May is usually a slow news month, but it may be picking up considerably. ESPN has just released a really long article detailing the various connections between the Indiana Elite AAU program, which is run by Mark Adams, a Bloomington resident and IU alumnus; A-HOPE, a foundation run by Adams that is involved in bringing underprivileged young men from Africa and elsewhere to study and play basketball in the United States; and the IU basketball program, where Drew Adams, son of Mark Adams, was on the staff until a month ago.
Frankly, I have read through the article and related articles once, and don't have many fully formed thoughts on this. After all of the bad publicity IU has received over the last few years, obviously I hate to see IU featured on the front page of ESPN.com in an unflattering way. Still, it seems that the inclusion of IU in the story is an effort to grab eyeballs more than anything else. The most direct connection between IU and Indiana Elite and A-HOPE was Drew Adams, who was IU's video coordinator last season after serving in another support staff role in 2009-10. Adams is now the director of basketball operations for Steve Alford at New Mexico. Even taking the implications of the article to the extreme, the worst things that can be said about IU are that a) IU hired Drew Adams in part because of his connections, which is obvious and which Tom Crean freely admitted in the article; and b) that Hanner Perea may have received items that threaten his amateur status. The latter is troubling, of course, but does not particularly reflect on IU.
I also found certain of the claims to be fairly sensationalized. For instance, the article notes that since April 2010, when Mark Adams was promoted, IU has received commitments from eight players who are either with A-HOPE or Indiana Elite. The article focuses mostly on the foreign players and Adams's foundation, but of those eight players, only two, Perea and Peter Jurkin, are associated with A-HOPE. Five others are Austin Etherington, Cody Zeller, Jeremy Hollowell, Ron Patterson, Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell, and I quite frankly can't figure out who the eighth is. In summary, the main scandal is that a bunch of good basketball players from central and southern Indiana committed to IU, which most of us think of as the historical status quo. Also, they make much of Adams's "abrupt" departure from IU. Well, he left a position as video coordinator at IU to become director of basketball operations at New Mexico. What was abrupt about it? DBO is generally a higher responsibility job than video coordinator, albeit at a less prestigious program. It still can be construed as a promotion.
Also, here's a quote from Notre Dame coach Mike Brey:
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey also acknowledges that recruiting can occur that way [through relationships], though saying he can't recall landing an Indiana Elite or A-HOPE player in 11 years. As for IU's recent run of success, he says: "I certainly know what Bloomington means to a kid that has grown up in Indiana. It's doesn't matter what AAU team you play for, that has been a powerful thing. And I think Tom [Crean] has done a really good job of getting the momentum going in the state again."
See what he did there? Brey's statement didn't imply a hint of impropriety, but is construed as suggesting something sinister. What strikes me as odd is that the supposed Indiana Elite pipeline consists of two recruiting classes: the incoming freshmen and the 2012 class. Look at Indiana Elite's alumni page. The 2009 class sent as many players to Purdue (Patrick Bade, DJ Byrd) as to IU (Jordan Hulls, Bobby Capobianco). That class also included one of the Plumlees (Duke) and Stephan Van Treese (Louisville). The 2008 class included Deandre Liggins (Kentucky), Emmanuel Negedu (Tennessee), Lewis Jackson (Purdue), Walter Offutt (Ohio State), Zach Novak (Michigan), and Tyler Zeller (North Carolina). Some pipeline!
In short, I need to read the article much more closely when I have time, but I'm not particularly worried about what I read. I'm sure it will make for some nice fodder for our rivals, and some clicks for ESPN. I welcome your thoughts.