Duke Jumps In With Eric Gordon

Heading into the summer recruiting season it seemed as though the Duke coaching staff was unsure of what to do next. After landing 75 percent of their recruiting class in 2006 in June, the Blue Devils were now focused on the class of 2007. After a big time summer performance, including several memorable showings in front of head coach Mike Krzyzewski, Indiana combo guard Eric Gordon finds himself with the Blue Devils hot on his trail.

When sitting down with Eric Gordon for a chat on this day, the 6-foot-3, 190lbs North Central High is quick to let you know of his work ethic and his mindset.

"The thing for me in life is that I want to make the most of the opportunity that has been given to me to play the game of basketball," says Gordon. "That desire makes me work really hard in the classroom as well as on the court. With going to one of the top academic schools in the state of Indiana, it's really helped me prepare for the academic rigors of going to a school like Duke or any other program for that matter."

"Basketball wise, the thing that has helped me stand out playing on the high school level is that I don't just play against guys my age. My father has had me playing with the older guys year after year, which allows me to dominate on the high school level."

The domination of which Gordon speaks has been on display for the better part of two seasons as the rising junior has played alongside some of the best players in the country including 2005's top rated player and current Duke freshman Josh McRoberts, 2006's top rated player, Greg Oden, and 2006's top rated combo guard Daequan Cook.

While his teammates have all concluded their recruiting processes, Gordon continues to see his list grow as several programs have picked up their interest in recent weeks. One of these late arrivals was Duke which jumped into the race for Eric's services with both feet after head coach Mike Krzyzewski watched several high major performances at various locations.

Usually when American Express' favorite pitchman moonlights courtside, it tends to heighten the intensity on the court. So was K's presence noticed by Gordon?

"Oh yeah, I noticed when someone like Coach K is watching my games. He was at a lot of my games in the past month with his assistants. It's an honor to know that Duke considers me one of their top targets."

Though the Devils may be a late arrival to the party, Duke does have a connection to Gordon that is unique, and one that the Blue Devils will no doubt make use of.

"Josh [McRoberts] and I go back to the seventh grade," said Gordon of Duke's prized freshman. "We're going to be friends for life. He's always helping me with my game and with other things. We have been talking a lot about everything, and he's always telling me not to take things for granted – especially with basketball. He's really talking to me about putting in the efforts on and off the court to get the most out of my abilities."

And while McRoberts' advice is no doubt sound, Gordon says it's just reinforcing what he's already practicing in terms of organization and priorities. Eric also realizes that McRoberts would love to have his past teammate reunite with him at the collegiate level, something Gordon says he will think long and hard about.

"I'm thrilled Duke is recruiting me, but at the same time the most important thing to me is not how many games they watch. I want to see what they are bringing to the table."

Such as? "I mean, they are one of the top academic schools in the country. Their graduation rate is very high and Coach K runs the best program I've seen. I just have a tremendous amount of respect for them and what they are doing down there at Duke."

Still, despite his growing interest from Duke, along with a list of several high major programs including Illinois, Notre Dame, Miami, Missouri, Indiana, and Kentucky, Gordon isn't in any rush to make a decision. Rather, he's going to approach this decision as he does most others – with heavy scrutiny.

"I'm going to take a year or so to really get a feel for the programs that I'm serious about. I want to see how serious each program is about me."

"It's really easy for schools to say they are interested over the summer, but I know with the list that I have, and having a school like Duke saying I'm their #1 backcourt recruit, I want to figure out how much of a commitment they really have towards me. In that respect Duke has the edge in some ways. I'm looking forward to seeing the approach that each school takes and comparing them with one another."

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