Elston Talks Strength of Commitment, Hysteria

Bloomington, Ind. - Two days after being floored by the reception he received at Hoosier Hysteria, Class of '09 commit Derek Elston heard word about IU's violations and subsequent sanctions. Elston talked to HoosierNation.com about how solid his commitment is...

Bloomington, Ind. – Derek Elston is hoping for the best for the IU basketball program.

Two days after being awed by the 11,000-plus onlookers who turned out for Hoosier Hysteria, the Tipton, Ind., forward and '09 IU commit heard the news about the men's basketball programs recruiting violations involving a series of impermissible phone calls made by the coaching staff. As of Wednesday night he hadn't talked to anyone on the Hoosier staff about the situation, but he's hoping to do so soon.

"I've read about it in the paper, but I don't really know what's going on with it," Elston said. "I know there were some issues in the past, but (Coach Kelvin Sampson's) a good guy and it doesn't get to me that much."

For the time being, the 6'8", 205-pound forward said his IU commitment remains solid, and the only way he could see that changing is if the NCAA handed out some much more severe sanctions than the self-imposed ones IU officials announced Sunday.

"I'm not concerned about it now, but if it got to be a big-time trouble thing, then it would be a concern," Elston said. "Me and my dad have been talking, and if it somehow stopped them from going to the (NCAA) Tournament, then maybe I would have to reconsider things."

For the time being that seems unlikely, and when the dust settles Elston expects to be in Bloomington in the fall of 2009 playing for Sampson in front of a raucous and supportive fan base at Assembly Hall.

Elston got a taste of that atmosphere Friday night when he was one of 12-15 recruits seated courtside for Hoosier Hysteria. While his hometown of Tipton is less than two hours away from Assembly Hall, he was still caught off guard by the reception he received.

He said as soon as he walked in the Assembly Hall doors with his parents and IU Assistant Coach Jeff Meyer he was greeted by applause, autograph seekers and well-wishers, most of whom already knew who he was. During the Hoosiers' season-opening practice the IU fan base also chanted his name on at least one occasion.

"I wasn't expecting all of that," Elston said. "I actually got a little sweaty. I still have two years of high school left and they're already chanting my name. That's crazy."

The first player in the '09 class to commit to IU, Elston is the 69th-ranked player in the class according to Scout.com. He's coming off a big sophomore season when he averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds while also leading his team in assists, blocks and steals.

That sort of production caught the attention of IU staff's, and his spring and summer play with his AAU team made it clear to them that Elston was someone they wanted in an IU uniform. Indiana offered and Elston accepted the first week of September.

"(Indiana) was probably my second choice originally after North Carolina (where his father played)," Elston said. "Then after I took that (IU) school visit, it was a match maker. I couldn't say no to what they did for me, what they're going to do for me in the future. It was special."

Elston's mother, Christina, has been equally impressed by IU and in particular Sampson. If there was any doubt how much the second-year IU coach thought about her son, she said he erased that with a recent trip to Tipton to see him workout.

In a day that also included a flight to Connecticut to see Devin Ebanks play and then a return to Indiana so he could drive to Washington, Ind., to make an in-home visit with Tyler Zeller, Sampson was in Tipton at 6 a.m. to watch the future Hoosier workout.

"He said it's great to not have to long for him, being able to watch (Derek) knowing he's ours,'" she said. "You could tell he was very relieved to have Derek's commitment."

Now, the Elstons are hoping everything works out for Sampson and the IU staff in the wake of the recent news surrounding the improper phone calls.

"We've got coach Sampson and his staff in our prayers," she said. "We know this is something important for the whole university."

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