What Colbert's decision means

What Colbert's decision means

It may have taken longer than anticipated or expected, but Austin Colbert made his college decision on Monday.

And for Illinois fans, especially those figuring the New Jersey native would choose Villanova or nearby Seton Hall, Colbert's verbal commitment that he would attend Illinois must have been a refreshing bit of news.

Colbert brings added size (6 feet, 9 inches and 210 pounds) to John Groce's first recruiting class. He could form a nice complement to Springboro (Ohio) High School's hulking Maverick Morgan (6-11, 240) but not while sacrificing the needed athleticism and quickness to play in today's college game.

With five players now committed — Colbert joins Morgan, Chicago Simeon High School guards Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate and Belleville East (Ill.) High School guard Malcolm Hill — it appears Groce's first class is in order.

While Illinois didn't land the dynamic, game-changing point guard so many Illinois fans craved, Colbert's decision to commit to Illinois might be a good sign for any Class of 2014 prospects.

It shows Groce can put the hard sell on a recruit no matter what state he is from. It means Illinois is back in the mix on the national recruiting scene and could be a player in the future with high-profile out-of-state recruits.

For the last few recruiting classes Bruce Weber put together, he focused his efforts on in-state talent, which, ultimately, didn't pan out the way he and his staff hoped. Groce has shown in his first eight months he can bring in two out-of-state players that aren't merely a two- or three-hour drive away from Champaign-Urbana.

Illinois fans have become accustomed to seeing highly-touted recruiting classes flame out and not produce or meet expectations when they arrive on campus.

We're not sure yet what the Class of 2013 will provide to Illinois basketball on the court, but they've provided a national lift to Illinois' recruiting efforts since Groce took the job.

And for the naysayers out there who feel the players he's bringing in are the same type of players Weber did, imagine what Groce can do in the Class of 2014 and 2015 once he's built the necessary relationships for recruiting.

Illinois pulled off a surprise by landing Colbert, and its effect will be most felt moving forward.

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