Illini fall a bit in 2013 rankings

It’s a slight bump down from what the ranking was last fall.

But Illinois still has garnered a solid evaluation from Rivals.com when it comes to John Groce’s Class of 2013.

Illinois checks in at No. 17 in the team rankings released by the recruiting service on Wednesday, down seven spots from the No. 10 position it was in last October out of the 30 schools Rivals lists.

Three of the five signees Illinois has in the class — Chicago Simeon guard Kendrick Nunn, Belleville East forward Malcolm Hill and Gill St. Bernard’s (N.J.) forward Austin Colbert — are among the top 150 players in the class, according to Rivals.

Springboro (Ohio) center Maverick Morgan and Simeon guard Jaylon Tate were unranked, but are both listed as three-star recruits.

“A product of Chicago’s public league, Nunn is a good wing defender with some offense,” Rivals’ national recruiting analyst Eric Bossi writes. “Hill can score and has a chance to take off if he adjusts to physical play of the Big Ten. Colbert is a fluid big man who can run the floor while Morgan has the size and skill to play at the four or the five. Tate is another Chicago product and a steady hand at the point.”

It’s no surprise Kentucky has the top team ranking — a spot it held last fall — with six McDonald’s All-Americans coming to Lexington next season under coach John Calipari.

“At least on paper, John Calipari and his staff have put together what could be the most highly ranked recruiting class of all-time,” Bossi writes. “Of course time will tell if these players live up to their rankings.”

Kansas checks in at No. 2 in the team rankings, with Memphis at No. 3. Arizona, Duke, Indiana, Louisville, Florida, Marquette and LSU, in that order, round out the top 10.

Other Big Ten schools in the top 30 are Michigan (No. 12 with a three-player class) and Purdue (No. 23 with a three-player class).

Coach Tom Crean has six players set to come in for his sixth-ranked class at Indiana.

Annual foe Missouri is ranked just ahead of Illinois at No. 16 with a four-man class.

Another program to note is the emergence of SMU.

The private school out of Dallas, which has former Illinois assistant Jerrance Howard on staff, was able to land two prep players from Illinois (Bolingbrook’s Ben Moore and Proviso East’s Sterling Brown) last fall for its Class of 2013, but the No. 14 ranking bestowed upon the Mustangs probably has more to do with the early April commitment of McDonald’s All-American guard Keith Frazier from Kimball (Texas) High School.

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