Elston Talks About IU Unofficial

BLOOMINGTON – The awkward silence between Derek Elston and Tom Crean finally came to an end Sunday. The '09 IU commit talks about his unofficial visit to Bloomington as well as what Crean thought about his performance at the Top 100 Showcase in Indianapolis over the weekend...

BLOOMINGTON – The awkward silence between Derek Elston and Tom Crean finally came to an end Sunday.

On Saturday, the first-year Hoosier coach and the IU signee from Tipton, Ind., found themselves together at both Lawrence North H.S. for a clinic and at Ben Davis H.S. for the IBCA's Top 100 Showcase, but were unable to even exchange pleasantries. While NCAA rules allow college coaches to evaluate high school prospects in April, they're unable to talk with them at these events.

"The fact I couldn't have a conversation was kind of nerve-racking," said the 6-8, 215-pound Elston. "I wanted to check up and see how I was doing with him, but knew I couldn't. So that kind of made me mad."

But that silence came to a halt Sunday when Elston and his mother made an unofficial visit to IU to meet with Crean face-to-face for the first time. To Elston, the trip reaffirmed his decision to play basketball for the Hoosiers beginning in the fall of 2009.

"Once Coach (Kelvin) Sampson left, my decision about IU was in the back of my mind," said Elston. "Is this what I really want to do now that he's gone? But since Coach Crean stepped up, I'm definitely down for the ride."

Elston is a big get for the Hoosiers. He averaged 19.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists as a junior, helping Tipton to a 21-3 mark. He'll head into his senior season as one of the pre-season favorites for Indiana's Mr. Basketball award along with Stephan VanTreese and D.J. Byrd.

While the status of Elston's scholarship never appeared to be in doubt, there was some concern if Crean would be as enthusiastic as Sampson was about his abilities. But that uncertainty was put to rest during Sunday's unofficial visit when Crean talked about Elston's performance at the Top 100 Showcase.

"He talked about how he was so happy that I was the first one he saw for the Class of '09," Elston said. "He said he was excited, but didn't really want to show it at the Top 100. He said he had a big old smile sometimes because of some of the things I was doing, but he couldn't really show it."

Crean might not have been bubbling over with emotion Saturday, but it was obvious he was keeping a very close eye on the future Hoosiers as he sat courtside for most of his station drills and games.

"It kind of made me nervous," Elston joked.

But it quickly became apparent that there was no reason for trepidation. Elston was clearly one of the best players at the Top 100 event, and Crean expounded on what he liked so much on Sunday.

"He said he didn't know I could pull up and shoot like I did," Elston said. "He said he knew I could do it, but he didn't know that I could do it as well as I did. He also said he really liked my will to go to the basket and rebound at both ends. He said he was really impressed with that."

Elston said he also got a couple of pointers from Crean on things to work on.

"He said I had a nice one dribble pull up, and he'd like me to get to two-dribble pull-up," Elston said. "He was also talking about how I need to lower my shoulder when I drive. He said if I do those two things, I'll be able to drive on anyone."

While the tips are things Elston took back home with him to Tipton to work on during the off-season, the biggest thing he got out of his trip to Bloomington was a degree of comfort about his decision to stick with his IU pledge and not re-open his recruitment.

"He has a lot of energy and I'm excited to play for him," Elston said. "My mom really liked him as well. I don't know if she's happier than ever, but she's really excited for me to have Coach Crean as my coach, and I am too."

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