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.
There has been a dramatic shift in the recruitment of Kyrie Irving.
Indiana is now out of the mix and Georgia Tech will get a fourth official visit.
Irving and his family are weighing whether to take his fifth official to either Seton Hall or UConn.
“Indiana is out,” said Sye Dean, Irving’s uncle. “We respect the program. We respect Tom Crean. We feel blessed that a University of that caliber would recruit Kyrie, but sometimes in regards to this recruiting processyou have to eliminate certain programs. That’s part of the process.
“It’s always a process of elimination and I think Tom Crean and their program did a wonderful job. We just felt that Indiana wasn’t the place where he could develop and that’s no disrespect to Tom Crean. Although Indiana is a great program and has great coaches, we just felt it was conducive for us to go in another direction.”
He added: “Although Kyrie will not be taking an official visit to Indiana University, as a family we have the utmost respect for the Indiana University program, its coaches and players. Unfortunately, during this arduous and lengthy recruiting process, certain perspectives and perceptions changed in what would be best for Kyrie and his future.”
Indiana had long been considered a potential favorite to land Irving, the No. 4 point guard in the nation out of Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick.
Instead, he will visit Duke (Sept. 25), Texas A&M (Oct. 9), Kentucky (Oct. 15) and Georgia Tech (Oct. 23).
That leaves one official left for Seton Hall or UConn.
“We only have one slot remaining,” said Drederick Irving, Kyrie’s dad. “We want to sit back and give ourselves a couple days to digest. We want to assess and see which schools are conducive to Kyrie’s needs and where he wants to be.”
The last two schools to come in this week for home visits were Seton Hall on Thursday and UConn on Wednesday.
Drederick said the family was impressed with both programs.
Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez and assistant Scott Adubato were in the house Thursday.
“I thogut it went extremely well,” Drederick said. “Coach Gonzalez did a great job with his presentation. It gave him the forum where he could elaborate on the athletics and the academics and how he perceived Kyrie fitting into the school setting academically and athletically.
“They’re going to pretty much put him at the point and just give him a chance to develop on the court and off the court.”
Adubato has been recruiting Irving for more than a year and that is paying off.
“Coach Adubato, he’s done a wonderful job recruiting Kyrie,” Drederick said. “We’ve developed a decent relationship over the past year and a half. He did a wonderful job in terms of how he can help Kyrie in college and the next step after that if he’s blessed to pursue another career after college.
As for UConn, Drederick has a relationship with both head coach Jim Calhoun and assistant Andre LaFleur from his playing days at Boston University. Calhoun coached at Northeastern and LaFleur was his point guard then.
“I do have a relationship with Coach Calhoun that goes back to my playing days at BU,” Drederick said. “He was at Northeastern. I played against him for four years. We met every year in the conference championship.
“Andre LaFleur and I played together in Australia [in the pro league]. We were out there together.
“I thought it [the visit] went well. It was just an opportunity for the coaches to elaborate on the academics of the school and how Kyrie fits and where they see Kyrie fitting.”
As for Georgia Tech, Paul Hewitt made enough of an impression to warrant gaining the fourth official.
“His presentation was wonderful. He came in prepared. He talked about the academics. His approach was different relative to the other people who came in. He had a lot of factual data in front of him and we were really impressed with him.”
While all these coaches were impressive, Duke may still be the favorite here and has the advantage of having the first official visit.
“It is very appealing what they offer,” Drederick said
“It’s a great academic institution that offers great athletics. You get the best of both worlds. That reflects what I represent and what Kyrie represents but we’re still trying to be objective about it because there are still other elite schools that offer that academic excellence.”
Drederick maintains that Kyrie wants to get this done in the fall and could verbally commit on one of the visits.
“If Kyrie gets that feeling and says that’s where I belong,” he said
“It’s all predicated on a feeling. You don’t get that feeling until you’re actually on campus and you’re around the players and the administration.
“That’s an integral part of the process, being around the players and observing the interaction with the coaches and the players. That says a lot.”
(Photos courtesy Connecticut Advance, NY Daily News, Zimbio)
Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter.
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.