Saturday, May 14, 2011

Can You Handle the Travel Basketball Truth?

Brian Keeton isn’t a pull-punches travel basketball coach. The man who runs the Eric Gordon All-Stars 15s tells it like it is.

He has a strong team, but when it got off to a slow start in the adidas May Classic, barely holding off Indiana Elite Hoopmatics at Assembly Hall, Keeton spoke from the heart.

For instance, there’s talented Jaquan Lyle, an Evansville Bosse freshman standout who has a scholarship offer from Indiana along with ones from Purdue, Xavier and Illinois (Ohio State could be next). He’s a passionate guy and passionate guys sometimes struggle with focus and discipline and, yes, making it to games on times.

He was late to the Hoopmatics game, which didn’t help his team or his coach’s mood.

“He got here late which threw us off at the start of the game,” Keeton said.

“His big thing is at times he gets lazy on defense. He’s a special kid. A major talent. He can do it. I’ve seen him do it. He’s done in in major games for us.”

Lyle basically averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists for Bosse this past season. He brings that kind of production to the Eric Gordon team, but Keeton wants more.

“I also think he has to be a complete teammate. He has to support guys more. He’s the most skillful player I’ve had the pleasure of coaches and if he continues to work, the sky is the limit for him. I love him, but he has to work on getting here on time.”

One intriguing prospect on the Eric Gordon All-Stars is Eron Gordon. Yes, he’s the younger brother of the former IU standout. He’s only a seventh grader, so he’s playing two years up, and it shows. Still, the potential is there.

“He’s a young guy,” Keeton said, “but he’s great. He’s all smiles. Everything you tell him or yell at him, he smiles at you.”

Eric Gordon was a prolific scorer in high school and college, and remains that way with the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. Eron has that same attribute.

“I know at the 7th grade level they tell him to get the ball and score,” Keeton said. “We’re telling him to try to run some kind of an offense and look for your teammates.

“It’s been an adjustment for him. I can imagine him against kids his own age. He’s very impressive. He’s very coachable. He understands he still has to work.

“This is the best thing for him. He’s dominating the competition where he’s at. He needs to play up. This is a great opportunity for him. He’s a contributor for us. He played in Fort Wayne (last week) and had a game where he had 7 to 8 points, didn’t turn it over and defended their point guard.”

Does that sound like someone IU could use in about six years?

You’d better believe it.


You already know this, but Yogi Ferrell is really good. Yes, the point guard out of Indianapolis Park Tudor and Indiana Elite/Team Indiana needs to gain weight and get stronger, so it's a good thing he has a year to do both before arriving in college. But he has the skills you need in a point guard. You could argue that he is the most important player in what looms as one of the nation's best recruiting classes for 2012.

We'll have more on that topic in a future blog.


You bet V.J. Beachem didn’t miss the championship banners hanging in Assembly Hall. The Fort Wayne Harding standout had gotten the opportunity to play –- as a member of the Eric Gordon All-Stars 16 -- on one of the most famous basketball courts in America, and appreciated every moment.

The Hoosiers are on his favorite’s list and just because he has yet to get a scholarship offer doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate what IU has to offer.

“It’s a great school with a great tradition,” he said. “Those banners up there are what make this place go. It’s a great program with very classy guys.”

Beachem, a member of the Class of 2013, averaged 17.8 points this past season for Harding, which will close after this school year. He’s heading to nearby New Haven High school.

As far as where he’ll end up in college, the picture is less clear.

He’s only had one offer, and that’s from Purdue. He’s also looking at IU, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Xavier, Notre Dame and Cincinnati.

What is he looking for in a school?

“I want a place where my parents can see me a lot, maybe not every game, but a lot of them. I want a great coaching staff and a great school academic-wise. And a place I can play soon.”

The 6-7 Beachem has a 6-11 wingspan, which is good, but needs to add plenty of weight (he weighs just 185 pounds) and strength to be major-college ready.

“That’s the main thing I’m working on,” he said. “I also have to sit down better on defense and attack the glass more.”

If he makes the necessary improvement in those areas, look out.

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