Illinois Football Daily Bullets

Illinois Basketball Daily Bullets

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Indiana's very own "Entourage" and what it means to college basketball

Well, it's been a few days now, and that has given me time to think about what basketball fans (especially Illini fans) shall forever refer to as "The Eric Gordon Mess." I'm not upset about him going to Indiana. Nope. That's his right as a free American, and I'm happy he's able to go where he wishes. The process that led him to change his decision is the topic of discussion here. I don't know much about Indiana's coach, Kelvin Sampson. But you have to ask yourself: what kind of person would smash apart the integrity of a legendary basketball program, in his maniacal pursuit of a single player? Yes, Sampson has shattered the integrity of the Indiana basketball program. Hold on a second! I'm not saying this because of the reason you might think. This might surprise you, but I actually think Sampson had every right to recruit the kid-- the situation at Indiana had changed, after all (with Mike Davis' departure). So Sampson was justified in trying to lure Gordon to Indiana. It's how he did it that is disturbing. No less than two-- that's right, TWO!!! -- individuals were hired on to the staff of the Indiana basketball program by Sampson this summer that had direct links to Eric Gordon. Sampson hired an assistant coach who played college ball with Gordon's dad. Okay, by itself, maybe just a coincidence. But then, Sampson hired Gordon's AAU coach to be his video coordinator! Now, there's absolutely nothing illegal about doing either of these hires. But to me, it's a move that plainly lacks integrity. It's telling a high school kid this: "Come to Indiana, and I'll let you bring your entourage with you, oh great one." Shouldn't he be saying this: "Come to Indiana, because we have a great program, a great system, great fans, and you'll get a world class education to boot." But that's not what Sampson did. Instead, he sold out the program's integrity, and bowed and scraped and hired until the kid relented and came to Indiana. It's sad, really. I always admired the Indiana program for standing out from the crowd, staying above the sleazy side of recruiting. Now, though he did nothing illegal, Sampson has chopped the legs of integrity out from under a legendary program. Sad, so sad. Well, this is the last I'll speak of this episode, thankfully. Let's move to the on-court struggles!

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