Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why Shouldn't Crean Offer a Standout 8th Grader

Is it wrong to offer an 8th grader a basketball scholarship?

The correct answer –- yes, if it’s the wrong 8th grader.

Eron Gordon is not the wrong 8th grader.

His talent suggests he’ll develop Big Ten-caliber impact. His family heritage, with oldest brother Eric a former Indiana All-America and now NBA player, and another old brother Evan at Arizona State, works in his favor.

He’s a solidly built 6-2 8th grade combo guard, by the way. He just led his Indianapolis Westlane Middle School team to a 53-0 record over the past two years. He’s headed to North Central, which has a rich tradition of producing standout teams and players, including Eric Gordon.

Is he awfully young to be getting a college scholarship offer? Sure, but these are the times we live in.

So IU coach Tom Crean offered him a scholarship as part of the Class of 2016. It’s why Purdue coach Matt Painter will likely do the same thing today, when Eron makes an unofficial visit to West Lafayette.

Eron, by the way, has accepted nothing. Nor should he at this stage. He needs to make absolutely certainly he picks the school that’s the best fit for him, and he has no better example than Eric, who originally committed to Illinois before changing his mind once Kelvin Sampson arrived at Indiana.

When you’re an 8th grader, you’re in no position to know what you want and need in a college. Eron needs to keep all options open for a while.

Jeff Rabjohns of has been all over the Gordon saga. Eron’s father, Eric Gordon Sr., told Jeff they’ll continue to work on Eron’s game and that he’d likely end up at either IU, Purdue, Notre Dame, Louisville, Xavier and Cincinnati. That’s an impressive group, but then, Eron is an impressive player.

He doesn’t need to be in high school to see that.


To the surprise of no one, Kentucky’s five underclassmen are leaving for the NBA. Yes, the one-and-done story is alive and well in Lexington. So is public relation glitz, which is why the Wildcats conducted a nationally televised press conference Tuesday night to announce their decision.

Freshmen Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will enter the NBA draft and not look back. The same is true of sophomores Terence Jones and Doron Lamb. These are the guys, along with senior Darius Miller, who led Kentucky to the national championship earlier this month.

If you like numbers, the five underclassmen averaged a combined 62.1 points. Davis led UK in scoring (14.2) and rebounding (10.4). Teauge led with 4.8 assists a game.

Coach John Calipari used the press conference to promote his players ability and his affection for them. He said they would all finish this semester academically, which is huge in these coach-is-accountable-for-everything times.

Calipari, meanwhile, continues to recruit top-10 talent. Losing his top six players is an inconvenience rather than a major blow. He’s reloaded with another powerhouse class. It features 6-11 center Nerlens Noel, the nation’s No. 2 ranked player, No. 8 Alex Poythress, No. 14 Archie Goodwin and No. 40 Willie Cauley. now rates this class No. 1 in the nation, with IU dropping to No. 5.

The Wildcats will again be a national power next season.

But will they be powerful enough to handle what will be a deep, talented, veteran Hoosier squad, assuming the teams actually play next season?

We’ll find out soon enough.


Is Crean ready to go the junior college route to boost the roster starting in 2013?

It’s possible.

Crean and his staff are taking a long look at Jameel McKay, a JUCO All-America from Indiana Hills Community College in Iowa. The 6-8 forward led Indian Hills in scoring (14.6), rebounding (7.7) and shooting (62 percent) this season. He averaged 15.3 points and 12.5 rebounds as Indian Hills finished seventh in the national tournament.

Wichita State, Arkansas, Marquette and Iowa State already have offered him. He would have two years of eligibility remaining starting with the fall of 2013.


Finally, a personal note.

We unexpectedly lost our family dog the other night. Her name was Coco, a Shelty, and she was famous for, among other things, interrupting Purdue coach Matt Painter’s teleconferences by barking out questions and comments.

Then I would be asked, Pete, is that your dog? And I would answer, with deep sincerity, what dog?

Anyway, Coco and I had a game. I would cut the grass and she would accompany me, barking and giving me grief.

On Monday night our game resumed. About halfway through I stopped cutting and chased her through the yard and around a tree. She’d keep the tree between us, so it was tough to catch her. She was 14 and slowing down, so I eventually did catch her. She was tired and sore (she had arthritis, one of the many drawbacks of growing old) and laid in the grass, first rolling around to scratch her back, then finally just sitting there watching me cut. The sun was shining and she grew sleepy, her eyes half closed.

I was going to just cut the front yard and save the back for tomorrow. Instead, I decided to finish cutting.

I regret that very much now.

I was almost done when a neighbor appeared. I stopped the mower. He told me the news. Coco had been run over by a car in our driveway. She was gone. There weren’t any external injuries other than her gums had gone white from massive internal bleeding. She looked like, in every other way, that she was just sleeping. That any second she would jump up and want to play.

She still does, in my memories.


  1. Pete,

    Thank you for all of your articles you give us. Thank you for sharing a part of your personal life with Coco; and, I'm sorry for the loss of a part of your family.

  2. Great article. So sorry for the loss of your dog.

    Go Bruins
    NHS Class of '86

  3. Pete,

    Just awful news about Coco. I am sure that you will carry all of the great memories with you forever.

    Your work ethic in the offseason is incredible. Great work with the football team (IU).

  4. Sorry for the loss of the four legged, furry member of your family, I know that pain all too well, many, that still live in my heart and mind, those wonderful non speaking members have helped make us more humane, I have found that if you go out and find a new four legged, furry for your family, it helps a lot, I think Coco would approve. Al Pittman

  5. Thank you for sharing your memories of Coco. Many of us have experienced the joy and devotion a dog brings to the family; we've also experienced the inconsolable grief. I'm so sorry for your loss.