Keegan: Chicagoan targeted by Self
Bill Self, Public Enemy No. 1 among fans of Illinois basketball, incurred Illini wrath when he bolted Champaign for Kansas University.
The anger intensified when Self went into Chicago, long a stronghold for Illini recruiting, and snared Julian Wright.
Ill will soared when Sherron Collins signed with Kansas. Anthony Longstreet, his high school coach, felt compelled to defend himself against wild accusations he received money to steer his player to KU. “Show me the canceled check,” Longstreet said.
Self remains the smiling face in Illini fans’ nightmares, here in July, when recruiting season gets mighty intense.
The object of both coaching staffs’ affection this time is one Derrick Rose out of Chicago Simeon High. Google the name Derrick Rose and you will get 2,950,000 entries. Not all the stories are about America’s next great point guard. There’s an entry here about a professional magician with the same name, an entry there about a TV reporter from Jackson, Miss. The vast majority of the recent entries, though, are about the guard every college basketball coach in America would love to call his own.
Can Self make it three Chicago sensations in a row? Not if Eric Gordon, a shooting guard from North Central High in Indianapolis, succeeds in accomplishing his summer mission. Gordon, who has committed to Illinois, is ranked eighth in the Class of 2007, according to rivals.com. The same service ranks Rose third in the nation.
“I want to get Derrick Rose to go to Illinois with me,” Gordon told the Indianapolis Star. “I want people to see us play on the same team and see how good we are together.”
Gordon, who has known Rose for two years, has said he would join Rose’s AAU team for a tournament July 12-15 in North Augusta, S.C.
So what this amounts to is a two-on-one trap with Illinois coach Bruce Weber and Gordon trying to take the prize from Self. If it were a basketball game, my money would be on Weber and Gordon. It’s not. It’s a personality contest. That’s why my money’s on Self, based on nothing more than a hunch.
It’s possible KU already will have Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins, Russell Robinson and Brady Morningstar returning for what would be Rose’s first season in college. So what? Darrell Arthur signed on with a team that had its starting five, plus C.J. Giles and Darnell Jackson, returning. Arthur did so because he believes in himself, and why shouldn’t he? Likewise, Rose is such a talent he’s not about to be scared off any school after looking at its roster. Special players don’t think that way.
Other top-10 players who list Kansas as a school they would consider are: 5. Kevin Love, 6-foot-9, 240, Lake Oswego, Ore.; 6. Kyle Singler, 6-foot-8, 210, Medford, Ore.; 7. Anthony Randolph, 6-foot-10, 210; 9. Jerryd Bayless, 6-foot-3, 193, Phoenix. Of that group, the names Singler and Bayless are mentioned most often with Kansas.
KU won’t have a senior on the roster this coming season, but could lose a few players to the NBA to open scholarships, particularly if the Jayhawks make it to the Final Four in Atlanta.
l To hear discussion on KU recruiting, visit KUsports.com and click on Spodcasters after 5 p.m. today.