By Paul M. Banks
Indiana freshman two guard Eric Gordon is the Big Tenâ€™s leading scorer. (16th nationally) Heâ€™s a leading candidate for Big Ten freshman of the year and considered a top 5 NBA Draft pick by every expert across the board. (David K. currently has him 2nd overall in his mock draft) In the preseason, Lindyâ€™s ranked him the nationâ€™s third best freshman, Newcomer of the Year, Most Entertaining and Top NBA Prospect. He made the midseason watch list for both the Naismith and Wooden awards. You get the point: heâ€™s truly â€œeverybodyâ€™s All-American,â€ and will likely receive a very phat paycheck this June.
Heâ€™s currently considered public enemy #1 by fans and supporters of the Illinois Fighting Illini for originally giving a verbal commitment to Bruce Weberâ€™s program before he eventually signed with the recently deposed Kelvin Sampson and Indiana. What most members of Illini Nation find particularly loathsome about his recruiting process: Gordonâ€™s infamous â€œIâ€™m still solid with Illinoisâ€ quote, made while he had decided to reopen his recruiting. As Gordon heads into what will likely be the final games of his college career, he plays for a program in crisis. In this interview, following his first game under a new coach, he discusses Kelvin Sampson and how he and his teammates are handling the adversity of transition amid scandal.
On how he and his teammates prepared mentally for the first game after the coaching changeâ€¦..
Well, coach Dakich explained that we had to come out and play. We didnâ€™t have a lot of preparation against Northwestern; they got better since the last time we played them. Just work hard and donâ€™t worry about anything else.
On former coach Kelvin Sampson and where the program goes from hereâ€¦â€¦.
Well heâ€™s the one who got us all here in the first place. He wasnâ€™t just like a coach. He was more like a father to us. We just miss him, but we just have to keep on playing, keep on playing with Coach Dakich.
On how heâ€™s handling the loss of his coach and â€œfather figureâ€â€¦â€¦
I mean this has been tough. A decision has been made, and we couldnâ€™t do nothing about it. We just got to keep on playing to finish up the season.
On the adjustment of playing for a new coach as March approachesâ€¦.
A head coach is the biggest part of this program. Heâ€™s got to run it and each person is playing for him. Itâ€™s just really tough.Follow paulmbanks