Hoosiers Extend Early Offer to Byrd

IU Coach Kelvin Sampson landed the state's best '07 recruit in Eric Gordon, and he's already set his sights on one of Indiana's best for '09 - North Montgomery's D.J. Byrd...

D.J. Byrd remembers the first recruiting letter he received.

That first piece of recruiting correspondence for the 6-5, 205-pound sophomore from Crawfordsville (Ind.) North Montgomery H.S. came more than a year ago, before he'd even played his first high school basketball game. That letter came from Ohio State Coach Thad Matta, although it came to Byrd in a roundabout way.

"It was actually sent to the wrong school and it had to brought by the other school's coach to our place," recalls Byrd.

Since then, just about every coach around the Midwest has become well aware of Byrd's locale, as well as his abilities as a player. He's averaging 21 points and seven rebounds for North Montgomery, which is off to a 9-1 start and ranked fourth in Class 2A.

Among the schools showing interest is Indiana, which has already extended a scholarship offer to the Class of 2009 standout. Byrd said the Hoosiers are one of two programs to offer, along with Xavier. He's also receiving interest from Ohio State and Purdue, among others.

While being a Division I basketball player is the goal for Byrd, he's not allowing himself to relax now that he has a couple of scholarship offers in hand.

"You can't just say I got a letter, I got an offer, I'm going to coast from here," said Byrd, who carries a near 4.0 grade point average as well. "That's not going to work. You have to keep getting better and see how good you can get. You don't want to stop short."

The Indiana coaching staff, meanwhile, has been impressed with what they've seen from Byrd on the Indiana Elite AAU squad as well as what he's done in North Montgomery H.S. Assistant coaches Ray McCallum and Jeff Meyer have both been up to see him play this winter, and Byrd was in Bloomington in mid-October for Hoosier Hysteria.

"I've visited there unofficially, and I liked it," said Byrd, who is hoping to make it to Wednesday's Indiana-Purdue game. "I went to Hoosier Hysteria and really enjoyed my time there, so there's definitely interest in IU."

While in town, Byrd talked with IU Coach Kelvin Sampson about his vision for the program and his thoughts about luring in-state players to the Bloomington campus.

"I talked to coach Sampson about that on-campus, and I agree with what he said – he thinks you grow up in this state, and you want to represent the state that you grow up in," Byrd said. "That's what Indiana wants to do – get players from in-state, and I agree with that."

Byrd has also liked what he's seen from Indiana on the court, and more specifically from Sampson in how he works the sidelines during games.

"You can tell he loves to coach," Byrd said. "I've been to a couple of games and he's always talking, telling them what to do. He has that enthusiasm and gets his team going. I like that."

Despite the mutual interest, don't expect a decision from Byrd anytime soon. He's still nearly two years from being able to sign a national letter of intent, and he's going to let some more time pass before he's ready to make a pledge to any college program.

"I've had conversations with my coach and parents, and I think it's too early," Byrd said. "So I'm just going along and we'll see how things unfold, and I guess I'll make a decision later."

College coaches aren't the only ones showing Byrd plenty of attention. North Montgomery's opponents have also taken notice of Byrd's abilities, and they've used a variety of defensive looks to try to contain the high-scoring sophomore.

"I've noticed some box and ones, sometimes I'll get double or triple teamed in the post," Byrd said. "But that just opens things up for other players. I don't mind it. The more I can screen, the guy on me won't help off me, so I can get my teammates free for open jumpers. We can tear their defenses down and then they have to figure something else out."

Additional Note: Byrd's North Montgomery coach, Scott Radeker, was an assistant coach for eight years at Noblesville H.S., where he coached former IU guard Tom Coverdale.

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