Recruits left in a tough position

One of the most devastating implications to the end of the Kelvin Sampson era in Bloomington may still yet to be seen.

At this point, it’s hard to tell. There’s four members of Indiana’s 2008 class who are now left with a decision of whether or not to come and play for a coach they didn’t originally sign with. Devin Ebanks, Terrell Holloway, Matt Roth and Tom Pritchard all planned on coming to Indiana to play for Kelvin Sampson.

Now Sampson’s out, and Dan Dakich is in (for now at least). Athletic Director Rick Greenspan announced Friday that Indiana intends on honoring the clause in two of the letters of intent that allows those players to be released if Sampson was no longer the coach. Associate Athletic Director Grace Calhoun confirmed after the press conference that indeed Ebanks and Holloway are those two. Ebanks, a 5-star prospect according to Rivals.com, is the signature recruit of the class.

Calls to both Ebanks, his prep coach Jere Quinn and Holloway were unreturned Sunday evening, but all have talked with media outlets over the past few days about the tumultuous situation at Indiana.

Ebanks’ mother, Yvonne Jackson, spoke with SI.com’s Kevin Armstrong last week (before Sampson’s fate was determined) and said that they had yet to make a decision on the issue. Another story by the NY Daily News reads along the same line: Ebanks and his mother, while acknowledging the fact that they committed to a school not a coach, will now begin to consider their options. He is expected to re-open his commitment to Indiana, Rutgers and Miami (FL).

Meanwhile, Holloway spoke with John Felts of Inside Indiana and offered several of the same sentiments as his friend Ebanks. “I’m in a wait and see mindset right now,” said Holloway, who is currently playing with former IU recruit Bud Mackey at Harmony Community in Cincinnati. “I haven’t talked to Coach Dakich yet, but I’m sure I will. Coach (Jeff) Meyer called me and we talked about everything. I’m still signed with the Hoosiers, but I want to see how everything plays out before I make my final decision.”

I spoke with Matt Roth on Wednesday of last week, and he told me that he stood behind Kelvin Sampson and his commitment with Indiana. Not knowing what Sampson’s fate would be, the Washington, Ill. native said that if Sampson was no longer the coach at Indiana, he’d have to sit down with his parents and high school coach Kevin Brown and discuss his options. At the end of last summer, Roth chose Indiana over Bradley and St. Louis. Roth, like Pritchard, would have to be released out of his letter of intent by Indiana before signing with another school.

Repeated calls to Pritchard last week were not returned.

And there’s also 2009 commit Derek Elston, a rising talent from Tipton, IN who was named in the NCAA report after accepting a backpack from IU assistant Jeff Meyer this past summer. All of this leaves these 17-18-year old kids in an extremely difficult decision. Sure, a lot of people will argue that kids commit with a school and not a coach. That may be true to some degree. But these kids wanted to play for Sampson and there’s no arguing that. Ebanks, who was recruited by former IU assistant Rob Senderoff and still signed with Indiana despite Senderoff’s resignation last October, told Armstrong he felt he related to Sampson because of the troubles both of them have been involved with. Ebanks, among other things, was kicked out of Bishop Louglin High in Brooklyn his junior year for a growing list of transgressions.

The most integral component to this dilemma won’t be in the mix most likely until late March, because that’s when it’s probable Indiana will bring it’s new head coach. Barring a phenomenal tournament run, it probably won’t be Dakich. There’s a ton of names floating around out there, and it’s really hard to pinpoint where Greenspan will go in his search.

But it’s a certainty what the new head coach’s first mission will be: re-recruit not only Indiana’s current players, but also the 2008 signees. Ebanks will the top priority. Much like Kelvin Sampson two years ago, when he flew to D.J. White’s home in Alabama and met his family in an attempt to convince him to stay at Indiana, IU’s new head man will have a hefty job in front of him.

If anything else, the next two to three months should be very interesting. I guess, at this point, we shouldn’t expect anything less from this program.

7 comments

  1. The last time this happened, of all the possible names tossed around, Sampson was not one of them and I suspect the ultimate choice this time will equally be a mystery. Whoever it is, we can only hope we can retain all the recruits!

  2. Not just the recruits! I’m also very worried that players like Crawford, McGee, and Holman will transfer.

    If the recruits bolt and we lose a couple of young players on this year’s roster, the cupboard could be left especially bare next winter.

  3. I’d expect IU to lose at least a couple of the four recruits and possibly a player on the team currently. But you have to put that to the side for now and find the right coach. The right guy with improvements to the facilities will find players and within a couple seasons rebuild. The wrong coach could lead to a much longer rebuild.

  4. Excellent reporting. The speculation missing is the penalty that IU receives that may impact on both future recruiting and ability to play in post-season. The impact will be for several years and the roster will be probably the same size but with players lacking the necessary qualities to produce winning results no matter the coach.

  5. The thing that bothers me the most is that the fraud Greenspan will even be around to pick the new coach. This guy is nothing but trouble for IU

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