What could ever bring you back to it?
The answer, Thomas learned, is working for a legendary high school coach.
Thomas, a former Indiana player and 1983 McDonald’s All-American, returned to the event on Wednesday at Chicago’s United Center as an assistant coach. Gene Pingatore,, the renowned coach of St. Joseph High School in the Chicago suburb of Westchester, Ill., was selected as the head coach for the West team and brought his assistants to help coach the team.
That included Thomas.
“That’s an amazing experience,” the 45-year-old Thomas said. “You never think you’re gonna ever go back. After you play, you never think you’ll have the opportunity. But being around coach Pingatore, once again, good things happen.”
And here’s some audio from several interviews from that story, which includes Thomas and Pingatore talking about Cody Zeller.
You know the drill. At 11 a.m. today, Dustin and I will take your questions. We’re in Chicago now – hope to be in West Lafayette by then. So we’ll also be covering any rallies of less than a dozen people. Ask the questions and follow along here.
CHICAGO — It is well-known that big guys do not get much of a chance to showcase their skills during all-star games, including the McDonald’s contest.
And Cody Zeller had two older brothers, Luke and Tyler, to remind him of that after he was selected to play in the game.
But Zeller did start the game and find a way to contribute. He scored 10 points, had three assists and pulled down three rebounds in a losing effort for the West (the East won, 111-96, behind Kentucky-signee Michael Gilchrist’s 16 points and 12 rebounds).
Zeller started the game and was immediately active. Getting back fast on defense allowed him to get a few easy dunks and he had a turn-around jumper. He was also efficient, making 5-of-6 field goals.
“I just tried to work around the guards,” Zeller said. “The guard play was unreal since it was the McDonald’s All-American Game. I just tried to let the game come to me and I wasn’t expecting to do a whole lot being a big guy.”
Austin Rivers (Duke), Marquis Teague (Kentucky) and Myck Kabongo (Texas) were the dominant guards for the West; Zeller said they were not as selfish as past teams have been, but it was still a typical all-star game.
“We put in a few plays, but of course once we get out there it’s all the door,” Zeller said. “But it’s all good. It’s a fun game to be in, and an honor just to be here.”
Throughout the week Zeller had the chance to go up against other dominant big men like Anthony Davis (Kentucky) and Khem Birch (Pittsburgh). He said the week was a learning experience for him.
“Once again, strength,” Zeller said. “Finishing inside, stuff like that. You really find out your weaknesses really quick. I can take that and go home and work on my stuff.”
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