I had several questions that went unanswered from my chat last Friday. Here's what we missed while Illinois fans debated whether Tim Beckman was a good hire or not.
From Brent Moore,
Lets get past the disappointment in not getting Jackson and be optimistic for the next recruiting class. Who do you think are Coach Groce's biggest targets in recruiting for the 2014 class? You do a great job as always!
Hi Brent -
I have to say, it seems you're in the minority of optimistic Illinois fans out there, but appreciate your question. While some Illinois fans will undoubtedly want big men Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander from Chicago to head south down Interstate 57 in two years, I think Normal University (Ill.) High School junior forward Keita Bates-Diop is one of the more intriguing prospects in the Class of 2014, and one Illinois might have a shot at landing.
He's a 6-8 forward with a 7-3 wingspan who needs to add some bulk. But his length and athleticism, not to mention his decision-making, skill set and ability to score the ball, are definite pluses. If Illinois can't land a top-notch point guard in the Class of 2013 (and it doesn't appear like they will be able to do that), point guard Tyler Ulis — who I wrote about in Tuesday's blog — from Marian Catholic (Ill.) High School is another one to keep an eye on. When I talked to Joe Henricksen, the publisher of the always insightful City/Suburban Hoops Report about Ulis — who is listed at 5-9 — he said he's not necessarily a fan of small point guards, but when he sees talent, he recognizes it. Ulis is that kind of player.
From Dennis Bialas,
What do you see for commits for the FB team in the near future? Will we try to load up on receivers, because we sorely lack for a downfield passing game? Also with the transfers of Nowicki and Klachko does this lessen our need for O-line? What are our realistic chances with Treadwell and Augusta?
Hi Dennis -
Thanks for the football question. It seems a large majority of the ones I get are basketball-related, but understandably so with the struggles the football team has had this season.
Illinois picked up a commitment Monday night from Tyler White, a 6-5, 235-pound senior tight end from Plainwell (Mich.) High School. He's the first tight end in the Class of 2013 to give Illinois a verbal. Illinois has one firm wide receiver commit so far for next season in Martize Barr, a wideout at Iowa Western Community College. Other options include Reon Dawson, a senior from Trotwood-Madison (Ohio) High School and Caleb Day from Darby (Ohio) High School. I'd have to think head coach Tim Beckman and staff would want to add one or two more wide receivers to the mix.
You can never have offensive linemen, as is evident with this Illinois football team as injuries have forced some shuffling through the first month of the season. Illinois has two offensive linemen so far in the Class of 2013 in Jesse Chadwell from Clarkson (Mich.) High School and Austin Schmidt from Olentangy (Ohio) High School. Another commit, Christian DiLauro from Green High School in Uniontown, Ohio, is a tight end but projected to play O-line at Illinois.
As far as realistic chances with Laquon Treadwell, a senior wide receiver from Crete-Monee (Ill.) High School, I'd say slim. He has interest from some of the top programs in the country, and if he winds up playing in the Big Ten, expect it to be for either Michigan or Michigan State. As far as Josh Augusta, a defensive tackle from Peoria Central (Ill.) High School, it appears Missouri is his favorite at the moment. But Illinois has put itself in a good position with him, but will likely need to show signs of progress this year in order to land him.
From Chief Fan,
Where do you think we stand on Xavier Rathan Mayes?
Hi Chief Fan -
According to reports out of Connecticut, the combo guard from Huntington (W. Va.) Prep who had an official visit to Illinois Sept. 21-23, he postponed his official visit last weekend to Connecticut. He is still expected to make his decision — which will likely come down to Illinois, Connecticut and Florida State — in a press conference on Oct. 13.
I think Illinois has put itself in as good a position as it can in regards to Rathan-Mayes. If he commits to Illinois, he is a player that John Groce can help build his program around. But fending off Connecticut, even with its sanctions and the retirement of head coach Jim Calhoun, and Florida State, where Rathan-Mayes' father played, will be tough to overcome.
From DJax's word,
Hi, I know the PG situation in Illinois is pretty bare right now. Besides Smith are there any other point guards prospects in the Midwest that Groce and his staff have their eyes on? Would they wait until the spring to sign a PG?
Hi DJax's word -
Wrote last week that Jaylon Tate from Chicago Simeon High School and teammate of Illinois commit Kendrick Nunn is a possible point guard prospect for the Class of 2013.
Groce and his staff made hay in September by getting Nunn to commit after a weekend visit. I think that may have given the idea to Illinois fans that all recruits would commit that quickly and just as easily. It's a risky situation if Illinois waits until spring to sign a point guard for the Class of 2013. That said, the reward is a senior who isn't getting much interest could burst onto the scene and be a late steal for Illinois.