Indiana is going to great lengths to try to land East Chicago (Ind.) standout Angel Garcia.
As in half way around the world.
Indiana Assistant Coach Rob Senderoff traveled more than 5,000 miles to Novi Sad, Serbia, to watch Garcia play with the Puerto Rican National Team in last month's Under-19 World Championships. While East Chicago is only a three-hour car drive from Bloomington, the 15-hour-plus plane flight showed Garcia just how committed the Hoosiers are bringing him to Bloomington as part of their 2008 class.
As it turns out, Senderoff wasn't the only college assistant sitting courtside for Garcia's games. Memphis assistant Chucky Martin made the trans-Atlantic journey as well. Those two programs were rewarded for their persistence, as Garcia's AAU coach Eric Cole said Garcia has narrowed his list to those two programs.
"He really appreciates the fact they went to the time and effort to do that," Cole said. "That's not an easy trip – it's half way around the world. He knows those two programs really want him, and that's a big reason why he arrived at those final two."
In cutting his list to two, Garcia scratched Louisville and Florida from consideration. Now it's Kelvin Sampson's Hoosiers and John Calipari's Tigers that will battle it out for Scout.com's 36th-ranked player in the 2008 class.
While Senderoff and Martin have been Garcia's primary recruiters from their respective schools, Cole said that both Sampson and Calipari have been heavily involved as well. Calipari had a chance to spend three days with Garcia when he was in town for Memphis' Elite Camp this summer, and Sampson went to Dallas to see Garcia play in the Global Games in early July.
Cole said Garcia will likely make his decision within a month.
"I think it's going to boil down to seeing where he sees himself fitting in the best," Cole said. "Both teams have great players. Memphis is preseason No. 1 and Indiana is preseason top five. Both programs have it going on the recruiting end. So it's where he feels most comfortable as far as spending the next couple of years, or however long he's going to be there, whether it's one, two, three or four years."
When it comes to the Indiana program, Cole said location and the tradition are both big positives in Garcia's mind.
"What stands out about Indiana is it's close to his adopted home of East Chicago - all of us regionites would have a chance to see him play more," Cole said. "He also really likes the coaching staff there. He's been there three or four times already, and he loves the atmosphere there.
"We checked out a game last year, and who can't like Indiana after you check out a game? It's one of the top five places in college basketball."
Memphis' biggest draw might be a style of play that would give Garcia the freedom to show off his skills in the open court.
"He likes their facilities and coaching staff," Cole said. "He likes the system they run. Memphis' style of play is probably better suited for him just for the simple fact that both are talking about him playing power forward. Memphis is more up and down system, and Indiana is a little more of a motion oriented offense."
Cole did add, though, that IU has shown Garcia film of how they'd use him, and he thinks that could be a good fit as well.
"They showed him quite a bit of what Lance (Stemler) was doing, because that's the position he'd be playing," Cole said. "What they allowed Lance to do is basically everything Angel can do and is good at. So he fits in well there, too."
Garcia's Coach Talks About IU, Memphis
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