Bloomington, Ind. – James Kinney is just like a lot of talented preps from the state of Illinois.
He's paying more attention and taking a lot closer look at Indiana and Coach Kelvin Sampson.
The 6'1" point guard from Champaign's Centennial H.S. has been getting plenty of interest from the Hoosiers, which should come as no surprise considering the efforts Indiana has been making in Illinois.
Sampson's first IU recruiting class features three Illinois products in Jamarcus Ellis, DeAndre Thomas and Brandon McGee. In the yet-to-be completed Class of 2008, the IU staff continues to target Peoria shooting guard Matt Roth and Chicago-area big men Josh Crittle and Stan Simpson.
When it comes to 2009, IU has been keeping close tabs on Kinney, Peoria wing D.J. Richardson and Eureka big man Jordan Prosser.
"I've noticed that since (Mike) Davis left Indiana and Coach Sampson came in, there are a lot of players that weren't giving Indiana a look at first and now they are," Kinney said. "They have that level of coach now that they are seriously considering Indiana. We saw what happened with Eric Gordon with him changing his mind and the kind players he's bringing in.
That and the success he had at Oklahoma has a lot to do with it."
Kinney is following suit. He said there's been talk of him coming to Bloomington in October for Midnight Madness, an event that is also expected to include Elizabeth, N.J., point guard Dexter Strickland, among others. He's been getting plenty of letters from the IU staff as well, although no scholarship offer has come to date.
"I have to talk to Coach (Rob) Senderoff about that," Kinney said about Midnight Madness. "They've been showing a decent among out interest in me."
Indiana is one of a handful of Midwestern schools that is keeping tabs on Kinney, who averaged 15 points and five assists while helping Centennial to a 19-9 record as a sophomore. He said, Illinois, Southern Illinois and Xavier have been showing the most interest, while Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa have also been in contact.
To date, Kinney's only scholarship offer is from North Dakota State, but that will likely change in the not-too-distant future. Most college coaches didn't get much of a chance to see him play over the summer due to a couple of injuries that limited him in June and July, but he's back to full strength and preparing for his junior season of high school.
"A couple of programs have talked about offering, but they want to see me play a little bit more," Kinney said.
What those programs will likely see is a guard who is capable of handling either guard spot. Kinney said he spent most of his time play off the ball while growing up, but he made the move to point guard a year ago because that's the position he'll likely spend most of his time at at the collegiate level.
"The switch was tough at first because I'm used to getting shots and not having to work to get others involved before looking for my shot," Kinney said. " But I think it's been a real good move for me. A lot of teams like to run three guards, and I can be a lead guard, off guard, either one."
Midnight Madness in Kinney's Future?
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