A closer look at scholarship numbers
JaQuan Lyle dropped 44 points in an AAU game.
A few hours later, Darius Paul committed to Illinois.
Both noteworthy moments dominated Twitter late Saturday night.
And both recruiting tidbits were on the forefront of some Illinois basketball fans.
It's one of the most-often questions in regards to John Groce's team, who can only have 13 players on scholarship during a season. Those are the NCAA rules.
Consider that in late March, the Illinois did not have any open scholarships to use.
Then Mike Shaw, Devin Langford and Ibby Djimde announced they were transferring.
The moves opened up three scholarships for Illinois to use.
Which the Illini have. With transfers.
Aaron Cosby (Seton Hall), Jon Ekey (Illinois State) and Paul (Western Michigan) have all signified they were leaving their original schools to play for Groce.
The list could add another name.
Oregon State point guard Ahmad Starks visited Illinois last week and could make a decision soon.
Right now, Illinois has currently used all of its available scholarships for the 2013-14 season with the news that Paul is transferring.
That's without Starks in the fold.
Rumors are rampant that Myke Henry could transfer, which would free up a scholarship for next season.
But what if, say, Henry doesn't transfer and Starks arrives at Illinois?
Looking at the numbers, that would give Illinois 14 players for the 2013-14 season on scholarship (Mike LaTulip is a walk-on), but two of those players (Cosby and Paul) aren't eligible because of transfer rules.
That would leave one player on the Illinois roster who could not be on scholarship then.
It's a particular sticky situation, but one that would have a way of working itself out.
Recruiting numbers always have a way of doing that.
Since Illinois has become a popular destination for transfer players (six since Groce assumed the job in March 2012), what does that mean for high school recruits?
Illinois is slated to lose two scholarships after the 2013-14 season after Joe Bertrand and Ekey use up their eligibility, which would free up one scholarship left for the Class of 2014 (still following along?).
Champaign Centennial big man Michael Finke, a Class of 2014 prospect, would take the spot of either Bertrand or Ekey's scholarship.
That would leave Groce and his staff only one scholarship (this is assuming Henry is still around) to use on a highly-touted Class of 2014 among the likes of Lyle, the Evansville Bosse guard, Chicago Curie power forward Cliff Alexander and others.
All of this is dependent upon the Illinois roster staying put.
While the approach to take on transfers or try to lure several high-level high school players can be debated by fans for endless hours, this is the scholarship number scenario facing Illinois men's basketball. At least for right now.