Demetrius Jackson has committed to Notre Dame.
Illinois basketball fans are probably asking that question this morning after the Mishawaka (Ind.) native and Marian Catholic High School point guard gave a verbal commitment to Notre Dame on Thursday afternoon.
Dayshon Smith, a point guard from Connecticut, is a name that you might hear more of in the coming weeks. If you're looking for a high school senior point guard, specifically in the state of Illinois, that might join Illinois' Class of 2013, don't look past Jaylon Tate, according to Joe Henricksen, publisher of the City/Suburban Hoops Report.
Tate is a 6-foot-2-inch, 165-pound senior guard from Chicago Simeon High School.
"I know there is one point guard that is out there that has raised his stock a little bit, and that is Jaylon Tate," Henricksen said of Illinois commit Kendrick Nunn's teammate, who has offers from Northwestern, Providence and Xavier and interest from several Big Ten schools. "He's probably the best available point guard in Illinois. We'll see what direction (Illinois will) go."
Groce and his staff have evaluated Tate a little bit this fall, but Henricksen admitted there is a drop-off from the skill set of Jackson to that of Tate.
"There's no question about that, but right now, they need a point guard," Henricksen said. "They need ball handlers. They need a guy that can come in and take care of the ball to relieve some of that from Tracy Abrams."
Groce's dribble-drive offense thrives on guards creating off the dribble, whether it's driving straight to the rim for a layup or drawing defenders and kicking out to the perimeter where the shooters are waiting. Hence, the need for a talented and dynamic point guard.
"The unfortunate situation for Illinois and coach Groce is the state is void of really high-level point guards," Henricksen said of Illinois' Class of 2013. "Justifiably so, they went hard after Demetrius Jackson and did everything in their power to get them in that mix to be among the final two. It's no fun finishing second, and it means nothing to finish second, but it's also a credit to the staff for putting them in that position in that short a period of time."
Notre Dame spent nearly three years recruiting Jackson. Groce and staff had about five months.
Henricksen said Groce and his staff could wait to see if a senior develops this winter and sign him late in the spring or take a look at bringing in a fifth-year senior transfer like the program has done each of the last two seasons in Sam Maniscalco and Sam McLaurin.
But, Henricksen cautions, that comes with obvious risk.
"You've really put yourself behind the eight-ball if you're relying on that type of thing to happen in a positive way," he said.
Another option exists, one which Illinois fans probably won't like hearing, but might end up happening. Waiting until the Class of 2014 to land an elite, game-changing point guard. Maybe someone like Marian Catholic (Ill.) High School's Tyler Ulis.
"I don't think he was ever out of that spotlight," Henricksen said of Ulis (more on him in next week's blog). "I think their focus has been so heavy on Demetrius Jackson and Xavier Rathan-Mayes that it's kind of first things first. They're still going to try to get a point guard in 2013. Depending on who that point guard is, they'll really evaluate the 2014 guys."
Rathan-Mayes, a combo guard from Huntington Prep (W. Va.), is on an official visit to Connecticut this weekend after taking one to Champaign-Urbana last weekend. Illinois, Connecticut and Florida State are in his final three list of schools, with a decision most likely coming in mid-October.
Henricksen likes the three commits Illinois already has for the Class of 2013 in guard Malcolm Hill from Belleville East (Ill.) High School, Nunn and center Maverick Morgan from Springboro (Ohio).
For any Illinois fans worried about the abilities of Groce to land prized recruits, slow down, Henricksen cautions. Breathe a bit and don't work yourself up into a panic.
"I just think they need to let this staff do their job," he said. "They have shown that they are going to be in the hunt in a short period of time. They have assembled a staff that's diverse and really can reach out to various areas. They're very well-tied in to Chicago and the suburbs."
Winning and making the NCAA Tournament in the 2012-13 season will go a long way towards changing the direction of Illinois basketball in high school players' and fans' eyes. Henricksen agrees.
"A big part, I think, is going to be finding a way, somehow, to overachieve this year with the group they have," Henricksen said. "I think that will lend itself to opening more doors. In the long run, it's not going to happen overnight, but I think this staff will be just fine with getting Illinois basketball to a higher level than it is right now."