Bloomington, Ind. – Something looked familiar to IU Coach Kelvin Sampson about Bud Mackey.
The 6-4, 180-pound Scott County (Ky.) H.S. standout was in Bloomington over the summer for one of the Hoosiers' elite camps and the first-year Hoosier coach saw some traits in Mackey that reminded him a great deal of one his best players when he was at Oklahoma.
"He told me I reminded him of Hollis Price," Mackey said.
Price was a four-year starter for Sampson with the Sooners, scoring more than 1,800 career points and earning first-team All-America honors as a senior. He also helped lead Oklahoma to 111 wins during his four years in Norman and a berth in the 2002 Final Four.
Comparisons were nothing new to Mackey, who said others have said he reminds them of former Kentucky guard Rajon Rondo. Little did Sampson know, though, that the Price reference would strike a chord with Mackey.
"He was my favorite player," Mackey said of Price. "The way he moved and the way he led his team. He was a small dude, but he did it with a big heart, and wouldn't back down from anybody."
In the not-too-distant future, Mackey will have the chance to see just how valid those comparisons are after he verbally committed to Sampson Thursday night. A four-star recruit according to Scout.com, Mackey said he ultimately picked IU over Xavier and he's now the first member of IU's 2008 recruiting class.
Of course, the Price comparison was just one of many things that led Mackey to verbal to the Hoosiers. He was in Bloomington last week for Hoosier Hysteria, an event that left quite an impression on him. He said the Bloomington campus and town were big selling points, but what he witnessed at the Hoosiers' season-opening practice probably put IU over the top.
"I saw a whole bunch of crazy fans," Mackey said. "That surprised me. I didn't realize how big of a basketball town it is – that was beautiful."
Mackey said he also came away impressed with the coaching staff. First and foremost was Sampson, the first-year Indiana coach who has wrapped up commitments from Mackey and 2007 elite guard Eric Gordon in the last week.
"Coach Sampson is a great guy," Mackey said. "He's everything I'm looking for in a coach. He seems like a great coach, and he's into me. He committed to me, so I committed to him. We'll feed off each other. He looks at me as a person instead of just a Hoosier basketball player."
Mackey was a 15 points/game scorer as a sophomore at Scott County H.S. and he then upped that total to 20 points/game during his team's playoff run. He's also a defensive stopper, something that undoubtedly appealed to the Hoosiers' head coach.
But the Price comparisons weren't just about what Mackey could do on the offensive and defense ends of the floor. Sampson seems to see some other characteristics in Mackey that he values every bit as much.
"Coach Sampson said I'd be a great leader for him," Mackey said, "and when I leave Indiana everyone will remember my name."
Comparison Resonates With Mackey
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