Bloomington, Ind. – Finally - Eric Gordon appears just days away from making his collegiate decision, once and for all.
Well, make that second and presumably for all…
A year ago, the North Central H.S. shooting guard pledged to Illinois Coach Bruce Weber, inserting the latest dagger into the side of IU fans who've watched in-state superstars such as Josh McRoberts, Greg Oden and Mike Conley bolt for the border when making their collegiate choices in recent years. Like Oden and Conley, Gordon had not only said no thanks to IU, but he'd also opted to provide an annual reminder of the Hoosiers' recruiting failures by playing for a neighboring Big Ten foe.
Exit Mike Davis, and enter Kelvin Sampson.
Upon Sampson's arrival, the former Oklahoma coach made Gordon a priority, to say the least. Thanks to Sampson and IU assistant coach Jeff Meyer – Eric Gordon Sr.'s collegiate head coach at Liberty - the Hoosiers have re-emerged as a potential destination for the 6-3, 185-pound shooting guard. Neither Eric nor his father have ever said that, but their actions certainly suggest they're giving IU a long, serious look.
First it was a summer trip to Bloomington for the family for one of Sampson's Elite Camps. That trip created an uproar, but the Gordons were able to downplay it by pointing out that Gordon's younger brother, Evan, was participating and they had simply come to town to watch him play.
While that explanation was believable, Gordon's follow-up trip to Bloomington made it clear he was in fact considering playing for the Hoosiers. Late last month Gordon made a much ballyhooed unofficial visit to Bloomington along with AAU teammate and elite point guard Derrick Rose, a trip that drew plenty of IU fans out to welcome the backcourt duo while also raising the eyebrows (and possibly the blood pressure) of Weber.
Weber is making every effort to get Gordon to stick with his Illinois commitment, visiting North Central H.S. a week ago and then welcoming Gordon and his family this past weekend for an unofficial visit for Illinois' football game against Syracuse. But it doesn't appear there were any assurances from the Gordons that Eric would in fact wind up with the Illini, something that has Illini fans feeling uneasy, to say the least.
The end result of Gordon's recruitment likely won't be known until later this week, but it's clear this has become the top recruiting story of the '07 class, even topping that of O.J. Mayo. It's also added plenty of intrigue to a rivalry that will be rekindled Jan. 23 when the two teams meet in Champaign. Expect the pre-game handshake between Weber and Sampson to be as closely watched and scrutinized as the nationally-televised game itself considering everything that has unfolded this summer.
It's been a summer of finger pointing between coaches and fans alike. Illinois' camp has accused Sampson and his staff of questionable ethics since Gordon had already pledged to the Illini. Indiana has insisted he's fair game since Sampson wasn't in Bloomington when Gordon committed, and the Gordon family hasn't done anything to dissuade the IU staff from inquiring about his interest in the Hoosier program.
It's been a sometimes ugly, always drama-filled battle for a player who is unquestionably the best player in the state of Indiana, and might just be the best player in the nation as well.
And it's all about to come to an end.
DECKER: Finally - Gordon Decision Coming
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