Okay, there’s no way to sugarcoat this. Bud Mackey’s recent arrest in Kentucky on two felony drug charges for trafficking cocaine and for trafficking within 1,000 yards of a school is a big blow for Indiana recruiting.
Forget Mackey’s obvious skills as a player (he was the 2007 Kentucky state basketball tourney MVP after leading Scott County to the state title; he was expected to be a top contender for Mr. Basketball this season). This hurts the perception that the Hoosiers seek quality people as well as quality players.
And it will hurt their ability to land standout recruit Tyler Zeller.
That’s not fair, of course. Coach Kelvin Sampson is committed to having the nation’s top program in all areas -– basketball, academics, high-character people.
And by all accounts, this was a shock. Mackey, who verbally committed to IU a year ago, seemed personable and charming and mature as well as talented.
Maybe this was a good kid who made one bad mistake. Or maybe this is just the first time he got caught. Or, for those who believe in conspiracies, maybe this was a setup. That’s for the courts to decide.
But the Hoosiers can’t be involved with this. Yes, Sampson is big on helping kids who come from tough situations. In fact, that’s one of his strengths. It’s among the reasons why he’s such an outstanding recruiter and coach. His combination of discipline and compassion brings out the best in players.
But the risk here is too great and, in truth, there are too many outstanding players who would come to Indiana and who don’t get in trouble with the law.
Freshman Eric Gordon is an obvious example.
If Mackey is lucky, he’ll avoid career-destroying consequences (the penalties if convicted are five to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000). He’ll get a chance at college opportunity.
But it shouldn’t be at Indiana.