During all my years of covering high school athletics, I've seen some of the best high school basketball players to ever play the game. Some players to note that I've been blessed to see perform in person are: Kevin Garnett, Ronnie Fields, Frank Williams, Marcus Griffin, Bruce Douglas, Kendall Gill, Kenny Battle, Nick Anderson, Michael Payne, Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Shaun Pruitt, Shaun Livingston, Jamar Smith, Marcus Liberty, Corey Maggette, Sherron Collins and Jon Scheyer.
Now having seen that list, I can say with a straight face that Eric Gordon showed me and many others on Saturday that he is not only one of the best guards in the class of ‘07 but he may be one of the nation's best players right now!
No one knows if Gordon will be as good as the guys mentioned above, but from a talent standpoint he is unreal. Say what you want about Bruce Weber and his recruiting "flaws" - he got a diamond in Gordon.
North Central's Coach Doug Mitchell asked us, "How good is he and what can you really say about his game right now?" I mean literally, when we asked Coach Mitchell he sat there and couldn't answer what Gordon could work on. Gordon can run and he's very fast. I asked Champaign News-Gazette reporter Loren Tate what he thought of Gordon's speed, he looked at me and said, "Dee?" That same question was asked to Mitchell and he laughed and said, "I really think Eric is faster with the ball than without it."
No question - after that performance Gordon's stock will increase. Scout.com recruiting expert Dave Telep said, "How can it not after that performance?"
What makes this young man so special is the fact that he is 6-4 and can shoot with the best of them and handle the ball better than most think. I believe he can play both the one and two at Illinois. He plays just as hard on the defensive end of the floor, can create and get a shot whenever he feels like it, and did so against maybe one of the best defenders in the nation - Simeon's Derrick Rose. Everyone has talked about the back-to-back dunks Gordon blessed us with, but you had to see it to understand them. "Yeah, the first one I was kind of like, yeah, there's no one there, but the second one I saw someone standing there and I just went up higher," said Gordon. The entire day there were six games and Gordon was the only player there to make the crowd stand up and get out of their seats.
Illini fans, you're very lucky the NBA has a new age rule because if this kid is only a junior, next year when he's a senior I could see the "Big Boys" calling to get a ticket to see this gem.
Like every time I speak with Gordon, all he can talk about is playing college basketball with Derrick Rose. "I talked to him on the court tonight and I will call him everyday if I have to. He's a great player. I know he has to make a decision for himself, but I want him to know that we would make a great backcourt at Illinois. I'm 100% committed to Illinois and I will keep talking to him," said Gordon.
"I didn't look at this as a one-on-one match up. He's a great player that can do a lot of the same things I can. He really tries to get his team involved and he's such a competitor," Gordon added.
For those that have never seen Gordon play - if he keeps getting better this kid may have a chance at the National High School Player of the Year award when he's a senior.
The ride was five hours for me but after seeing what I saw from Mr. Gordon, I'll be making the trip to Indiana a lot more over the next two years.