Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kyrie Irving plans to cut his list of schools down later this summer, but right now Indiana ranks right up near the top.
Irving, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound guard from St. Patrick of Elizabeth (N.J.), visited Indiana two weeks ago for an AAU event and really enjoyed his time there.
“They’re at the top of my list for now,” Irving said in a phone interview. “It’s them and Notre Dame and Duke and Virginia. They’re at the top of my list right now.”
Irving is the No. 4 point guard in the Class of 2010 according to Rivals and St. Patrick coach Kevin Boyle is on record with some very high praise for the young man.
“Kyrie Irving, when it’s all said and done, he will arguably be as good as any guard who’s played in New Jersey,” Boyle told me earlier this year. “Any guard. Ever. Ever. DaJuan Wagner, Bobby Hurley, Shaheen Holloway. You’re talking about a guy who’s a great shooter, a great finisher. He’s going to be as good as anybody who’s played in New Jersey.”
Irving’s AAU coach, Sandy Pyonin, had similar praise.
“He’s becoming a dynamic player,”Pyonin, who over the years has coached future NBA guards like Bobby Hurley, Jason Williams and Randy Foye, told the Fayetteville Observer. “And he doesn’t like to lose. So if guys aren’t playing at his level, it bothers him. But it always bothers the great ones. Kyrie is very humble and very mature and very comfortable with his game.”
Indiana assistant Roshown McLeod is a St. Anthony graduate who is making a concerted effort to recruit the talent-rich North Jersey area that features St. Anthony, St. Patrick, St. Benedict’s and Paterson Catholic.
“He’s a factor,” Irving said. “He’s not a big factor. I have a good relationship with him and he has a good relationship with my father.”
Despite the fact that newspapers are going the way of dinosaurs, Irving wants to pursue a career in journalism (I recommended broadcast), and Indiana suits his needs in this area.
“They have my major, which is journalism, one of the best programs in the country in journalism,” he said. “I got a home feeling when I went out in Indiana. They showed me around the campus. I got a feel a good feel for the campus.
“It went really well. The fan support was tremendous. They really showed me a good time out there.”
Irving’s complete list looks like this: Georgia Tech, Duke, Indiana, Seton Hall, Texas A&M, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Florida, Marquette and Kentucky.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski recently spoke with Irving on the phone before Irving competed in the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions.
“I talked to Coach K before I left for Bob Gibbons,” he said. “He wanted me to be a part of his program and he said that Duke seems like the right place for me.
“It makes me feel great, it’s a blessing. All this recruiting stuff is a blessing. A lot of people wish they could be in my position.”
Another school coming on strong is Kentucky, which may have an added advantage. Rod Strickland, Irving’s Godfather, is on John Calipari’s staff.
Asked if that was a significant factor, Irving said, “Not really.”
Irving hopes to visit Duke, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Virginia in the coming weeks.
His summer schedule also includes trips to the Deron Williams and LeBron James Nike Skills Academies.
Next year he will become the senior leader of a St. Patrick team that is losing Dexter Strickland to North Carolina and Paris Bennett to George Mason.
Still, with the return of Irving and super sophomore Michael Gilchrist, the Celtics should again be favored to win the New Jersey Tournament of Champions and challenge for national supremacy.
“We have the goals of winning a TOC and a national championship,” Irving said.
The Celtics will be tested along the way with games at the Spalding Hoophall Classic, possibly against DeMatha (Md.), and back-to-back affairs with national powers Findlay (Nev.) Prep and Oak Hill (Va.) Academy in the Primetime Shootout.
He plans to cut his list later this summer and make a decision when the timing feels right.
“I’m going to take my five official visits spread out,” he said. “[When I decide] depends on the school and what kind of feeling I get.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.