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Merrillville soph endures first AAU loss, but gains recruiting interest

Merrillville's D.J. Wilkins gets shot off over LaPorte's Gage Ott during first half Rising Stars game Purdue Calumet Friday night

Merrillville's D.J. Wilkins gets a shot off over LaPorte's Gage Ott during the first half of the Rising Stars game at Purdue Calumet Friday night in Hammond. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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INDIANAPOLIS - Merrillville rising sophomore D.J. Wilkins didn’t have quite the experience he envisioned at the Adidas Invitational.

Indiana Elite 2016 suffered its first loss of the AAU season, falling in the quarterfinals of the 15-under platinum division.

The team, which also features Griffith twins Anthony and Tremmell Murphy - opened its season 41-0 before the surprising loss, which hit Wilkins hard.

“That feeling will not leave me no time soon,” Wilkins tweeted afterwards, following it with, “First time I cried after a loss inna minute. Didn’t feel good at all.”

Wilkins scored 15 points for Indiana Elite in the bracket loss that eliminated them from the tournament after posting consecutive two-point wins.

Not all was lost for Wilkins. While the team loss may have stung, he’s drawing several looks from Division I programs. His athleticism and ability to be a disruptive force on the defensive end is going to keep that interest moving forward.

“I took away (from freshman season at Merrillville) that defense is always first and never force your offense, just let it come to you,” Wilkins said.

Though he doesn’t have an offer yet, Wilkins is hearing from programs and listening to their best sales pitch, previously making visits to Michigan State and Purdue.

While no specific date is set, he plans to visit Illinois, Indiana and Michigan State a second time.

During his trip to Michigan State, Wilkins spoke with coach Tom Izzo in his office, who reminded him of the seven Final Four appearances he has made with the Spartans.

“They relayed that to me when I was talking with coach Izzo in his office and they showed me offensive film, how they got there and some of the plays they made,” Wilkins said.

On his visit to Purdue, Wilkins talked with assistant coach Jack Owens, who noted the proximity to home.

“I’ll definitely take that into consideration,” Wilkins said. “It’s a big deal because my family and my parents want me to stay close so they can see me play.”

East Chicago guard wins title: Hyron Edwards, a rising junior at East Chicago, scored 33 points to lead Indiana Elite 2015 to a 97-76 win over Ohio Basketball Club in the championship game of the 16-under platinum division.



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