Bloomington – It didn't take Maurice Sutton long to get noticed.
Sure, a 6-10, 210-pound 18-year-old is always going to stand out in a crowd. But the Upper Maryland, Md., standout was a familiar face to at least one Hoosier fan long before he set foot in Assembly Hall Friday night to play in the Adidas May Classic.
Shortly after his flight landed in Indiana for the AAU tournament and an IU unofficial visit, Sutton stopped at Subway for something to eat and immediately had someone recognize him as the player who Tom Crean has targeted to help fill out the 2008 recruiting class.
"Someone came up and said, ‘wow, you're Maurice Sutton,'" Sutton said. "I have to admit, it made me happy."
While Sutton stood out at Subway, he also stood out at Assembly Hall Friday night. His play off the bench helped lead Indiana Elite's LNO squad to a 66-58 come-from-behind win over a talented SoCal All-Stars team. Sutton scored 11 points in the second quarter to help LNO get out a 24-10 hole, and finished with 15 points, five rebounds, and three blocks.
He did it all despite not getting an Indiana Elite jersey until just minutes before the start of the game. Sutton went through warm-ups in jeans and a t-shirt, but a No. 5 jersey was located just in time. Sutton started things off with a 15-foot jumper from the free-throw line and wound up scoring in a variety of ways. One of his best plays was when he stepped in front of a pass on the wing and took it the length of the court for a fastbreak dunk.
While Sutton is clearly slender, he showed off a nice shooting touch and excellent shot blocking ability to go along with an ability to pass the basketball as well.
Those are things that IU Coach Tom Crean saw first when he was at Marquette and now that he's at Indiana. While Sutton has impressed Crean, Indiana has impressed Sutton as well. His visit won't take place until Monday, but he said he's already been impressed with what he's seen in Bloomington.
"I was looking around when I walked in the gym, the five national championships, that says it all," Sutton said.
Sutton's team played at Assembly Hall, an opportunity that wasn't lost on the Largo H.S. standout.
"It's really special – a lot of history here," Sutton said. "I'm talking about the greats, Isiah Thomas, everybody."
While the opportunity to play in Assembly Hall was a treat, Sutton's unofficial visit with Crean is probably the most important part of this weekend's trip from the East Coast. Sutton saw Crean when he entered the building Friday, but the two were unable to talk due to NCAA rules prohibiting contact at this time of year. They'll be able to meet Monday when the tournament comes to a close, and Sutton expects to take a campus tour with Crean to find out more about IU academically as well what IU has to offer on the basketball court.
Sutton is well aware of the troubles that have besieged the IU program following the NCAA allegations against Kelvin Sampson's staff and his subsequent departure, but he also appears to have faith in the players who are coming in and the coach in charge of the program. He said he's good friends with '09 commit Maurice Creek, and he said he was impressed with Verdell Jones' skills when the two played together at a Kentucky Elite Camp.
Crean, meanwhile, has impressed Sutton with not only his coaching abilities but also by sticking with him throughout the recruiting process>
"Coach Crean is a hell of a coach, he can come in and turn it around," Sutton said.
Sutton said he still plans on making a visit to Villanova next week before making a decision. But he wouldn't rule out the possibility of committing to IU during his weekend in town.
"That could be a possibility," Sutton said. "Anything is possible. It's whatever feels right."
Sutton Impresses at Assembly Hall
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