Much of the current attention revolving around the Illinois men’s basketball team is what seed John Groce and his squad will receive in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament.
While the Illini will most likely secure a spot in the 68-team NCAA Tournament field no matter how the regular season ends Sunday at Ohio State or how Illinois fares next week in Chicago at the Big Ten Tournament, how future Illinois teams will do is just as easy a topic to speculate on.
Rivals.com added to the speculation on Wednesday when the recruiting service released its initial top 50 list in regards to the Class of 2015.
The current high school sophomores are still two seasons away from taking to the floor for the 2015-16 college basketball season, but how Groce does with the Class of 2015 will be heavily scrutinized.
With the way the current roster is, Groce will have six scholarships available for the Class of 2015. Devin Langford is the only current Illinois player who could still be around that would be on scholarship.
Of course, that could change if walk-on Mike LaTulip is given a scholarship.
Illinois has interest in several of the players in Rivals’ rankings, which has 6-foot-9, 195-pound forward Ivan Rabb from Bishop O’Dowd (Calif.) High School as the top player. Rabb has offers from Arizona, California, Kansas, North Carolina and North Carolina State.
Of the players in the top 50, Illinois has offers out to five with strong interest in another.
Chicago St. Rita guard Charles Matthews headlines the list of players Illinois is coveting.
The 6-4, 180-pound shooting guard/small forward who has offers from Illinois, Arizona, DePaul, Providence and SMU is ranked ninth.
Elijah Thomas, a 6-9, 235-pound power forward from Prime Prep Academy in Dallas, is slotted in at No. 10. Thomas has a lengthy list of offers, Illinois included, with Arizona, Baylor, Connecticut, Houston, Kentucky, Louisville, Masschusetts, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, SMU, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M in the mix.
Carlton Bragg, a 6-9, 205-pound forward from Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Ohio) High School only has offers from Missouri and Ohio State, but strong interest from Illinois along with a handful of other schools. He checks in at No. 27.
D.J. Williams, a 6-6, 185-pound forward from Chicago Simeon High School who has offers from Illinois, DePaul, Florida, Nebraska and SMU, is ranked 34th.
Shooting guard Jalen Coleman (6-4, 180) from Indianapolis Cathedral High School, is in at No. 35 and has offers from Illinois, Indiana, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Providence and Purdue, while Stevenson (Ill.) High School point guard Jalen Brunson (5-11, 160) rounds out the list of Illinois targets at No. 45.
Brunson has offers from Illinois, DePaul, SMU and Xavier.