The call came just past midnight. The voice was a harsh whisper on the phone. Hoosier Deep Throat with another scoop.
“Meet me in the parking garage by the Wells Library in 30 minutes,” he said. “Tell no one.”
The garage was packed with shadows. The glowing end of a cigarette in a far corner told us where to go.
“It’s been a long time,” we said.
A figure moved in the shadows, but did not emerge. Hoosier Deep Throat. He took a final drag from the cigarette, dropped it to the concrete floor and crushed it out.
“Those things will kill you,” we said.
“So will losing 20 games a year.”
A cell phone rang nearby. It came from a student crossing a nearby street.
“We don’t have much time,” we said. “What’s the scoop?”
Hoosier Deep Throat sank back deeper into the shadows.
“Cody Zeller,” he said. “It’s a done deal.”
“A done deal for what?”
“He’s coming to Indiana. He’ll wear the Cream ‘n Crimson starting next year.”
We knew this was big. Zeller was a top-20 player, an in-state kid from nearby Washington. Fans believe he could be the centerpiece for a national title run. He would be, without a doubt, the biggest recruit of coach Tom Crean’s Indiana run. It would solidify the growing recruiting momentum that, in a few short months, had turned Cream ‘n Crimson gloom into blinding optimism.
“How do you know?” we asked. “Do you have any proof?”
Hoosier Deep Throat laughed and lit another cigarette. For an instant in the flash of light we saw a face before darkness swallowed it up. It was too fast for recognition. And yet …
“Proof will come when he signs the national letter of intent,” he said.
We knew Butler and North Carolina were still in the mix. Even if Cody had made his decision, nothing was etched in stone until he signed.
“Butler was the biggest basketball story of the century last year," we said. "North Carolina would be hard for anybody to resist. Sean May couldn't do it. The older Zeller couldn’t do it.”
Hoosier Deep Throat took a drag from his cigarette. “Cody is made of stronger stuff. His last official visit is at Indiana. You don’t think that’s a coincidence, do you?”
“We’d heard that’s just the way the schedule worked best.”
“You heard wrong. A coach will tell you, you want to be first or last on official visits. Never in the middle. The best position, by far, is to be last.”
Hoosier Deep Throat took another drag.
“Cody has made several unofficial visits to IU,” he said. “He’s not doing that because he likes to dodge deer on the drive up from Washington. Besides, North Carolina already has an inside commitment from 6-8 James McAdoo, the No. 8 guy in the Class of 2011.”
“And that means what?” we ask.
“You’re a big boy. You figure it out.”
We didn’t know what to say, so we said nothing. Silence enveloped us like a security blanket. Hoosier Deep Throat crushed out his cigarette with a stomp of his left foot.
“It’s a done deal,” he said, “and come November, you’ll see.”
And then he was gone.
His words, and their significance, lingered.