The Big Ten/ACC Challenge isn't until December, but there's been a battle brewing between two of the conferences' programs over Indianapolis guard Jeff Teague.
The point guard from Indianapolis' Pike H.S. is set to make his college choice at a 3 p.m. press conference Friday at the high school. While he's publicly narrowed his list of potential destinations to Indiana, Wake Forest, Southern Illinois, Xavier and Boston College, indications are he'll ultimately pick between the homestate Hoosiers and the ACC's Demon Deacons.
Considering the recent news about Chicago point guard Derrick Rose including IU on his list of five finalists, along with the never-ending speculation about Indianapolis guard Eric Gordon possibly winding up in Bloomington, one might be wondering just how important Teague is to Coach Kelvin Sampson's staff.
After all, this is a player who averaged a modest 12.5 points, four assists and two steals as a junior, someone who didn't emerge as a high Division I recruit until he put together a huge summer AAU effort that sent his stock soaring. He ultimately settled in at No. 53 on Scout.com's national rankings, including a No. 8 ranking among point guards nationally.
So…just how important is Teague to the IU staff?
A whole lot bigger than his 6-1, 170-pound frame might indicate.
There might be players listed ahead of him on various service's player rankings, but Jeff Teague is a critical recruit for Sampson and his staff for three reasons.
On one front, Indiana needs to add a point guard in the 2007 class. The Hoosiers will lose Earl Calloway at season's end, leaving Armon Bassett as the only point guard on next year's roster. There might be a couple of players on next year's team who can slide over and play the point at times, but Sampson doesn't want to have only one true point guard at his disposal.
Secondly, Teague is expected to be a four-year player at the collegiate level. The same can't be said for Rose or Gordon.
As good as Chicago Simeon's Derrick Rose is, he's viewed by most as a one-and-done player, someone who's biding his time and waiting for the green light to head to the NBA. There had been speculation from those close to Rose that he'd even consider playing overseas next season, a decision that would free him up to sign a lucrative shoe contract while waiting to become eligible to declare for the NBA Draft.
There hasn't been any talk of Gordon bypassing college altogether, but the North Central H.S. star is also viewed as someone with NBA Lottery pick potential in 2008, making it hard to imagine he'll spend a great deal of time on any college campus.
Finally, Teague is a coveted in-state player. Purdue Coach Matt Painter grabbed plenty of headlines earlier this summer by securing verbal commitments from Valpo's Scott Martin and Robbie Hummel, Gary's E'Twaun Moore and Franklin Central's JuJuan Johnson. Indiana bounced back – and opened some new recruiting doors - with a couple of commitments from Chicago Public League products Jemarcus Ellis and Brandon McGhee, but Sampson also knows the long-term success of his IU program relies on getting the best players that the talent-laden state of Indiana has to offer.
So while much of the national recruiting attention will continue to revolve around Gordon and Rose, rest assured that the IU staff will be waiting anxiously for Teague's decision Friday.
Teague's Decision Looming
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