It seems like Indiana Elite's Team Indiana has it all: top-10 ranked recruits, a group of IU bound players and some of the nations top high school basketball talent put together into one team. However, something's missing from this Elite unit.
Despite being one of the most coveted AAU teams in the country, Team Indiana is currently without a summer tournament win after falling flat at the Adidas May Class and the Best Buy Chicago Classic among other tournaments in the past two months.
The Adidas Invitational came at a perfect time for the 17s group as a number of factors have changed the way the team has played. No more Cody Zeller and Austin Etherington, the two Hoosiers in the 2011 class who are already getting started on basketball down in Bloomington. No more Ron Patterson who made the switch from Elite's Team Indiana to Indiana Elite One for this tournament.
This number of absences can prove worrisome to many teams, but it's up to Yogi Ferrell, Hanner Perea, Jeremy Hollowell and Peter Jurkin to prove that this group isn't wasted talent and is a recognizable presence by winning the Adidas Invitational.
"Coming into July our coach was telling us we would be the toughest team to beat," Ferrell said. "Even though we lost our first game, I feel like we can win this tournament and win more tournaments this summer."
Team Indiana bounced back from an 80-73 loss to Dream Vision earlier on Wednesday with an 81-73 victory over Connecticut Basketball Club later that night, a team that features Andre Drummond, the country's No. 1 ranked center. Ferrell has become more of a vocal leader out on the court, controlling the very fast-paced game from the point and adding 15 points against CBC.
"I've moved up in the rankings a little bit, which is good," Ferrell said. "I'm just trying to show everybody that I can lead a team and win, doing whatever it takes.
Team Indiana's game against CBC drew the largest number of spectators as hundreds of fans packed into the bleachers at North Central High School's auxiliary court and several college coaches like Jim Calhoun, Rick Barnes, and Chris Mack came out to watch the action. The future coach of the IU bound AAU kids, Tom Crean, was in attendance at the tournament earlier in the day.
The Invite continues Thursday as Team Indiana plays their third game in two days at 2:30 p.m. They'll use the short time away to focus their strengths in the back court.
"We didn't play great defense in the spring, but that's what we're going to work on because the rest of July is just team defense--that's it," Ferrell said.