Gordon not ready to make college choice

Lots of interest in this story today, so here it is for those who haven’t seen it:

Gordon not ready to make college choice
Eric Sr. says his son not ready to make decision between Indiana and Illinois yet

by Chris Korman
331-4353 | ckorman@heraldt.com
September 19, 2006

Eric Gordon Sr. swears his son, a high school senior who happens to be a much sought-after shooting guard, is just another 17-year-old kid.

To prove the point, there’s this: Eric Gordon won’t announce his college choice and allow the fans of Indiana and Illinois to exhale their held breaths until his mother Denise has seen both campuses.

“He can’t just go making decisions without his mother knowing where he’s going to be,” Eric Gordon Sr. said Monday with a laugh.

So the whole Gordon family will come to Bloomington this weekend to visit campus and watch the football game between Indiana and Connecticut. They visited Champaign and Illinois last weekend.

There’s no set date for making a final decision, but Eric Gordon Sr. said he’d like his son to be able to concentrate on his senior season at North Central.

Doug Mitchell, the head coach at North Central, has been talking with Gordon and helping him decide which program suits him best, basketball-wise.

“Both are great schools with great coaching staffs,” Eric Gordon Sr. said, “but only one is the best fit for E.J. (Eric Junior)”

Gordon, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound guard ranked No. 2 in the class of 2007 by Scout.com, verbally committed to Illinois last year but began considering Indiana when Kelvin Sampson took over in the spring.

“Coach Sampson recruited him when he was at Oklahoma, but E.J. has always been accustomed to being near his family,” Eric Gordon Sr. said. “It was just too far, so we didn’t even give it a thought.

“Then he came here and we said, ‘Oh, that’s something to consider.’ ”

It didn’t take long for the two sides to begin talking, since two close friends of Eric Gordon Sr. are part of Sampson’s staff. He’s known Ray McCallum since high school and played for Jeff Meyer at Liberty.

“It was a mutual decision to start talking again,” he said. “We all thought it was something we should look into.”

A trip by Eric Gordon and his father to watch one of Sampson’s camps in Bloomington created an uproar – at least in the world of fan message boards – and led to many national columnists writing about the situation.

The younger Gordon hasn’t let the situation affect him much, his father said. His only complaint is that he can’t leave the house without someone asking him where he’s going to go.

“He’s just another high school kid who wants to be able to go and live his life,” he said. “Whatever he does, it gets read into. It’s like a civil war. He can’t do this and he can’t do that without one side getting angry.”

Indeed, when Gordon visited Bloomington over Labor Day weekend with Chicago recruit Derrick Rose, fans flocked to Assembly Hall to catch a glimpse of the pair.

If nothing else, Gordon’s decision to re-examine his original decision has stoked a Big Ten rivalry into mid-season form.

Sampson, already under heavy scrutiny for NCAA violations he committed while at Oklahoma, has been criticized by fans for trying to steal another man’s recruit.

The Gordons have been called unfaithful attention-mongers, among other things not fit to print, by many fans.

Gordon Sr. said he has tried to deflect the pressure brought on by intense media coverage and rabid curiosity from fans from getting to his son. He doesn’t mind being painted as the villain if it allows his son to make a decision he’s comfortable with.

“I’m more than happy to take the blame,” he said. “A lot of this has been self-inflicted, but I just wanted to make sure that my son could have the time and space to make the right decision.

“I want him to have no concerns. He can’t go to Illinois and then think, ‘Oh, man, I should have checked out Indiana.’ And he can’t go to Indiana and think, ‘I didn’t know it would be like this, I should have checked it out more.’ That’s what I’m trying to avoid.”

28 comments

  1. How many fairytales have been written about someone being forced to give up a dream and change paths, only to find an even better dream open up for them? How many high schoolers have decided to switch colleges in their senior year? Add to that the pressure of having to pick the best place to launch your career as well as the emotions of leaving your family behind. I wish all fans, both IU and UI alike could switch roles and put themselves in the Gordons shoes. Let EJ and his parents make the best decision for their family and then support them no matter what. Though I hope the IU glass slipper fits, I wish them the best regardless of which college they choose.

  2. I agree with Tyson, I hope there is no bad blood no matter what college he ends up picking (IU PLEASE!!!). Everyone should remember he is just a 17 year old kid.

  3. Re: the other Kyle: Its easy to say that he’s just a 17 year old kid when you want him to come to your school.

  4. One comment that EJ has made regaridng his regard for Illinois is Bruce Weber and his ability to get guards ready for the NBA.

    If that is the case, why is this even an issue right now? Who has Sampson gotten ready for the NBA? Hollis Price? Ummmm…………….no. Ebi Ere? Ummmmm………………….no.

  5. Gordon would have never committed to the Illini if Indiana had “anyone but Davis” coaching them.

    EJ’s been an IU fan his whole life, his parents and coaches are IU people, and once Davis was let go this was all set into motion.

    I feel bad for Weber bc its really no fault of his. EJ’s just a hometown kid that wants to play in his homestate for his favorite school where all of his friends are at.

    Since Davis is gone, now he can.

  6. I don’t think it is very honorable for a Sampson to try to get a recruit to break “his word” while he is verbally committed to another school. Sampson should have done the honorable thing and told EJ to open his recruitment instead of doing all of this behind the scenes. And, it appears downright shady to hire a friend of EJ’s Dad as well as EJ’s AAU coach regardless of their credentials.

    If Mike Davis was the only reason EJ didn’t choose IU, fine. Let that be everyone’s excuse… BUT if that was the case, EJ should have decommitted from Illinois immediately instead of stating multiple times that he was solid with Illinois. There are many quotes of him stating as such.

    Re-evaluating your position due to a change in circumstances is one thing, But this re-evluation should have happened in June so that one program isn’t left scrambling to fill an open scholarship. No matter what he decides now, there will clearly be bad blood between programs.

    A man is only as good as his word. If we can’t teach our children to live up to their promises, and that they only need honor legal documents, then we deserve all of the ridiculous lawsuits in the future.

  7. I just hope that Eric makes the decision, whatever it may be, that is best for HIM……..not the best for his friends and neighbors. Best of luck, Eric.

  8. EJ didnt officially decommit bc that would mean every school would be back on him and calling him.

    And even if EJ had “reopened” his recruitment officially, do you really think Bruce Weber wouldnt wait this out? He’s not going to hand out another scholarhip, when he’s in the top 2 for the top shooting guard in the entire class.

  9. So Joseph, are you implying that Verbal Committments are merely place holders to keep other recruiters from calling you?
    It sure didn’t stop Sampson from contacting him (mutual contact is both ways). A verbal committment is a promise that you are going to sign with a certain school. If at any point you decide to start looking into other schools, you are no longer committed, and you need to make that clear to everyone.

    Is it acceptable for a woman or man who is engaged to date other people while they are engaged?

    If Weber didn’t have a solid verbal from EJ, he probably would have spent more time recruiting some other guards as a failsafe. Weber has already been burned waiting on a recruit, so it is only speculation if he would have offered someone else or waited. There’s a huge difference between telling everyone I’m solid with Illinois and lately implying that it is close race with Indiana.

    I don’t blame EJ for letting this get out of hand so much as I blame his family and hs coach, and especially Samson for recruiting in a shady manner.

  10. The sky is not going to fall if Eric Gordon Goes to Indiana instead of Illinois. But there is bound to be hard feelings either way he chooses.If the media would give the Gordon family a little consideration and let them do what is best for their son and let them make their choice on which program is the best for Eric. Then when it is all said and done lets get on with the more important things in life. I think that Eric will do very well where ever he decides to go. I am a Hoosier fan myself as is the Gordon family, but if he decides that UI is the best school for him let us wish the Gordon family the best of luck in the choices that they make. I know in my heart that if I was in Eric Gordon’s family that would be the way i would feel. Best of Luck to the Gordon family from a Hoosier fan.

  11. I just hope Eric makes the best decision for himself. I’m an Illinois fan, and naturally I would like him to go to Illinois, but this is a HUGE decision for a 17 year old kid. It is best to check out all options and be sure of your decision.

    I also don’t think he or his family is doing this for the attention. They will have enough attention when he is a star in the NBA.

    Good luck and go Illini.

  12. Brad Come on now .. Verbal Commitments have been around for a long time and have been broken for the same length of time… There are many documented cases where this has occurred. To brand this to a moral bond or character principle is very naive and I would even say sanctimonious… He can not de-commit for if he did the flood gates would burst open… Character reigns supreme but this is not even about character .. this is about his future… That is what is at stake here… If I was Weber I would just sit on the merits of my program and let it roll as should Sampson… This is being driven by the recruit not the coaches…

    The verbal commitment is just a tool for the prospect to manage the recruiting process… With the quotes from Senior in the Korman article, it is clear that there were extenuating circumstances that have led the Gordons down this path… It was revealed that Sampson indeed had recruited EJ for Oklahoma but EJ did not want to travel that far… He did not want to play with MD and when that changed with Sampson becoming the coach it was mutually agreed to revisit the original recruitment….

  13. As for Weber recruiting other recruits that has not stopped… Dar Tucker is being courted as well as others… once a decision is made by EJ you will see a series of decisions made by other recruits and schools … like a domino effect… this is what happened to Teague …. He saw the writing on the wall… Any coach with recruiting experience knows that you have to overbook seats to cover the contingencies… They expect change of hearts. Sampson is not counting on EJ to necessarily choose IU… He has other players in mind to build his team….

  14. cheyennetnman, I completely disagree with you. Just because people have broken verbal committments in the past does not make it acceptable behavior! That is just like saying Weber can now make lots of illegal calls to recruits just because Sampson did it in the past.

    A verbal committment is a recruit’s promise to attend a specific university. Promises are a man’s word, and are meant to be kept. They are not something you make or take lightly. It is a character issue when a man promises. Especially ones of this magnitude that affect an entire team.

    I seriously question the integrity of any recruit’s family (and/or high school coach) that allow a recruit to take verbal committments lightly. Especially if they wait so long without any regards for the team they originally committed. Short lists are for keeping other schools away, not verbal committments.

    While I understand the coaching situation at IU changed and that was cause for EJ to re-evaluated his decision, his parents/coach allowed him do this so it wasn’t completely above the table, and they allowed him to wait until very late in the recruiting game. Stating over & over all summer that he was going to Illinois, and he was solid with Illinois, and then suddenly as of late that he is looking at Indiana isn’t a very honorable thing to do.

    All EJ had to do is say early in the summer that he wasn’t completely committed to Illinois and although he was leaning toward Illinois, he was going to look at just 2 schools ( Illinois and Indiana).

    Yes I’m sure Weber has a backup plan if EJ goes to IU, but he would be able to secure a much better recruit if he didn’t have to wait so long to offer to them because he thought he had the SG position filled. Do you really think any other top 10 SG is going to wait around for EJ to make his final decision to see if he can go to Illinois?

    Plus we don’t know of what repercusions this may have to the other 2007 Indiana & Illinois recruits. What if Demetri McCamey decommits because EJ changes his mind. If you ask me the NCAA should not allow verbal committments to be given until the start of a players senior year.

    While I realize some recruits get tired of schools bothering them, they can say “no!” and get unlisted phone numbers. That is a parent’s/coaches’ responsibility to help these kids stand up to schools they have already ruled out.

    Although I hope EJ does what is best for him, I hope he ends this circus very soon. There will be enough animosity between Indiana and Illinois to last a decade now.

  15. someone said….

    But there is bound to be hard feelings either way he chooses.

    What precisely would give IU fans the sense that they have a right to have “hard feelings” if young Mr. Gordon honors his commitment and attends UI like he said he wanted to and would? Who are you kidding? Sampson does a dishonorable thing and IU fans get their hopes up and if he attends the school he committed to, IU fans have a right to have “hard feelings”?? IU fans would be the victims right? That really takes the cake. You IU fans should be embarrassed. Leave your faux victim-hood at the door – it is disgusting.

    .

  16. Let’s stop worrying about our own wants and think about the Gordons. They have a very tough decision to make, and they are taking all the steps necessary to make it. Please do not fill this wall up with bitterness and frustration. It only degrades yourself. You cannot change the rules of recruitment over night. So simply let’s let the kid make his choice and get on with our lives.

  17. Come on now Jack, you act as if they are sending EJ overseas to war. Plus it’s not like he’s planning on playing all 4 years. So this isn’t as tough of a decision as everyone makes it out to be. And quite frankly I’m getting tired of all the sympathy for a kid whose family is making a mockery of the recruiting process.

    Every quote from EJ indicates that EJ wants to go to Illinois, but his Dad is pushing him toward Indiana because Sampson hired 2 of his friends, not to mention his Dad doesn’t want to be left behind and be made to feel bad because his son went out of state. Using guilt to steer your son towards a college he doesn’t really want to go to is just lame.

    So no, this isn’t about our wants and needs, this is concern about all the people that his family is affecting by letting this fiasco drag on and on. Are we going to get another announcement next week that there will be a non-announcement because EJ now wants to visit Kentucky? I’m sure Indiana fans would take an entirely different tone if Kentucky were invovled in this recruiting b.s. instead of Illinois.

  18. I think EJ is going to IU. That said, I think UI will win way more games than IU over the next 10 years, because Bruce Weber is a better coach, Illinois has a larger recruiting base, and those two factors will add up to alot of wins.

  19. It is time for the N.C.A.A. to step in and stop this.

    without rules and regulations you have havoc and that is what we have now…..

    it is time for the n.c.a.a. to clean up this process…now !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Hey everybody its DICKIE V!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think EG should decide on the hoosiers baby. Ever since they got the PTCr(PrimeTimeCoacher) Kelvin Sampson I have been on the hoosiers bandwagon baby!!! EG you should go to IU baby!!!!!!

  21. beverly, deion thomas? do you even know the history about that? if you did you would know that nothing was ever found against the UI

  22. Do we really care where EG goes? If he is as good as people say, he is one year (or two) and then off to the NBA. Hey, Bruce has proven record of getting the most out of his players. As an Illini fan, I’d rather have players that are committed to the program, rather than someone who may not honor a promise to his team. If he ends up going to Illinois, great. If not, life goes on and the Illini will be a top team in the Big 10 for the next decade.

  23. Ka-bar… I wont have hard feelings if he went to UI, its his decisions, no… HA. Do I sense bitterness that he might come to his hometown school where he grew up watching??

    As for verbal committments, well they are a joke… in this world NOTHING is committed unless there is a physical signing so get over it and quit crying… did you not grow up in the real world?

    Anyway, basically Mayo and Gordon shouldnt have made verbal committments in the first place but they did and they are both considering other schools… they are too young to think about their decisions like that, now we just get to sit and wait for them to make a final decision that goes on a dotted line.

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