Ed's note: In the current issue (cover date: February 23, 2009) of ESPN The Magazine, there is a short piece about five college basketball players and how they were affected by Kelvin Sampson. This is a companion piece that looks at two players formerly on IU in more detail.
A year ago when Brandon McGee wanted to hang out with any of his boys, he didn't have to travel very far. They were all somewhere around Indiana University's campus: at the gym, down the street, or down the hall.
A year later, it's a lot more complicated.
Armon Bassett left Indiana for UAB, then ended up at Ohio University. Jordan Crawford transferred to Xavier, Eric Gordon entered the NBA, Eli Holman went to Detroit, Jamarcus Ellis attended Oklahoma City University, then became academically ineligible, and DeAndre Thomas was at Robert Morris in Chicago, but also ended up leaving there.
Of the seven players who departed Indiana after the tumultuous season of a year ago and in the wake of Kelvin Sampson's dismissal as head coach, McGee is the lone one who still tries to keep in touch with the rest of the guys. From his new home at Auburn University, McGee hits up everyone by cell phone or Facebook. He regularly talks to Bassett, Crawford and Holman. It wasn't too long ago that he chatted with fellow Chicagoans Ellis and Thomas. He even spoke with his old roommate Gordon following Gordon's comments accusing his former Hoosier teammates of drug use.
It was hard enough for McGee to leave Indiana, he didn't want leave behind the friendships that began there, too.
"I loved Indiana," McGee said. "It was close to home. The coaches were all good. They were nice. Coach Sampson talked to us with respect.
"I got along with everybody. I could relate to DeAndre and Jamarcus because they were both from Chicago and they grew up on the West Side. Me, Armon, Eli and Jordan were real close. We all clicked. Eric was my roommate and we had a pretty good relationship."