2009 Intro: Derek Elston

Derek Elston had a breakout summer. Playing for the SYF Indiana Rising Stars he managed to grab the attention of college coaches – including the staff at UNC, a school to which Elston has family ties.

"He got a lot stronger from the previous years," Rising Stars coach David Hamilton said. "He's got great potential and he shoots the ball extremely well. He had a great year and we did well as a team."

"It was probably my best year," said Elston, a 6-8 forward who attends Tipton (Ind.) High. "I was kind of [concerned] in the beginning when I joined that team, but I've just gradually worked my way up. I felt real good with the ball and I was hitting open shots. I thought I played pretty well."

His impressive play led to offers from Indiana, Purdue, Bradley and Southern Illinois. Butler and Iowa also told him that if he visits, they'd offer as well.

"It's been a phenomenal year in terms of the interest he has received and I'm sure it's because of how he played," Hamilton said.

To go with the scholarship offers, North Carolina, Clemson, Virginia, Valparaiso, Illinois, Nebraska and Xavier are also recruiting Elston, who averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds per game last season.

The Tar Heels have an interesting connection with Elston. Derek's father, Darrell, played at North Carolina and the younger Elston likes the idea of following in his father's footsteps.

"I'll always love North Carolina," he said. "I would love to play at the same school as my dad, but if I don't then what can I do?"

Although the Heels have just show initial interest at this stage, Elston did stop by campus and took an unofficial visit in May during the Tournament of Champions. Since then he's seen the UNC staff at a pair of his games and has been in contact with their staff.

"I've gotten a couple of letters and they've called me, but as far as the summer I didn't really see them much at my games," Elston said. "I talked to [UNC assistants] Coach [Steve] Robinson and Coach [Jerod] Haase. They told me that they liked the way I played and they asked me if I really liked their school."

Elston is also high on Purdue. Recently he took a visit to West Lafayette and he came away impressed with what Matt Painter and his staff have to offer.

"I didn't expect that much going in, but then I got there I was amazed," he said. "I didn't think it would be like that. It was really, really nice."

Like the Boilermakers, Indiana is also heavily involved. The Hoosiers will get their chance to impress Elston next weekend (Sept. 8th), as they'll host him for an unofficial visit.

Elston's unofficial visits could end up being a major factor in his decision. The plan was for him to wait out the process, however that could change.

"My dad and I were talking about it and we thought it might be best to wait until after my junior year, but I'm starting to think I may make it sooner."

Derek Elston Profile

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