Groce tries to woo wife — and recruit
Ladies, be jealous of Allison Groce.
The wife of Illinois coach John Groce took a flight with her husband on Valentine's Day. Plus dinner.
And, of course, a basketball game.
"About a week ago I said, 'Allison, I know Feb. 14 is Valentine's Day, but you're going with me to go watch a kid play,'" the Illinois coach said with a smile towards the end of his postgame press conference after Wednesday night's 79-59 home win against Purdue. "I was almost in trouble because where I was going, I wasn't going to be able to take her out to eat because the places were booked."
Luckily, Illinois men's basketball administrative assistant Julie Pioletti was able to find a spot for Groce and his significant other, the coach said.
Where, you might ask? Southeastern New Mexico. Groce was out of state recruiting on Thursday night, taking in New Mexico Junior College guard Desmond Lee, a 6-foot-4-inch, 195-pound combo guard who recently picked up a scholarship offer from Illinois.
"I'm going recruiting," Groce said when asked what he had planned on a scheduled day off for Illinois. "That's how we're going to spend (Thursday). Without the kids, we don't get a whole lot of time to just sit and talk with one another, so we'll probably just stare at each other. I'm looking forward to spend some time with her and getting a chance to go out."
Lee — a Norfolk, Va., native who wound up at the junior college in Hobbs, N.M., after he didn't qualify academically to attend Texas El-Paso out of high school — made the Groce's date night a superb one.
He scored 22 points and grabbed five rebounds, but New Mexico Junior College lost 69-64 to Howard (Texas) College.
Lee most likely won't make a decision until after his season ends in mid-March, New Mexico Junior College coach Brian Lohrey said Wednesday, and aside from an offer from Illinois also has offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Creighton, North Carolina State and Miami (Fla.).
Of course, this could make for an interesting situation given Illinois does not currently have any scholarships to hand out since all 13 are filled for the 2013-14 season unless one of the current underclassmen leave.