Once upon a time, worrying about scholarship offers, leaders, and favorite schools was about as pointless as trying to guess the test scores of LeBron James his senior year at St. Vincent/St. Mary's. However, times have changed and so has the attention to Ohio State basketball.
In a sport that has become year-round, college basketball recruiting is a hot topic even as early as a player's sophomore season. Even in Columbus these days.
For that matter, Ohio State and head coach Thad Matta already have a commitment from one of the nation's top freshmen in the high school ranks, B.J. Mullens of Harvest Prep in the tiny Ohio town of Canal Winchester, southeast of Columbus.
At the pace things have been going, Ohio State could soon start to revel in verbal commitments from some of the top players in the nation in the class of 2007. One of those players is Eric Gordon, ScoutHoops.com's top-ranked shooting guard in the country.
Gordon is a 6-3 guard from Indianapolis North Central who averaged 26 points a game this season as a sophomore. He was also among the area leaders in Indianapolis with nearly three steals a game.
Blessed with great quickness, a good handle, and an ability to get to the hoop, Gordon is a scoring guard that has attracted many top programs throughout the Midwest and also the nation.
Gordon, who plays AAU ball with Ohio State verbal commitment Daequan Cook and major recruiting targets Mike Conley and Greg Oden on the Spiece Indy Heat, recently named Ohio State as his leader in the recruiting process.
Monday evening, Bucknuts spoke with Gordon to get the scoop on his recruitment and find out the early returns on what teams he likes and what he knows about Ohio State.
Here is the interview:
Bucknuts: Talk about how the AAU ball is going for you, and kind of compare the differences between AAU and high school ball.
Eric Gordon: "Well, AAU is a lot different because it's the best competition every day and every game you play, and in high school it's more one-on-one and it becomes a little more about yourself when people are watching. I think I like AAU a little more."
BN: How much of a difference is it for you since on your high school team, you are the leading scorer and your team kind of expects and needs you to carry them on your back as far as scoring goes, but with Spiece, you've got Mike (Conley), Greg (Oden), Daequan (Cook), and all of these other talented players on your team, and you kind of just blend in…is that easier or harder for you?
EG: "I would say it's more easy because we've been playing together since last year, or at least I've been playing with them since last year and had always played against them, so I think I made a big change. We just know how to win together and play together and we just have fun with each other."
BN: Describe your game and how you would describe yourself as a player.
EG: "I would say I'm a good natural scorer. I have good scoring ability and that's honestly what I like to do. I'm also a good defensive player too."
BN: As far as your recruitment, what schools are you hearing a lot from and actively recruiting you?
EG: "Ohio State, Illinois, Kansas, Arizona, Missouri, and IU (Indiana)."
BN: And what are your favorites right now?
EG: "Ohio State, Illinois, and IU."
BN: Is there much pressure on you to stay in Indiana? I know a lot of kids lately seem to be leaving the state, and it has caused more pressure to retain kids within the state. Do you feel that same sort of pressure?
EG: "Well, I've always wanted to go to a school that's somewhere close to my home, but staying in Indiana doesn't really matter. I just want to stay close."
BN: I've heard that you've had a lot of interest in Ohio State lately. Does the fact that Daequan is going there and Mike and Greg might be going there really help a lot with the comfort level with them (Ohio State). And is it safe to assume that has helped put Ohio State high on your list?
EG: "Yeah most definitely. It's not just that either, I like the coaching staff and everything else that's going on down there. I'm just liking it a lot."
BN: Have you been to Ohio State yet, or gotten a chance to visit?
EG: "Yes I have. I got to visit last year (last fall). I made an unofficial visit last year."
BN: Tell me what you think of Coach Matta and the job you think he's done at Ohio State so far in his first year, and heading into the second.
EG: "Well, I think he did a good job this year in his first year there being at a big school and I think he did a great job and made a good run for a team that he hasn't coached with. I think he did a real good job with them and he shows that he really wants to win."
BN: It seems to me like you're going to go somewhere that likes to get up and down and push the ball a little bit?
EG: "Yes, that's true."
BN: Talk about another school on your list, Illinois, and the job they did this year. They are a school that plays the up-tempo style. Are they another school that fits the criteria for you?
EG: "I've always liked pushing it up and down because I think it helps getting you ready for things maybe you haven't been used to. I think those are the types of schools that fit me well, but my main focus is actually on the coach and how comfortable I feel with him."
BN: That leads me to my next question, what are the most important things for your decision?
EG: "Probably the coaching, the program, and the school and how comfortable I am with them."