Illinois basketball fans received a bit of surprising news when they woke up early Tuesday morning.
A high-profile Class of 2015 recruit from the state’s prominent high school team committed to John Groce’s team.
Say hello to D.J. Williams, the newest Illinois commit.
Groce continued his trend of reeling in players from the Wolverines.
Williams’ decision makes him the third Simeon player to commit to Illinois in the nearly 20 months Groce has had the Illinois job.
“It just goes to show what type of person John Groce is from a personality perspective and a relationship perspective in how he’s connecting and relating to different types of schools and programs and players,” said Joe Henricksen, publisher of the City/Suburban Hoops Report. “I just think it says a lot about who he is as a coach and what he brings to the table. Those are some star-like qualities you see in big-time coaches. A lot of credt goes to John Groce, too, for assembling what I think is a terrific coaching staff that mixes and blends well together. That’s an underrated value in a coaching staff and in a head coach in putting together the right staff. Yes, John Groce is the star, but he’s got some guys on that staff who really have a clue of how to get this job done.”
Like Paris Parham.
The Illinois assistant coach and Chicago native helped use his city connections and built-in relationship with those around the Simeon program in landing the four-star recruit, who also had offers from DePaul, Florida, Georgetown, Purdue and Tennessee.
“It’s a kid who had been recruited extremely hard by one school in particular (in Illinois) and a whole bunch of others,” Henricksen said. “Illinois just did a terrific job with him from Day 1. Paris Parham had a previous relationship with Simeon. When he got hired, he was right there recruiting him hard. The whole staff stayed on him from that point on. It all kind of led to this.”
Williams had a reserve role last year at Simeon, averaging 4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.
The Wolverines started four players who are now at Division I programs in Jabari Parker (Duke), Kendrick Nunn (Illinois), Jaylon Tate (Illinois) and Kendall Pollard (Dayton).
He’ll step into the starting lineup for Simeon this season.
“As a player, you love his versatility,” Henricksen said. “He’s got just this prototype wing size and is a legit 6-7 who can handle it and who can shoot it. He’s more of a smooth athlete instead of an explosive one. He’s just got to be given the opportunity, which is going to come this year. He sat behind a loaded roster last year. He’s got a high, high ceiling. What’s exciting is he’s far from maxed out. I just think he’s going to be a whole lot better than what he is right now.”