It’s Indiana week for Illinois.
Through the years, that has meant laughable hysterics coming out of the Illinois program. From Lou Henson calling Bob Knight a “classic bully” to Bruce Weber fostering venomous hatred towards an 18 year old named Eric Gordon, the Illini are always good for a chuckle.
And why shouldn’t their beat reporters join in on the fun?
This is Illinois (4-9) basketball after all. You know, the same Illinois that is coming off a home loss to Florida Atlantic, if you are keeping score at home. The same program that is coming off a 14-18 overall and 4-14 Big Ten season, with a once darling second year head coach in Brad Underwood — who is now on the hot seat.
With Illinois doing their very best to give Rutgers a run for their money as the athletics laughing stock of the Big Ten, you can imagine the Illini fan base is a bit disillusioned right now. And a disillusioned fan base means a non-existent readership for the Illinois media.
But again, this is Indiana week. And that means that there is another very engaged fan base to, uh, bait for clicks.
And that is exactly what some hack covering the Illinois beat did on Sunday.
If you haven’t heard already, you likely will. An Illinois writer drudged up the Romeo Langford, Adidas money thing again. No, we are not going to name the writer or their outlet. The plan here is that IU fans will share the story and the struggling news outlet will get a little viral juice. We implore you to not take that click-bait.
In a hysterical piece that could have been ghost written by Weber or Henson, the Illinois writer covers no new ground. It is simply an opportunistic hit job that references a Washington Post article in May, and attempts to smear IU, Langford and his family yet again.
This is how said Illinois writer summarized his “reporting” on the Langford recruitment:
“Nutshelling, Adidas desperately wanted Langford at IU, and was determined to outbid Nike for him.”
What? Irresponsible doesn’t even begin to describe this. Nutshelling, even a minimal amount of diligence would have made it abundantly clear that this is complete nonsense.
Perhaps we can put this thing to rest once and for all, before another writer like this Illinois hack and Bob Kravitz before him tries to crap all over an 18-year old for clicks.
First, there are few basic things about high level AAU basketball that you must understand.
- Every AAU program with Division One college basketball talent is funded by a shoe company.
- Every one of these programs has someone that takes the money from the shoe company and operates the team, including salaries and expenses such as travel.
- When a team has a mega-star like Langford, vultures will fly in from every angle.
Langford’s father Tim formed an Adidas funded AAU team in January of 2017. The timing of the formation of the team is clear from the Washington Post article as well as the team’s social media accounts.
Again, someone is going to get money to operate that team, and someone is going to deal with the vultures. If it was your son, you might consider stepping in.
Here is what a 247Sports article had to say about the status of Langford’s recruitment on March 1, 2017:
“Currently Duke is leading in his Crystal Ball, but schools like Louisville, North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas are all being considered by Langford.”
That is more than a month after the Langford AAU team was formed with Adidas money, and IU was nowhere to be found in his recruitment. We could share countless other quotes and articles, and they would all tell you the same thing — Indiana didn’t have a prayer at this time.
It may be an inconvient fact for the Illinois writer, but Langford corroborated the IU-has-no-chance sentiment last month in an ESPN article —
“I don’t think I was planning on coming to IU at that point in my recruitment,” Langford said. “Early on, I wasn’t thinking about coming to IU.”
So what changed?
On March 25, 2017, Indiana hired Archie Miller.
One thing the Illinois writer did get right is that Tom Crean had lost his way recruiting in-state kids to play for the Hoosiers. And that is exactly why Langford wasn’t coming to Indiana either.
Crean hadn’t landed a top in-state target in years, and in January of 2017, there was no indication that was going to change any time soon. In fact, that is the primary reason he was fired a couple months later.
And of course all of this ignores the fact that the whole “shoes drive players to certain schools” thing is a total canard.
Juwan Morgan, OG Anunoby, Thomas Bryant, Jake Forrester, Justin Smith, Damezi Anderson, Armaan Franklin and Trayce Jackson-Davis, – just to name a few – all played for non-Adidas AAU programs. The uncle and father of Troy Williams and Al Durham, respectively, run non-Adidas AAU programs. They all chose to play at Adidas aligned IU.
It just really isn’t as much of a thing as people with an agenda want you to believe.
But let’s put all of that aside.
It is certainly possible that Indiana and at-the-time Dayton head coach Miller conspired in January of 2017 to get Langford tied in with Adidas so he could attend an IU program that he wasn’t even considering.
Yep, on planet disillusioned Illinois readership that is certainly possible.
But of course you know better.
Just like you know better than to click on the bait.
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