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2012 Intro: A.J. Hammons

The Essentials: 7-0, 260-lb center for Carmel and Spiece Indy Heat

The Schools: Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Xavier have offered scholarships. Butler, Kentucky, Ohio State and Purdue have expressed interest.

The Numbers: 8.3 ppg, 7.8 rebounds and 4.8 for Carmel, which finished 15-7.

The Quote: “I’m pretty much focused on trying to get my schoolwork done right now. I really don’t just have one college I like. I’m looking for somewhere I can develop more and get playing time. It’s pretty open right now.” – Hammons to Kyle Neddenriep of The Indianapolis Star.

The Ranking: The Hoop Scoop ranks Hammons the 94th best prospect in the 2012 class.

The Scout Says: “We’ve seen the progression for this kid over the past year and we can see the light slowly coming. The 7-footer out of Carmel (Ind.) is being more aggressive on both ends and is starting to show his potential. Offensively he has a go-to move in a right jump hook, now we’d like to see him add from there, but he already has what many young posts are missing. Defensively he contests shots and he certainly got his hands on quite a few on Sunday.” – Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels on Hammons at EYBL Los Angeles.

The Highlights:

2012 Intro: Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell

The Essentials: 5-10, 165-lb guard for Park Tudor and Indiana Elite

The Schools: Butler, Illinois, Indiana, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Virginia and Washington have offered scholarships. Michigan and Xavier have expressed interest.

The Numbers: 23.4 ppg, 4.6 apg for Park Tudor, which fell to Wheeler, 41-38, in the Class 2A state championship.

The Quote: “There are other schools who are, and have been, really recruiting Yogi very exclusively. I’m not real sure that IU wants Yogi, just right now. I don’t know.” – Ferrell’s dad, Kevin, to Zach Osterman of Inside the Hall.

The Ranking: The Hoop Scoop ranks Ferrell the 86th best prospect in the 2012 class.

The Scout Says: “Few elite point guards have emerged from the class of 2012, but with continued development “Yogi” is knocking on the door. Bigger than advertised at just a shade under 6 feet tall, he’s got super quickness, a tight handle and outstanding floor vision. A fine vertical athlete who takes the ball right at bigger defenders near the rim, what really sets Ferrell apart is his deadly pull-up jumper (which is true out to 22 feet).” – Rivals.com analyst Eric Bossi on Ferrell following the adidas May Classic.

The Highlights (courtesy of UMHoops.com):

Raise your hand if saw this one coming …

Kentucky News - March 03, 2010 Pete Thamel, The New York Times college sports reporter who is among the best at his trade, published a story late Friday night revealing the NCAA is looking into former Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe.

The Times story, which you can read in its entirety at this link, says the NCAA is investigating dramatic changes in Bledsoe’s high school transcript and extra benefits he allegedly received as a senior at Parker High in Birmingham, AL. The Alabama High School Association is also investigating, according to the Times.

Kentucky, meanwhile, is already on the defense. The university issued this statement on Saturday:

Often high profile student-athletes are selected for an extensive prospective student-athlete (PSA) review. Eric Bledsoe participated in the normal academic review process and also an extensive PSA review by the NCAA Eligibility Center and was cleared academically.

While this may be true, it’s also important to remember that it’s not uncommon for the NCAA to retroactively declare a player ineligible following a more extensive investigation. (See Rose, Derrick.)

Bledsoe, Kentucky coach John Calipari, UK President Lee Todd or Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart have yet to comment publicly on the Times story.

Elsewhere:

+ Recruiting red flags and Calipari (Lexington Herald-Leader)

+ NCAA investigating Bledsoe (ESPN.com)

+ NCAA looks into Bledsoe’s past in Birmingham (Birmingham News)

Indiana adds Westfield’s Jeff Howard as preferred walk-on

According to reports by The Indianapolis Star, The Herald-Times/Hoosier Scoop and Peegs.com, Westfield big man Jeff Howard will join the program as a preferred walk-on.

The 6-8, 225-lb Howard averaged 16.8 ppg, 12.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists for a Westfield team that finished 13-9.

Howard’s high school coach, Eric Rauch, told Dustin Dopirak of The Herald-Times that Howard is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential:

“He is just starting to get the scope of what he can be. If you told me when he first came in that he would be playing college ball much less at Indiana, I would’ve been a little surprised, but he’s really worked and responded to the opportunities given to him.”

Howard, meanwhile, told Mike Pegram of Peegs and Inside Indiana that he chose the opportunity at IU over offers from Eastern Kentucky and the University of Indianapolis:

“I had an offer from Eastern Kentucky and them some other smaller schools were looking at me too a little bit. University of Indianapolis, I had an offer from them. They are D2. I think my coach talked to Purdue and Butler a little bit (about walking on) but I had never talked to them.”

Sounds like a solid pickup especially when you consider his GPA (4.3) and the fact that Indiana needs all the frontcourt depth it can get.

Gordon vs. Crawford; Sampson drawing NBA head-coaching interest

Two things of interest on this Thursday afternoon involving former members of the IU basketball fam.

First up, via Gery Woelfe of the Journal Times,  comes word that Jordan Crawford reportedly used to give Eric Gordon a run for his money in practice:

Many NBA scouts weren’t caught off guard by Crawford’s highly-productive season. They were well aware of his myriad of talents when he was a freshman at Indiana University.

That’s when he had some memorable practices against then Hoosiers guard Eric Gordon, who wound up being the seventh overall selection in the 2008 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers.

Some people who witnessed those Indiana workouts swear Crawford was often as good or better than Gordon.

“I heard that from time to time from players on the team, saying stuff like that,’’ Crawford said. “I really wanted to compete against him.

“He was the best player on the team, so every day in practice I wanted to go at him.’’

Considering the Undisciplined One was rather boom and bust that season — flashes of brilliance mixed with some typical freshman mistakes — it’s not out of the realm of possibility that on his best days he could have matched Gordon here and there.

Second, via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, looks like Kelvin Sampson is getting at least a look from the Cavs in their coaching search:

As the Cleveland Cavaliers sift potential coaching candidates, general manager Danny Ferry has made calls checking on Milwaukee Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson, sources tell Yahoo! Sports.

For now, the Cavaliers’ interest appears to be strictly in the fact-finding phase, but some league personnel believe it’s just a matter of time until Sampson becomes a legitimate head coaching candidate in the NBA.

This comes on the heels of a report from K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune that Sampson could draw interest from the Bulls in their search. Sampson worked a lot with rookie Brandon Jennings this year as a member of the Bucks’ staff, and though Jennings’ shot still needs plenty of work, he garnered some rookie-of-the-year consideration. Dude also tossed up 55 points in a game during the first half of the season, and was the team’s leader at the point for a team that made the playoffs and nearly upset the Hawks in the first round.

Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry are talented, no doubt, but they weren’t getting the type of experience Jennings was this year at the point. They may not have gotten the coaching Jennings got either.

You can criticize Sampson for other things, but his coaching prowess — after only two years in the pro ranks — is already garnering him some consideration for head-coaching jobs. That’s impressive stuff any way you slice it.

Oh, and just before I was set to hit publish, here’s a tweet that just came through from the well-connected Brain Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Sources confirm Yahoo! report about Cavs’ interest in Bucks asst. coach Kelvin Sampson. In fact, I’m told he may be near top of list.”

And then this tweet from Woj: “The Clippers are also showing an interest in Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson, sources tell Y! Sampson has relationship with Blake Griffin.”

OK, that’s it. Discuss at your leisure.

2012 Intro: Ron Patterson

The Essentials: 6-3, 200-lb guard for Broad Ripple and Indiana Elite

The Schools: Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue, Tennessee and Xavier have offered scholarships.

The Quote: “I am still a ways off on all of this, but I still like IU. It’s just somewhere I could come play, and I could start. It’s close to home.” – Patterson to Hugh Kellenberger of The Herald-Times.

The Ranking: The Hoop Scoop ranks Patterson the 77th best prospect in the 2012 class.

The Scout Says: “Over the course of the past year we’ve seen Patterson a number of times, but his effort Sunday was the best we’ve seen from him. He’s turned himself into a pretty good long-range shooter off the catch and his shooting off the dribble is much improved as well. On top of that, he’s a good athlete that focuses on rebounding the basketball from the guard position.” – Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels on Patterson following the adidas May Classic.

The Highlights:

2012 Intro: Hanner Perea

The Essentials: 6-8, 210 lbs forward for United Faith Christian Academy and Indiana Elite

The Schools: Alabama, Baylor, Indiana, Missouri and Tennessee have all offered scholarships. North Carolina and Wake Forest have shown interest.

The Leaders: Perea said at the adidas May Classic that Indiana and Baylor are sitting at the top of his list. Indiana Director of Operations and Video Coordinator Drew Adams coached Perea on Indiana Elite before joining the Hoosier staff.

The Ranking: ESPN ranks Perea No. 25 in its “Terrific 25″ for the 2012 class.

The Scout Says: “The 6-foot-8 forward is a physical specimen, and someone with absolutely freakish athletic ability. More than that though, Perea has a solid feel for the game and good hands around the rim and on the break. His skill set is still a little raw on the post, but his strength and athleticism make him a very difficult matchup for most forwards, especially at his age level.” – Rivals.com analyst Brian Snow on Perea’s play at the adidas May Classic.

The Highlights:

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