Grant Gelon and his family aren’t happy. Surely you’ve read that story by now, and if you haven’t, here’s the link to the article from The Times in Northwest Indiana.
Gelon’s unhappy today, and to be honest, he has the right to be unhappy. But I’d like to go back to when all of this really began, when Gelon started down the path to the disappointment he and his family are feeling right now.
I first saw Grant Gelon play during a summer event in the Indianapolis area back in 2015. Gelon and his Crown Point high school team were playing against Pendleton Heights and my brother, Mark Albers.
Crown Point was strong — I believe they eventually won the game — but I barely noticed Gelon. He certainly didn’t stick out, nor did he look like a future Big Ten prospect. I was impressed with his teammate, Sasha Stefanovic, who will be a freshman at Purdue this coming year.
So how did Gelon end up at Indiana in the first place? The short answer — marketing.
The AAU organization Indiana Elite — for whom I worked at the time — bumped Gelon up to its top team for the critical July recruiting run. Indiana Elite wanted to give Gelon every opportunity to earn a scholarship by putting him in front of some of the nation’s top coaches.
Gelon had some relatively good games out at the Adidas Championships in Las Vegas, but I still didn’t see him as a high-Division 1 player. A mid-major school at the very best was my thought at the time.
Tom Crean watched Gelon diligently — in Vegas and at other events. Crean’s track record shows he’s historically been a fan of adding a shooter late in the recruiting period. Tim Priller, for example, jumped on Crean’s radar around the same time of year.
Crean opted to offer Gelon, hoping he would turn into a Matt Roth-like knockdown shooter. I didn’t see it happening, but I’m also not paid to make such decisions. Gelon dreamed of playing at Indiana University, so he committed immediately, and it was a feel-good story for maybe a minute.
But unlike Priller, who has been perfectly fine steadily improving over time but seeing limited minutes on the floor, Gelon expected to play at IU. He expected to be part of this team’s future.
The bottom line is, Gelon is a great kid, but he’s not good enough to play in the Big Ten. That’s the hard truth.
Now, onto the part of this story that’s generating heavy conversation — did anybody do anything wrong here?
Let’s look at the facts. New Indiana coach Archie Miller met with Gelon on May 3, a meeting in which Miller told Gelon: “We don’t see you fitting into our plans here”, according to the NWI Times. A tad blunt, perhaps, but honest — something people often say they want out of their leader, but complain about when that honesty isn’t what they wanted to hear.
Miller didn’t tell Gelon to get lost. Due to the Indiana University Bill of Rights, Gelon could have kept his scholarship at Indiana even if he was no longer part of the basketball team. Let’s not forget how incredibly valuable a full scholarship to Indiana University is.
The NWI Times story reports that Sandi Gelon, Grant’s mother, received the following text from an Indiana Elite representative:
“Hey! I’m sure you (k)now by now that Grant called and said he was staying, IU staff told us they may just push him off the team and let him keep his scholarship but he won’t be playing or on the team.”
Indiana denies ever contacting Indiana Elite, but regardless, nobody did anything wrong here. Miller told Gelon he didn’t see him fitting into his plans, Gelon wanted to stay anyway. If Indiana Elite did in fact contact Gelon’s mother with the reported text, there’s nothing wrong with that, either. It’s a simple case of an AAU program sharing what they know with the family of one of their former players. If anything, it says Indiana Elite cares about all of its players — current and former.
Even if Indiana did contact the AAU program — which IU denies — what’s wrong with letting someone know it intended to allow Gelon to keep his scholarship but no longer play basketball? It’s not sneaky, it’s not deceitful, and it’s not unfair. Miller met with Gelon face-to-face and told him he didn’t factor into the program’s future. Miller could have taken Gelon’s educational money away (because he’s a new coach), but he didn’t do that. Miller would have let Gelon keep his scholarship.
Sandi and Mark Gelon then met with Indiana athletic director Fred Glass on May 22 “to discuss Grant’s position in the program”, and Sandi was upset that Miller wasn’t in the meeting. It would have been a waste of Miller’s time to be in that meeting. He already told Gelon, 19 days earlier, that he had no position in the program. This isn’t kindergarten — Miller doesn’t have any obligation to tell Gelon’s parents the same thing he told Grant. He’s a new coach trying to get his current players up to speed while also trying to mold the program for the future.
It’s understandable that Gelon and his parents are upset with how things ended, but they shouldn’t be upset with Miller, and they shouldn’t be speaking in such a manner about Indiana basketball as a whole. It’s immature and in poor taste.
“I want other parents to be aware,” Sandi Gelon told the NWI Times. “Grant got no support there. He didn’t know who to contact. He was all alone.”
What Sandi Gelon should have said is: “Grant didn’t get the answer we wanted to hear.”
That’s what this all boils down to. Gelon wasn’t lied to, as he says in the article, and he was not all alone. Miller told him the hard truth, and Gelon had the option to stay at Indiana with a scholarship in his pocket.
Miller and Indiana did nothing wrong here. Gelon didn’t belong at Indiana in the first place, and it was Miller who had to break that news to him.