Sampson talks 2008 recruiting class

  • 11/14/2007 6:28 pm in

kelvinsampson23.jpgThe following is a release from IU Media Relations with Kelvin Sampson’s comments on the 2008 recruiting class:

Opening Statement:
“First thing is that today is National Letter of Intent signing day. We are excited about this entire recruiting class. When you look at the kids we will have returning, DeAndre Thomas, Eli Holman, Brandon McGee, Jordan Crawford, Armon Bassett, Jamarcus Ellis and when you add this class to them, we think we have a chance to remain a contender to play at the top of this league and play for Big Ten championships. That is our goal.

On Matt Roth:
“What I liked about Matt Roth from the first time I saw him was his ability to make contested three’s. A lot of guys can make three’s when they have time to set their feet, but he makes a lot of contested three’s. He has a great moxy about him and a swagger on the court. He is a prolific three-point shooter. He plays in a great program (at Washington (IL) High School) under coach Kevin Brown and his team will compete for a state championship this year. Matt is a tough kid and he has a lot of what I like in a basketball player. He will represent this university in a great way because he is an excellent student and an excellent person and he comes from a great family. With his three-point shooting, when you are as good at one thing as he is the other things tend to get overlooked. But Matt is a great three-point shooter that is improving in every area of his game.”

On Tom Pritchard:
“We didn’t know a lot about Tom this summer. As is the case a lot of time in recruiting, you go to watch one kid and wind up coming back asking about another kid. I can’t remember who I went to see, but early in the game against a very high level team, I said who is this kid? I may have gotten some bad information, so I decided to see for myself and found out it was Tom Pritchard, a big kid out of St. Edward’s High School in the Cleveland area. It is one of those deals where you look at his schedule and see where his games are being played and try to be at the next game to see if you like him the second time. And every time I saw him play, I liked him even more. His strength is his size. He’s around 6’9″ and he will play for us around 250 pounds. He is left-handed and can really score over his right shoulder with his left hand jump-hook shot. He is a good three point shooter and is one of those left-handed shooters that when he gets it into his shooting position, it looks like it should go in. You can play him inside or outside, he is very versatile and a smart kid. He also plays on a team that will compete for a state championship under an excellent coach in Eric Flannery. Kids like Tom Pritchard, you just can’t have enough of them in your program; big, strong, physical and with a high basketball IQ.”

On Terrell Holloway:
“As you look at your team, sometimes you ask yourself what it is that you need or what do you need to sure up. For us, we didn’t just want another guard, we wanted a true point guard. I think with the guards we have is that they are adjusting to playing point guard and we are adjusting to them and how they play that position. The thing I liked about Terrell in watching him play was that his is a point guard. He is not a shooting guard that we are converting to point guard or a scorer/point guard, he is a true point guard and always has been. He is extremely fast with the ball. He is strong too, even though he is listed as 175 pounds, he is more like 185 pounds. He is a great on-ball defender and a tough kid. He gets people involved and can create off the dribble. So we are excited about these three guys and we do expect one more today. With the kids that we have coming back, we are really excited about our future.”

On Devin Ebanks:
“Devin is the epitome of a guy that doesn’t have a position. He is just a 6’8″ basketball player. He can really score, make three’s and make plays off the dribble. He just has knack for scoring. He has a demeanor on the court, where he just plays with unbelievable confidence. When he has the ball in his hands, you can tell that he thinks he can go score. He is a kid that needs to continue to develop. He is going to get bigger and stronger. He can play three positions, so if you have a point guard and a center, he can play anything in between because he can shoot so well. He can also get to the free throw line and he is still getting better. I saw him in October and I thought he was better then than when I saw him in July.”

On him taking over D.J. White’s role next year:
“I don’t really envision him taking anybody’s role, because he is not an inside guy like D.J. Devin can play behind the three-point line, so if you have him with Jamarcus Ellis, Jordan Crawford, Armon Bassett and (2009 signee) Terrell Holloway, you have guys that can space the floor. We see him more of a guy that can play in space and create off the drive and catch and make three’s as well as run and score in transition. His length helps too; he is 6’8″ but has about a 7’1″ wingspan, so he can guard bigger guys. But he can also guard smaller guys.”

On Matt Roth and whether he may have slipped under the radar:
“Yeah, but if you look at every team in the country there are guys like that. If you look at Humphrey at Florida last year. Go back to his senior year of high school and see where he was ranked. Sometimes, you can say what are his strengths. Every kid has strengths, or something they can hang their hat on. Well, Matt has a great strength in that he is a great shooter. He is a high-major, top ten player in the country shooter, skill-wise. He has one thing that he can do great. He is extremely well coached and is a kid that is only going to get better. When you have players around him that can create, like a Jordan Crawford, an Armon Bassett, a Terrell Holloway, a Jamarcus Ellis, that makes those kinds of guys invaluable. He’s not going to have to work hard to get his own shot, we will get him open, whether it is in transition, in the open court or off penetration. When he is open, he is one of those kids that every time he shoots, you think it’s going in.”

On what jumped out at him with Tom Pritchard:
“The first thing that jumped out was his ability to pass and make people better. The team that he was on this summer had a kid going to Michigan State, Delvon Roe. They played together, and you see he is really unselfish. I saw games where he had ten or 11 rebounds and eight points and I probably liked him better in those game than I did in the game he scored 26 points and eight rebounds. He can score because he can shoot, he is a really good free throw shooter, but he can pass. When we were recruiting DeAndre Thomas, that was the thing that I always liked was his ability to pass. When you have a big man that can pass, it’s almost like having a player and a half, because they make other players better. Our program is nowhere close to being a finished product, this is a process. When you think that when we got here, there were two post players in the program, Ben Allen and D.J. (White). We were in the month of April and we had to sign two guys, so the next class we sign DeAndre and Eli (Holman) and then you start putting classes behind each other and this is the next class. As we continue to develop our program, you get to the point where you have juniors and seniors with freshmen and sophomores behind them. Then you can start rolling things over and that’s just the way we have done things everywhere I’ve been.”

On why freshmen are able to make an immediate impact today, unlike they did in the past:
“Twenty years ago I was the head coach at Washington State, and if we wanted to go see a kid play, you really had to go see him play in season. There weren’t these `Beach Ball Classics’ or made-for-tv high school games or those other camps, that just wasn’t the way it was. College basketball today is nothing like it was 20 years ago from a recruiting standpoint. Our staff saw Tom Pritchard play probably 10-14 games this summer. He only
plays 20 in his high school season and that is over the course of four months. I was talking to Tom last night and I think his first game is Dec. 6. I think he told me he played over 60 games, including the month of April. So there are so many more games to be played over the Spring and Summer during our evaluation period so you can see these kids. And there are so many more opportunities to play. I remember LeBron James was a ninth grader and I was watching him play at Adidas camp in Teaneck, N.J. and the level of play on that court in July was incredible. These kids just play so much more today than they did back then. It’s just like how many games are on TV each week. 20 years ago, there were one or two games on a week and they were on networks. ESPN was just coming into vogue. Now, everybody is on TV with satellite television but 20 years ago, hardly anybody was. That’s where the recruiting advantage was. That’s why Garner-Webb and Belmont and everybody who wants to make that David and Goliath game. Well, David is not what it used to be and neither is Goliath.”

On whether that makes a coach’s job recruiting easier or harder:
“There is nothing easy about recruiting. Recruiting is very competitive, just like scheduling. Nothing in college basketball is easy, no matter where you coach.”

On what changes he would make to recruiting if he could:
“Having coached at Washington State, if you are at a rural campus and don’t have access to a metropolitan area or geographically close to a place where you can go see a lot of players, that is where summer is important. For a long time, I wanted to do away with summer recruiting. I thought that would help eliminate some of the problems. But what about Montana State in Bozeman, Mt., or Washington State in Pullman, Wash., or UTEP in El Paso, Texas, you are so far away. The difference in college basketball and college football, a lot of the I-AA in college football are all in one grouping in basketball. For the power conference, a separate set of rules might be better than set of rules that everybody has to abide by. In the state of North Carolina, you have North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, UNC Wilmington, North Carolina, Duke and everybody has the same set of rules (in basketball), but that’s not the way football is. Montana State doesn’t have the same rules as UCLA, but in basketball it is all the same. That’s why you just can’t go and change this, because I think it would negatively effect some of the other schools, because I have been at Washington State. The ability to evaluate a large number of kids at one tournament is advantageous for those schools.”

On the recruitment of Terrell Holloway:
“I’m not going to go into the situation, but in recruiting, you always expect the unexpected. Sometimes, for an action, there is a reaction. At the end of the day, we do what we think is best for our program. There are certain things that happen and we had to make some decisions and we felt that this kid could help our program and we could help him too. I saw him in the summer, but we were not recruiting him at that time.”

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