EDITOR'S NOTE: As a couple of readers have mentioned (thanks for that), Naadir Tharpe IS ranked by Rivals. He's at No. 109. My mistake. I wish I could blame LeBron James since everybody is picking on him these days, but the blame is all mine.
So here we are, basking in the glow of the first wave of basketball recruiting possibilities (could point guard Naadir Tharpe and forward Kenny Kaminski become Hoosiers?), facing some angry comments in regard to Tom Crean’s ability to land the recruits necessary to turn around the indiana program, and pause to offer this thought:
What’s up with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and his what-was-he-thinking-sports-letter-ever-written message?
Gilbert slammed LeBron James for bolting Cleveland for Miami. He called him a “former hero,” said James’ decision was a “cowardly betrayal” and guaranteed the Cavaliers would win a NBA championship before Miami.
Now THAT is entertainment.
Anyway, back to the basketball recruiting scene.
Look for Indianapolis to solidify its position as the July basketball recruiting capital of the world. That will be highlighted with the Adidas Invitational, which debuted in Indy this past week and looks to make the city an annual stop. Most of the action was at North Central High School and nearby Northview Middle School, but there also were games all over the city.
Indianapolis’ attractiveness for summer recruiting tournaments is the same as it is for NCAA tourneys, Super Bowls and Big Ten events -- it’s centrally located with great facilities and plenty of hotels, restaurants and things to do. Plus, the city knows how to put on major events.
Yes, places like Orlando, Las Vegas and L.A. have a certain sexy appeal, but if your focus is on evaluating big-time basketball talent, is there any place better than Indy?
Of course not.
Top prep prospects who played in the Adidas tourney included forward LeBryan Nash of Dallas, forward Chane Behanan of Kentucky and, yes, forward Cody Zeller. Nash is rated as the nation’s No. 4 player by Rivals.com. Behanan is No. 24 by Rivals. Zeller is at No. 35, but figure he’ll be a lot higher by the end of the summer if he keeps playing like he did at the Adidas event.
Viewing all this was basically every coach from every significant team in every significant conference in the country. They included Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, Bob Huggins and, of course, Tom Crean.
And in case the Adidas event wasn’t enough, the Hoosier Shootout in Greenwood provided more opportunities to find the kind of special players needed for big-time success.
Crean has a ton of in-state prospects to consider (including guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who is out for the summer with a knee injury), but he took a long look at Tharpe, a 5-11 point guard from New Hampshire who helped his New England Playaz team reach the semifinals of the Adidas tourney. Tharpe is in the Class of 2011, but is not listed in Rivals’ top 150. He’s got offers from Boston College, Charlotte, Providence, Marquette, Seton Hall and Rutgers.
Is Tharpe a difference-making point guard? That’s up for debate, but uncertainty is true for every player, even the elite ones. You don’t know how a guy will perform until he gets to college. Not every one is a John Wall.
As far as Kaminski, he is weighing offers from IU, Wisconsin and Michigan State. He’s set to make a decision by the end of the month.
For now, though, there’s plenty to consider and talk about.
Just ask Dan Gilbert.