Gordon Comfortable in the Spotlight

He might be only 18 years old, but IU-bound guard Eric Gordon is already a celebrity in the Hoosier State. Indiana's Mr. Basketball talks about being in the spotlight and preparing to wear the cream and crimson next season.

Ellettsville, Ind. - When it comes to Indiana basketball, there's no doubt that Indianapolis native Eric Gordon is already a Hoosier celebrity. The unusually talented shooting guard from nearby North Central High School has been considered one of the best players in the country his age for so long that he hardly remembers his anonymous days. Perhaps that's why the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Gordon simply shrugs off the immense scrutiny that has followed his every move for the past two years.

"It's no big deal," said Gordon, who seemingly has already shaken as many hands in this state as the governor.

"I know there's a lot of pressure, but I just don't worry about it. You just got to come out and play and bring something new if you can."

Bringing something new to the table is what has made Gordon the top recruit in college basketball this season in many minds. It's not often that you see a player who is just as comfortable lofting up a 25-foot jump shot as he is attacking the rim with reckless abandon.

But that's Gordon in a nutshell. He can hurt you in so many ways that almost every team at the high school level was simply at his mercy. There's rarely been a well-rounded guard that plays the game this physical.

That notion was re-enforced last Wednesday at Edgewood High School just a mere ten minutes from the college gym Gordon will call his own next year. Wearing the No. 1 jersey, Indiana's Mr. Basketball emphatically showed once again that he is anything but a shrinking violet. With every eye in the gym trained on him and waiting for him to put on a signature performance and every defender trying anything and everything to stop him, Gordon didn't blink when his first two outside shots sailed far past the rim. Instead, he simply changed tactics.

"When the game gets physical like that it's better to take to the hole, because if you get a jumpshot they let you nick and hack you in the arm," said Gordon of the scrappy defense he was facing. "So I just used my physical ability to take over."

And when Gordon sets his mind on taking over a game loaded with high schoolers, it's a forgone conclusion that the other team is in serious trouble. With his muscular build and surprising quickness, Gordon is a load for a basketball player of any age. Once he gets a step on his defender he attacks seams in the defense with the ferocity of a fullback. Odds are that if you try to obstruct his path to the basket you will find yourself falling backwards in a hurry.

"Yeah, it just makes things easier during the game because you never know what somebody is going to do whether they or going to shoot a jumpshot or (go to the rim and) get fouled, you just never know," said Gordon of his versatility.

The incoming Hoosier freshman finished the night with 23 points, a whopping 17 of them coming at the charity stripe. While fans missed out on his impressive outside shooting touch, they were compensated with a lesson in physical domination.

"Whenever they tried to get it close I just took it (to the basket) every time," said Gordon. "My jumpshot wasn't there tonight really and I just had to take it to the hole. I had to adjust."

And so it was just that simple for Gordon on this night, who made sure his team was never seriously in danger of losing the game. But will things be as easy at the next level?

Certainly not, but if you think Gordon is going to be intimidated you're seriously misled. While he knows Hoosier fans are expecting him to come in and not just contribute right away, but shine, he says he is still immune to the pressure. That's because he is expecting even more from himself than the fans.

"I just got to work hard and listen to the coaches and I should be fine," said Gordon. "I have big plans, big plans."

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