Jared Jeffries is in town for his annual basketball camp, his attempt at giving 50 or so area youths the kind of specialized (and free) instruction that he did not receive before he became older, taller and highly-recruited.
But while the former North and IU star was in Bloomington, he did sit down for a chat with new Hoosiers coach Tom Crean.
“I saw some of the younger kids plays,” Jeffries said. “I talked to him, talked to the assistants. They couldn’t have hired a better person for this job. He understands what Indiana is about, he understands what Indiana basketball is about.
“You couldn’t have hired a better person.”
When Kelvin Sampson was hired, Jeffries was quoted as being in favor of the move. It’d be easy to back away from Sampson now, considering all that has happened, but Jeffries did not.
“He’s not a bad man,” Jeffries said. “The situation that happened was unfortunate. He tried to bring a winner here, put together a pretty decent team. He just didn’t do it the right way. I wish him the best.
“This university is strong enough that they’ll get over this. They’ll get past it.”
As to his future with his current team, the Knickerbockers of New York City, Jeffries seemed legitimately excited. He has reason to be, since his career nearly flat-lined with former Knicks coach/general manager Isiah Thomas around. With Thomas gone, Jeffries’ career has a second chance.
New Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni is known for teaching a brand of basketball that deemphasizes position and instead focuses on skill and matchups. Boris Diaw, considered too slow to play guard but too small (at 6-foot-8) to play inside, flourished under D’Antoni. Jeffries could be the next reclamation project.
An assistant coach will meet up with Jeffries next week in Sarasota, Fla. (where Jeffries makes his off-season home). He’ll head back to New York in September, about 20 days, he said, before the season begins.