Etherington, Zeller confirmed for Derby Classic

Austin Etherington and Cody Zeller will be suiting up together in this year’s Derby Festival Classic, according to rosters released today.

The game is April 22 at the Yum! Center in Louisville, with a skills competition the day before at Bellarmine.

Should be a great field — seven McDonald’s All-Americans (including Zeller) and 18 of the 24 are in’s top-100 prospects.

For those of you unfamiliar, the rosters are generally filled with as many Indiana, Louisville and Kentucky prospects as possible in order to aid local interest in the game. The game went 0-of-4 on the Kentucky guys this year, though — opening up spots that will be taken by former IU targets like Branden Dawson (Michigan State) and B.J. Young (Arkansas).

Here is the site to go to for ticket information and such.


  1. I remember seeing Moses Malone playing in it back in the day. At halftime he got smoked by one of the Indiana/Kentucky players in a game of one-on-one.

  2. Dawson did have IU on his “interest” list, but he was never a serious target. I’ve followed on the various Hoosier blogs for the past two years and I don’t remember a single article written about any communications by recruiters with Dawson. On this website there was a all-out campaign to land Zeller. HT’s very own writers bought into the garbage Fourguards was selling on here(e.g.”Everything hinges on Cody”). There has been a complete exodus of active recruiting from Northwest Indiana. Perea is not part of that equation because he’s an A-Hope* connection jumping to a private school. Izzo seized on an opportunity only offered by our ignorance and resignation that kids from hard streets are bad kids. If you claim to be objective, then you should be and not call Dawson a “target”.


    “He’s just a freak,” said Mark Adams, coach at Indiana Elite and founder of the A-HOPE program that brought Perea to the U.S. “Emmanuel Negedu was the best athlete I’d ever seen until I saw him, Hanner’s two inches taller and has three inches more in wingspan and jumps just as well as Negedu. He’s a rare athlete. I can’t think of anyone with his size and his length. I can’t think of any better athlete.”

    Show me one article by a Bloomington/Indianapolis sportswriter describing Dawson’s game with the same adulation. Dawson put up 37 points against LeLumiere recently.

  3. Everything,
    A few things here. One, Dawson did say Crean was after him several times. Whether IU ever truly had a chance I don’t know, but Dawson talked about Crean telling him how much he reminded him of Dwyane Wade. So he was a target. Everyone figured he was going to Purdue for the longest time, so it’s possible that IU turned down the pressure because they presumed they were out of it. I really don’t know. But IU definitely recruited Dawson.
    Two, the reason there wasn’t more written about Dawson than Perea is Perea committed to Indiana. That doesn’t mean we think Dawson isn’t better than Perea or that he is better than Perea. We cover Indiana and we’re like four hours away from Gary. Players from Gary who commit to Michigan State are certainly of interest to our readers, but it’s peripheral interest. We’ve written some things about him, but not too much because it didn’t seem likely that he was going to Indiana. Plus, his AAU team, the SYF Players, was kind of all over the place this summer, so we didn’t run into him as much. I went to see him and Gary Harris at the LeBron James Camp, but we would’ve had to go pretty far out of our way to find him the rest of July.
    Third, that’s a quote you pointed out. I didn’t say that. Hugh didn’t say that. Mark Adams said that. When Perea committed, we obviously were looking for people to describe his game to the readers. So we talked to his AAU coach, who unsurprisingly raved about his game. Pretty standard procedure.

  4. “One, Dawson did say Crean was after him several times.”

    -Did you ever communicate that fact in a Hoosier Scoop article during the long period you obsessed over Zeller?
    -When and where did Dawson say Crean was aggressively after him? I can’t for the life of me remember one time any of you said Crean was pursuing Dawson in a Hoosier Scoop article..Maybe you can locate one.
    -Do you think a school/coach should ever presume they are out of the running for a recruit you’re now claiming was a “target” when the coach says the player reminds him of Dwyane Wade and there is still no signed LOI? Are you saying Crean gave up on the kid before Tom Izzo started looking at him?
    -4 hours to Gary? Does your van max out at 50 mph? 3 hours and 15 minutes max. Three hours is the maximum drive for a recruiter or a reporter to see the next Dwyane Wade?

    This is a bunch of butt covering. You can’t fess up to the fact you gave this kid zero attention. You can’t fess up to the many times I read you claiming how Cody was the symbolic recruit that would change all perceptions our stagnant program? Our coach gave Dawson zero attention. You gave Dawson zero page space. Fess up. Be objective. I don’t blame you guys for obsessing on Zeller and writing what your followers wanted to hear. He was not a “target” in any sense of the word.

  5. Originally, this game pitted players from Kentucky and (mostly) Southern Indiana against an all star roster of player from across the US. There weren’t as many all star games back then so they could get THE best players in the country in the game. The KY/IN team usually managed to hold their own or even win. The black/gold thing just doesn’t interest me as much.

  6. Hilarious – where does Everything get all his insider information. Are you unsure of the recruiting definition of ‘target’, or are you taking it literally and think that Dustin is trying to say he is a bale of hay with concentric circles pinned to it, or maybe a department store? I am confused here, cause it sounds like Dawson said he was targeted and Crean said he targeted him. Who else needs to confirm this besides the 2 most involved parties before Everything just accepts that he was a target?

    Dustin, either you are flat out lying or Everything is a moron.

    Which is it?

  7. Everything,
    First, here’s a blog post from the LeBron James Camp in July when Dawson said Indiana was still on his list.

    I also looked for the quote from earlier when Dawson said Crean told him he reminded him of Dwyane Wade. It was in a Gary Post-Tribune Story that isn’t accessible on the website anymore, but it was posted on several message boards at the time and here is a link to one of them. It also clarifies that Indiana did offer him a scholarship. Sorry I couldn’t find the original, but I think you get the point.

    That should be enough to establish that, yes, Crean offered Dawson a scholarship. To me, that’s plenty enough to declare someone a target. We didn’t call him the “top target” or the No. 1 priority. I don’t know how many times Crean visited Dawson or called his house. I don’t know if he went down swinging until the bitter end and was begging Dawson not to commit to Michigan State or if he backed off when he started to realize he wasn’t going to get him. I do know that as of early July, Indiana was still involved. But a month later, he was committed to Michigan State (which by the way, was three months before Zeller committed, hence the reason he wasn’t part of the discussion when the Zeller talk went up a notch.) But one way or another, Crean tried to get him to come to Indiana. Therefore, he was a target.
    As for Zeller, well, he did symbolically change perceptions of IU’s stagnant program. I would argue that Ron Patterson, Peter Jurkin, James Blackmon, Trey Lyles and especially Hanner Perea also helped, but Zeller’s commitment clearly led to Yogi Ferrell’s commitment and assuredly factored in the commitments of Devin Davis and Collin Hartman. But you could also read this story I wrote with help from some recruiting experts who discussed his effect.

    That’s not to say that if Branden Dawson would have committed to Indiana he wouldn’t have had a similar effect. I don’t know that we’ve ever proclaimed that Zeller is a better player than Dawson. They’re both great players and really, beyond what a program that had 16 wins over two seasons should have been expected to land. Signing either one of them was going to represent a major, major coup for IU, and getting Zeller was a big deal.
    So if they were both a big deal, why did Dawson not get nearly as much press here as Zeller? Because Zeller actually committed to Indiana and Dawson was just a target. Zeller narrowed down his choices, took visits and had Indiana in it the whole way. Dawson pulled the trigger out of the blue in August. There wasn’t any sort of build up or rumbling that had everyone thinking he was committing to IU. We kept an eye on him, but didn’t focus too much attention on him because it didn’t appear that he was going to end up at Indiana.
    And at the end of the day, that’s the point. We don’t cover recruiting or high school basketball in the state of Indiana, we cover IU and recruiting is a part of that. If you want to argue that Dawson should get more attention for all-state teams or Mr. Basketball or that he should be rated higher in the Rivals Top 150, I’m not the guy to go to about that. If you have some reason to believe that Crean didn’t make calls that he should have made or disrespected Dawson in some way to take himself out of the running, feel free to pass that information along but I don’t know that. If there was reason to believe that missing out on Dawson represented ineptitude on the part of Crean, that would be a story that we should write. But considering he lost out on him to a program that went to the Final Four the last two years, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
    At the end, could we have written more about Dawson? Sure, but covering recruiting is an inexact science and it’s even more inexact when it’s not your primary job function. We’re not like Rivals guys who spend every night at high school gyms. If you would’ve liked to read more about Dawson, we’re sorry, but if you think it’s some conspiracy to hold down a kid from the Region, well, you’re way off base here.

  8. If Hoosier Scoop/Herald Times is claiming to be “objective”, there is nothing remotely close to that journalistic goal by calling anything Crean did in pursuit of Dawson, or anything the media/print did to give fair coverage, to call Dawson a “target”. There was a “scholarship situation”. Remember? There was one “savior” for the program. Remember? There were “dominoes” of the “savior”, his AAU buddies, where the remaining scholarships had to fall. Remember? The “floodgates” were ready to open! Remember? Please tell me in your most sincere voice that the Great Cody Flood included the kid from Gary Wallace. Any fan or journalist covering IU basketball paying attention one iota for the past two years that refuses to look that straight in the bull’s eye of objectivity and call it as they saw it would most definitely be in the category of “moron”. “Target”? Complete BS.

  9. Everything = Moron…..

    There were numerous articles written about Dawson on different IU sites, and I remember numerous times his name came up on recruiting chats here or at ITH.

    The focus of the Herald Times IU recruiting coverage should and was focused on Cody Zeller. He grew up 45 minutes from Bloomington and had a more realistic chance to go to IU.

    I guess the herald times should start covering Louisville basketball a little bit closer too. Remember, they are only 2 hours away.

  10. Everything,
    Not sure if you posted that before I posted my response, but I officially have no idea where you’re going with this.
    No Zeller’s commitment didn’t land Dawson. Dawson was already committed at that point. Zeller’s commitment led to Yogi Ferrell’s commitment and also the commitments of Devin Davis and Collin Hartman, which were kind of a big deal. Brandon Dawson is a really good player. He was recruited to Indiana but committed to Michigan State, which went to the Final Four the last two years.
    What am I missing here?

  11. The focus of the Herald Times IU recruiting coverage should and was focused on Cody Zeller. He grew up 45 minutes from Bloomington and had a more realistic chance to go to IU.

    Do you agree with that statement, Dustin?
    Louisville basketball? Doesn’t Dawson play for a public school in Indiana? Am I missing something here? Is there a recruiting blockade that stops at the two hour point traveling north in Indiana? Butt-covering at its finest. It’s how you earn your stripes.

  12. Everything,
    Let me put it to you this way. If Dawson held a press conference at Gary Wallace saying that he was choosing between Indiana, Michigan State and Purdue we would have driven to Gary to cover it. We would’ve had preview stories before it and we would’ve talked about what it would’ve meant for him to commit to Indiana.
    I went to see him in Akron. If he was in Indianapolis or Kentucky when everyone else was last summer, we would have talked to him then. If in September, he announced that he was taking three or five visits and one of them was to Indiana, we would have written about that.
    He didn’t. He committed to Michigan State in August. Indiana wasn’t involved anymore. So we really didn’t follow him. Again, I’m not the high school beat writer for the state of Indiana. I’m the Indiana University beat writer for the Bloomington Herald-Times. Does it make any sense for my paper to send me on a six-hour roundtrip to write about a Michigan State commitment? No. We’re not providing equal coverage to everyone in the state. We’re following Indiana’s recruiting. Again, Dawson was a target just like Marquis Teague was a target. We didn’t follow Teague that much because everyone figured Kentucky or Louisville. We kept an eye on him just in case things turned, but there was never a reason to go big on the coverage. He committed to Kentucky so it didn’t really make sense for us to go out of our way to talk to him anymore. Same with Dawson. If we had some reason to believe that an IU commitment was imminent we would have turned up the coverage. Zeller gave us stuff to write about. So we did. It was more convenient that he was 45 minutes away instead of three hours away. But again, yes, we would’ve driven to Gary for a similar situation. It never came to that with Dawson because he just made a commitment to Michigan State out of the blue. It did with Zeller. That’s the reason.

  13. Everything, get over it, he’s going to MSU and not Indiana. Whether these guys reported that he was on Crean’s list or if IU was on his list makes no difference now. He is better than Perea who probably won’t amount to much here. Off the top of my head I cannot think of one player (and I could be forgetting someone) who has had anything to do with Mark Adams who has ever been worth a damn, so I am not expecting much from Perea.

  14. Dustin, why do you even respond to that crap? His ranting has no foundation and means nothing to anyone here. We all knew who Dawson was. CTC and staff knew too. They recruit as they see fit. You report as you see fit. ‘Everything’ should vent to his therapist.

  15. Dustin-

    You can write ’til the cows come home. You’ve been here long enough to understand the forces that are influencing/manipulating IU basketball. Just before he went off into the sunset, Chris Korman wrote a very honest and eloquent piece about bigotry infects “culture” and how most of Sampson’s players were treated and lumped together as all degenerates. Maybe Korman’s words could provide you a lot of insight into understanding Crean’s recruiting motivations at IU. I would argue he doesn’t have the same freedom as he did at Marquette. You know very well that coaches can offer any kid from Gary to Timbuktu while doing very little to actually pursue. Dawson didn’t take IU seriously because IU was obsessed with the “savior” of the program. Do I need to pluck many your own quotes from LiveChats and ScoopTalk sessions that continually drove home that very point? Do I need to show you a quote from an HT journalist that claimed Etherington should be offered a scholarship because his tireless dedication in promoting Zeller? Dawson was available very late in the recruiting game. It was Zeller that was continually given the stage and Zeller fed off of the yearlong hoopla. You can’t even admit Dawson was given very little recognition before he committed to MSU? You offer links to for player rankings. Have you looked at other sites that rank Zeller far lower than Dawson? Be objective and show how others compare their talents. And why should it matter where Dawson is from if he’s the next Dwyane Wade and he’s interested in Indiana? Which player fits into the style of basketball that took Crean’s Marquette teams into NCAA tournaments? Did you ever use your expertise in covering basketball to open up discussions on that topic? There was an overwhelming push for Zeller. Haven’t you heard Dan Dakich is friends with the family? I wonder what ex-Hoosier turned blowhard radio talk show host was friends with Isiah Thomas’s mother when Knight drove five hours into some tough streets of Chicago to recruit one of the best guards to ever play for Indiana. Get my drift? There are reasons we say the right things and call kids targets when they hide an uglier reality underneath. Crean didn’t put in the necessary legwork for Dawson because it wasn’t worth the risk for him. Listen to the people on this blog. Listen to the criticism of the man at every opportunity they can seize. Now they are calling him a recruiter and not a coach. He landed the savior of the program. They wanted to hang him from a tree and send him back to his tiny mid-major Catholic school if he couldn’t put Cody in a Hoosier uniform. If you were Dawson would you like to be the “target” of that culture? Those are the same voices/forces that brought Zeller to IU. Of course you can’t/won’t tackle that topic. Too dangerous to be that objective. I could see that causing quite the “situation” with some real “dominoes” falling. Makes writing a COMMENTARY about a Derek Elston trip look like a flea fart.

  16. Everything,

    I think Crean almost spent to much time on Dawson. From the beginning he was a major Purdue/Michigan State lean. He wanted to play near home so his mother could see him play; therefore, Crean & IU writers probably spent way to much time on this kid.

    In a way, it makes the coaches look much smarter than you are portraying. They spent the time on the kid who was more likely to sign and it worked…

  17. [too*] much time.

    *to an excessive extent or degree; beyond what is desirable, fitting, or right: too sick to travel.

    Gary, IN to East Lansing, MI = 191 miles

    Gary, IN to Bloomington, IN = 196 miles

    If “mother” drives 50 mph(same as Dustin taking 4 hours to travel to Gary), the long trip to Bloomington would be a grueling 6 extra minutes than East Lansing.

    Is it too late for me to tell Dustin I’m sorry for taking far too much of his time? I will never be convinced Dawson was a sincere target to play basketball at Indiana.

  18. let dawson go to MSU where Izzo forces kids to transfer because after 3 years of not attending classes, Izzo starts worrying about the APR. How many African-American basketball players have graduated from MSU in the last 10 years? or the last 5 years? versus how many have been forced to transfer? I am tired of hearing how Izzo does things the right way. Hopefully, CTC doesn’t use similar tactics at IU.

  19. I don’t think Dawson will be the type of kid to squander his college opportunity and let his family down. At least there are still programs/coaches out there that give kids the benefit of the doubt, treat each on an individual basis, and refuse to make blanket judgements based on the assumptions a holier-than-thou culture of their own superior background or creed. If we are going in that direction because of what happened under Sampson, then I would argue it is a sad day and not reflective of the IU that I once attended. This discussion had nothing to do with Dawson choosing MSU because Izzo doesn’t hold his “African-American” players academically accountable. Do you really believe that? This discussion was about a top recruit in Indiana that was not given the same stage to remotely justify the use of the term “target” in the Indiana recruiting picture. Only one name was obsessed over in Bloomington. Crean had had one major target in mind for 2011. “Everything hinges on Branden Dawson”? Show me where you read anything approaching that statement in the last two years from a fan or journalist discussing or writing about IU basketball on the major Hoosier websites. Crean answered the pounding drums. He pampered and tiptoed and coddled and backstroked every step of the way to do want the fan base wanted. He brought IU Basketball its savior. He landed the most highly anticipated “target” since Damon Bailey and now some refuse to believe he should be allowed the time to build a team around him. Now some have the nerve to suggest he missed on the “target” from Gary? Very sad.

  20. Dustin-

    You won this debate. You are closer to the facts than I. At the end of the day I guess we differ on symbolic definitions vs. literal. Though Dawson was offered a scholarship, and thus conforming to a pure definition of a target, I believe Dawson sensed he wasn’t the guy those with strong influence on IU Basketball wanted most in a Hoosier uniform. It became an either/or scenario which had a lot to do with two players, Zeller and Dawson, facing each other in a 3A state final. I still believe it would have been a huge risk for Crean to go against the wave of popularity in Zeller’s corner to concentrate equally on Dawson. The local interest around Cody, and the fact that two of Zeller’s older brothers had already been lost to other out-of-state programs, kept Dawson out of the same realm of interest. One article on Scoop in two years with Dawson’s name in the headline rather speaks for itself to the amount of relevance his offer. Or, maybe all my assumptions are wrong. Maybe he did just wanted to get out of town and play for Izzo and a program with recent tournament successes. At least there was something about Purdue that turned him off. Maybe that means IU was a lot closer than any of us thought.

    Thanks again for taking the time to engage a complete lunatic. I’ll move up my appointment with the therapist. You never got short with me or hit below the belt like many do on here(including me). You’re a class act, an excellent journalist…and more importantly, a kind person.

  21. Thanks Everything, I don’t mind getting engaged in lengthy debates every once in a while. And I’ll admit that I can’t say for certain if Crean did absolutely everything in his power to get Dawson. It was, like you said, an argument of symbolic versus literal. For our purposes in calling him a target, we just had to be able to say for certain that Indiana recruited him. To what degree, we aren’t totally certain, and the only person who could really put it all in perspective is Dawson.
    Thanks again.

  22. My God, this thread got hijacked by a psycho. Do you not have a job or something actually worthwhile to do with your time besides whining about the press coverage a high school basketball player received?

Comments are closed.