It's nearly D-Day for Derrick Rose.
The 6-2, 180-pound point guard from Chicago's Simeon H.S. will announce his college decision Saturday, presumably selecting between Indiana, Illinois and Memphis. The sixth-ranked player in the nation according to Scout.com, Rose is the highest ranked player still available in the '07 class, an elite point guard who has had interest from programs from coast to coast.
His finalists include an IU program with a new coach and another elite freshman guard already in the mix in Eric Gordon; a Memphis program that has been on his radar longer than anyone and has a coach who would likely give Rose the freedom he's looking for; and an Illinois program that had been eliminated earlier in the recruiting process, only to resurface as a potential destination within the last three weeks.
So where's Rose headed? We won't know for sure until 7 p.m. Saturday night, but here's a look at the three finalists, ranked in order of who we think has the best shot of luring him to their college campus…
1. Memphis – Rose appears to be a one-and-done player, and Memphis Coach John Calipari's wide-open, up-and-down offense will give Rose the opportunity to showcase his skills for professional scouts early in his career. After all, Calipari has coached the likes of DaJuan Wagner and most recently Shawne Williams, a pair of highly-ranked preps who spent one year in the Tiger program before parlaying one season at the college ranks into NBA riches as first-round NBA Draft picks.
Throughout the recruiting process, the talk of the "next level" has been a common theme during conversations with Rose and his brother, Reggie Rose, and understandably so – Rose has NBA-caliber point guard skills and a frame that is as close to NBA-ready as you'll find in an 18-year-old guard. If Rose's decision is going to be based primarily on which school will afford him the freedom to showcase his considerable skills and thus the opportunity to make the jump to the NBA the fastest, it's hard to see him donning anything other than a Memphis Tiger hat Saturday night.
Odds He'll Pick Memphis: 50%
2. Illinois – It was just two months ago that Rose supposedly eliminated the Fighting Illini from consideration, coming forward with a list of five finalists that didn't include Coach Bruce Weber's program. That took many by surprise, and provided further ammunition to Weber's recruiting critics who were growing increasingly alarmed that he was unable to lure the Windy City's best to Champaign.
That all changed in October, when Rose took a surprise unofficial visit to Champaign for an Illini scrimmage. Rose's brother, Reggie, originally said it was nothing more than a "second look" at the homestate school, and that his brother would still be making his final decision between Memphis and Indiana. But he later admitted the Illini were back in the running, and it appears there's a viable chance Rose could wind up playing for the Illini and against his AAU teammate, Eric Gordon.
What prompted Rose's renewed interest? It's hard to say for sure. Perhaps he heard about the hero's welcome Gordon received when he committed to the homestate Hoosiers and wanted to receive that same sort of treatment on his own visit. Or maybe it's the fact Weber does have a short but successful run of developing top-flight college guards, most notably first-round picks Deron Williams and Luther Head along with second-round pick Dee Brown.
Odds He'll Pick Illinois: 30%
3. Indiana – Derrick Rose is arguably the premier point guard in the 2007 class, and few coaches lean on their point guard as much as IU's Kelvin Sampson. The Hoosier coach relies on his floor general to spearhead his team's efforts on both ends of the floor, and he has a need for one in this year's recruiting class thanks to the departure of Earl Calloway at season's end.
The Hoosiers' other draw appears to be the presence of Gordon, a part-time AAU teammate of Rose's this past summer on the Illinois-based Mean Streets squad. The two elite backcourt players developed a bond over the summer, and there was initially speculation they could form one of the best freshman backcourts in recent memory at Illinois. Of course, once Gordon began to waver and started considering Indiana, it wound up being Bloomington where they would have the opportunity to play alongside each other.
While Gordon's presence in Bloomington was originally a big draw, there could also be a downside. Players of Rose's notoriety don't necessarily like playing second fiddle to anyone, and the in-stater Gordon will continue to be the biggest name in many IU fans' minds in this class. The in-roads Sampson's staff have made in Chicago are huge, but Indiana fans have been longing to start attracting the state' best to Bloomington once again, and Gordon has been given a hero's welcome thanks to his decision.
Odds He'll Pick Indiana: 20%
Where is Rose Headed?
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