Hoosiers steadily gaining ground with Ebanks

As a native of Queens, New York, blue-chip basketball recruit Devin Ebanks was pretty curious about his trip to the state of Indiana. This weekend the talented 6-foot-8 small forward took his game to the Adidas May Classic in Bloomington. It gave him a chance to take a close look at the IU program and his impressive visit may have put the Hoosiers in the driver's seat of this recruiting race.

As a native of Queens, New York, blue-chip basketball recruit Devin Ebanks was pretty curious about his trip to the state of Indiana. This weekend the talented 6-foot-8 small forward took his game to the Adidas May Classic as a member of the Team Takeover AAU squad. While he has his eyes on winning a trophy, he's also focused on checking out the Hoosier basketball program and the atmosphere of Bloomington in general.

"I watched the movie Hoosiers so I am thinking ‘OK, I am going to a basketball state," said Ebanks.

While he knew that Indiana was serious about its basketball, Ebanks definitely wanted to check things out for himself. His expectations were met and exceeded this weekend when he met the IU players and spent time mingling with students and fans in Bloomington.

"It definitely has (met expectations)," said Ebanks.

"(Indiana) is up there right along with Miami. I would probably have to say that they are neck-and-neck now because before I had seen Miami but I hadn't seen here. Now I have seen here and I like what I see here."

It didn't taken long for Indiana Coach Kelvin Sampson and his staff to make great strides in the recruitment of Ebanks. Getting him on campus this weekend has proven to be a major coup. On Friday night Ebanks got the royal treatment from the Indiana staff as they continue to take advantage of one of the nation's top AAU tournaments being held right in their backyard.

"I met with Coach Sampson and the whole coaching staff and met the athletic director, and some of the players," said Ebanks. "What they had to say was pretty good. I went out with E.J. (Eric Gordon) and Armon Bassett to eat (Friday) night. So I like it here. Indiana is definitely at the top of my list right now.

The fact that the Hoosiers have shot up Ebanks short list so quickly is a little surprising. Just months ago most assumed that the New York native was a lock for the Miami Hurricanes, the first school to really recruit him hard.

"(Miami Head Coach) Frank Haith actually started calling me awhile ago," said Ebanks. "He recruited me and not their assistant coaches and I took heed to that because normally the head coaches don't do that. He called me and he started recruiting me so that was big."

The Hoosier coaching staff thought they might be too late with their interest in Ebanks, but they now find themselves frontrunners for Scout.com's 8th-ranked player nationally.

"Actually, the coaches called Kenny (Gantman) to ask if they could get in, because they thought Miami was at the top of my list and that I was about to commit," said Ebanks.

Gantman is a 2001 graduate of Indiana University and now helps coach Ebanks on the AAU circuit. It was Gantman, along with Ebank's mother, who convinced the young player to make sure he took a long look at all his options before committing. That allowed the Hoosiers to enter the equation.

"They (started recruiting me) a little bit later, about at the beginning of my junior year," said Ebanks, who has now warmed up quickly to the IU coaching staff an their overtures.

"Coach Sampson texted me and definitely Coach (Rob) Senderoff (played a role in the recruitment). He's a good guy and more of a good person first and then a coach. He's a real cool person and if I came I would like for him to be my coach. He's from New York so that also helps a little bit.

"It's really family-oriented here. Coach (Sampson) talked about family a lot when we talked to him."

There's no doubt the Hoosiers would like to add Ebanks to their basketball family. His impressive skills were on full display Saturday in Assembly Hall as he helped his team to another easy win by putting up a routine 32 points against St. Louis Gateway.

The ease with which the lanky big man puts the ball on the floor in traffic and gets to the rim has reminded many scouts of Rudy Gay or even Kevin Durant. While Ebanks certainly has to put a lot more polish on his game to make those comparisons ring true, it's easy to see why he remains one of the most highly-sought players in his class.

"I'm a basketball player, I play all positions," said Ebanks. "I can play anywhere, but probably the two or three is where I am going to be playing at."

The one area of his game trailing all the others is his defense, but Ebanks says he has already spent a lot of time talking about that end of the floor with the defensive-minded Sampson.

"He's a hard-working coach," said Ebanks. "I think if I come here he will help me with my defense. He said he is a defensive coach and I need to work on my defense. That will be a main key there."

The Hoosiers are certainly an intriguing option for the versatile Ebanks, but he's not ready to make any hasty decisions at this moment.

"Me and my family plan to do is make a decision after the summer and after the AAU season," said Ebanks. "That's what we are looking at. That's our timetable right now, because this whole recruiting thing is giving us all a headache so we are just trying to get it over with."

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