Will another highly-regarded out-of-state basketball player in the Class of 2013 spurn Illinois?
It appears Illinois fans might find out today.
Austin Colbert, a 6-foot-8-inch, 210-pound forward about to start his senior season at Gill St. Bernard's School in Gladstone, N.J., is supposed to make his college choice today, which also doubles as his birthday.
Colbert — who is ranked 91st in the Class of 2013 according to Rivals.com — has narrowed his list down to Illinois, Miami (Fla.), Seton Hall and Villanova.
He came to Champaign-Urbana the last weekend in September for his official visit, and just finished an official visit to Villanova last weekend.
With guard prospects like Demetrius Jackson (Notre Dame) and Xavier Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) flirting with Illinois before ultimately deciding to go elsewhere, Colbert is a prospect who could fill a need in John Groce's first recruiting class and be the first recruit outside the Midwest to land at Illinois under Groce.
"They're obviously recruiting guys very hard that they may not have an advantage with," Alex Kline of TheRecruitScoop.com said. "With Demetrius Jackson, he lives five minutes from South Bend. I was talking to a Notre Dame coach over the summer when he was close to verbally committing who said, 'You know, we've never had a kid this close that we really wanted.' That puts Illinois at a disadvantage, but they're certainly doing a good job in staying involved with these guys and staying involved for so long."
Kline — an 18-year-old freshman at Syracuse University who has a credible reputation in recruiting circles and who was profiled in Sports Illustrated last winter — thinks Illinois' chances of landing Colbert aren't that great.
"I've been saying that for a while," Kline said. "It's definitely tough to branch out to those places when you don't really have that many connections, especially when the program's not doing so well and it's going through a rebuilding time."
Even if Kline doesn't like the possibility of Colbert winding up at Illinois, he likes what Groce has done so far on the recruiting trail in his first season.
"It was great that they got Colbert on campus," Kline said. "Coach Groce has a good history, but it's tough recruiting those guys who don't know too much about the program."