Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rose's College Picks Spark A Shoe Debate

By Michael O'Brien, Staff Reporter
Chicago Sun-Times

Simeon guard Derrick Rose's final list of five schools, reported Saturday by the Sun-Times, elicited a response from Illinois fans impressive in both quantity and consistency.

The Illini faithful are screaming conspiracy. Numerous e-mails sent to the Sun-Times highlighted that all five of Rose's final choices -- DePaul, Indiana, Kansas, Memphis and UCLA -- are ''Adidas schools,'' meaning the coaches have contracts with Adidas. Illinois coach Bruce Weber's contract is with Nike.

For the first two summers of his high school career, Rose was viewed as a Nike player because his club teams, Ferrari and Meanstreets Express, were sponsored by Nike.

This summer, however, Rose played in some Reebok events and went to the ABCD camp, sponsored by Reebok and run by Sonny Vaccaro. Adidas owns Reebok.

"There is no connection or obligation from anyone that Derrick is close with to anyone at Adidas,'' Vaccaro said. ''I'm a consultant. My contract and my events are under the Reebok banner, and Reebok doesn't have any contracts with any colleges. I have not talked to nor seen anyone from Adidas."

Memphis, DePaul and Kansas have been in the mix for Rose for more than a year. The two surprises on the list were Indiana and UCLA.

"UCLA was all Derrick's thing,'' Vaccaro said. ''[UCLA recruit] Kevin Love spurred that recruiting thing on. Derrick wants to play with the best center, and Kevin wants to play with the best point guard. It's a very logical thing."

Vaccaro isn't sure how Indiana became involved. Hoosiers coach Kelvin Sampson is unable to make recruiting visits.

There is, however, an Indiana connection close to Rose. Eric Gordon of Indianapolis North Central played with Rose on Meansteets Express this summer. Gordon has orally committed to Illinois, but Indiana has not stopped recruiting him. Gordon was on campus in Bloomington earlier this month.

"The only logical conclusion is that [Gordon] has something to do with Derrick's interest in Indiana," Vaccaro said.

Weber's Nike connection hasn't hurt him with other recruits. Gordon has played with Adidas or Reebok teams, and St. Joseph guard Demetri McCamey, who recently committed to Illinois, always has played for Reebok teams.

"I don't want to be identified with what shoe we wear,'' DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright said. ''I want us to be identified by what our institutional values are. You don't want to compromise those."

NCAA rules prohibit Wainwright from discussing possible recruits, but not the relationship between shoe companies and colleges.

"I like to ask the kids when they get here, do a little poll on why they chose DePaul,'' Wainwright said. ''They'd always say the players and the coaches; it never was any of the other stuff. There is always potential for abuses, but I don't really worry about those things. You just can't get an edge because of what shoe you wear."


(photo credit: illhoops.com)


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