Prize recruit backs out of oral commitment to Illinois

By Erin Foley

Prized recruit Eric Gordon spent the start of the college basketball season Friday night at Assembly Hall – in Bloomington, Ind. Gordon opted to attend “Hoosier Hysteria,” thereby putting an end to speculation regarding which school the Indiana native would sign with.

After originally making an oral commitment to Illinois on Nov. 5, 2005, the North Central High School star announced he would be choosing Indiana instead of Illinois.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Gordon decided to attend Indiana last Monday. Friday, the paper reported that Gordon’s father, Eric Gordon Sr., said his son backed off his oral commitment to Illinois.

Newly hired Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson started heavily recruiting Gordon after he had already committed to Illinois. Since that time, Gordon has had fans and coaching staffs at both schools awaiting his decision.

“I still am really thinking about going to Illinois,” Gordon told the Daily Illini on Sept. 26. “I’m just giving IU a look. I’m just an Indiana kid who is thinking about Indiana. I’m still basically committed to Illinois.

“I verbally committed there and I don’t want them to feel any different about me because I don’t feel any different about them. I’m still committed to them, and the coaching staff understands my situation.”

Scout.com lists Gordon as the No. 2 recruit in the country, while Gordon is the first high-profile recruit in Sampson’s tenure as a Division I coach. Before taking over at Indiana, Sampson coached Oklahoma to 10 20-win seasons.

After not attending Illinois’ Homecoming the weekend of Oct. 6 as Gordon originally said he would, Gordon had many fans thinking he had already made his choice.

During Illinois basketball’s media day Friday, Weber would not answer questions about Gordon because NCAA rules prohibit coaches from talking about specific recruits.

“As far as recruiting goes, we want to talk about basketball and our team and the start of the season,” Weber said at the opening of the press conference. “We’ll have some time to talk about recruiting down the road.”

Sophomore guard Chester Frazier had the same take on the Gordon saga.

“We try not to think about it. We try to focus on the year ahead,” Frazier said.

“We don’t need to worry about recruiting and things like that,” he added.

Aside from Gordon, Illinois has received oral commitments from Demetri McCamey (committed on June 30, 2006), Mike Tisdale (Jan. 2, 2006) and Bill Cole (Dec. 12, 2005), according to Scout.com. The fall signing period begins Nov. 8.