Elnora, Ind. – A glimpse out of the front doors of the North Daviess High School gymnasium revealed something out of the ordinary Tuesday night.
Just about any other day of the year there's little to see other than an ample supply of the amber waves of grain that the state and the area have long been known for. But on this blistering hot southern Indiana evening, Eric Gordon and five other IU-bound recruits brought a wave of Indiana-clad fans into this quaint Indiana town to see what all the fuss has been about with this year's IU recruiting class.
As has been the case at previous stops in New Albany and Batesville, the IU recruits were greeted by an energized crowd, most of whom were laying eyes on the IU-bound players for the first time. The enthusiasm was apparent early on, as some 2,000 early-arriving on-lookers stood on their feet in unison a half hour before the game when the IU fight song blared over the sound system.
"The place is packed," said Eli Holman afterwards. "What a great experience to be out here."
It was an equally exciting experience for the fans, and the recruits didn't disappoint. For the third straight time, the IU Recruit Team dismantled an out-manned squad of locals, pummeling the North Daviess Area All-Stars, 146-99.
Gordon did plenty of damage early, scoring 25 of his game-high 41 in the first half. Jamarcus Ellis, meanwhile, celebrated his 22nd birthday with his second triple double in three contests, finishing with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
"I think I played alright - it could have been better," said Ellis, who made 8-of-17 shots from the floor. "We just want to have an exciting game for the fans, a couple of oohs and ahhs. But we come out here and take the game of basketball seriously."
There were a smorgasbord of plays that had the 3,200 fans in attendance jumping to their feet. The Indiana Recruits finished with 17 dunks in the game, including a pair of fast break tomahawks from Gordon in the opening half. Gordon was equally electric from deep, connecting on 8-of-13 from 3-point range on a 16-of-25 shooting night.
Eli Holman, meanwhile, was dominant on the defensive end, totaling a team-best 14 rebounds and five blocks to go along with 25 points on 12-of-14 shooting.
In fact, every player on the IU recruit squad reached double figures. DeAndre Thomas (19 points and eight rebounds), Brandon McGee (17 points, six rebounds), Jordan Crawford (16 points, seven assists) and Ray McCallum, Jr. (10 points, three assists) all had their moments in a game that was played at a frenetic pace throughout.
The lone highlight for the North Daviess All-Stars was a desperation 35-foot heave by Josh Thompson at the first half horn sounded. But as Thompson retreated to the locker room and jokingly hoisted his finger signifying "No. 1," the Indiana All-Stars already owned a 27-point cushion, 74-47.
"I thought we did well," Holman said. "We worked as a team. No one was selfish, we passed the rock, we had good chemistry, we had a couple of laughs, and that's what basketball is all about – fun, chemistry, and winning."
The future Hoosiers did all of those things, both during the game and before. While warming up in the early going, Holman launched a handful of 3-pointers from just inside the front row of the bleachers, some 30 feet from the basket. DeAndre Thomas, meanwhile, hoisted a couple of fadeaway 3-pointers, the kind of shots both big men know they won't be getting away with once the team's practice for the Bahamas trip gets underway in a couple of weeks.
"I was playing around," Holman said, smiling. "I wouldn't do it in a game or in practice."
And if he did?
"I'd probably be sitting next to (Coach Kelvin Sampson) for the season," Holman said.
The time will come for this group to take things a bit more seriously. But for now, they're enjoying the opportunity to play in front of smalltown crowds that provide a glimpse of how passionate the state is about the IU program.
It's also providing them with an opportunity to get familiar with each other long before the 2007-08 season gets underway.
"It helps a lot," Holman said. "These are the games I can work on my weaknesses and my strengths. We can get out here, have fun and build the kind of chemistry that can hopefully help us win a national championship this year."
INDIANA RECRUITS 146
Thomas 9-18 1-3 19, Crawford 6-16 4-4 16, Ellis 8-17 1-2 18, Gordon 16-25 1-1 41, McGee 8-13 0-0 17, Holman 12-14 1-2 25, McCallum 4-6 1-2 10. Totals 63-109 9-14 146.
NORTH DAVIESS ALL-STARS 99
Thompson 2-8 0-2 5, Sinclair 4-12 26 12, Bettis 6-15 1-2 15, Baker 1-2 0-0 2, Schoen 2-9 0-0 6, Schumacher 4-12 2-6 11, Carmichael 3-11 0-0 7, Witney 1-2 0-0 2, Garrison 1-3 0-0 2, Ramsey 8-15 2-3 21. Totals 38-100 7-19 99.
3-Pointers: IU Recruits 11-23 (Gordon 8-13, McGee 1-3, Ellis 1-3, McCallum 1-2, Thomas 0-1, Crawford 0-1), North Daviess 16-50 (Duncheon 4-8, Ramsey 3-5, Sinclair 2-7, Bettis 2-6, Schoen 2-8, Thompson 1-4, Carmichael 1-7, Schumacher 1-3, Baker 0-1, Garrison 0-1). Rebounds: IU Recruits 62 (Holman 14, Ellis 12), North Daviess 54 (Bettis 11, Ramsey 11). Assists: IU Recruits 24 (Ellis 10), North Daviess 14 (Bettis 3). Turnovers: IU Recruits 6, North Daviess 18. Blocks: IU Recruits 9 (Holman 5, McGee 2, Ellis 1, Gordon 1), North Daviess 1 (Bettis). Halftime Score: IU Recruits 74-47. Attendance: 3,200.
Gordon's 41 Keys Recruits In N. Daviess Win
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