Monday, February 27, 2017 83
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Who's the next prep star coming Bruce Weber's way? Ask Paul Klee who is chatting today.
Afternoon everyone. Time for another Illinois basketball chat - be here for about an hour to take your questions. Klee
Must the Illini basketball team win now (25ish wins in the regular season) and be very competetive in the NCAA's (win at least two games) to have any chance of landing the top recruits in 2013 & 2014 in Illinois?
JE- In plenty of cases what happens on the court doesn't have a significant effect on recruiting. It's backward, I know. I remember covering an Illinois loss to Tennessee State, and you had several recruits in the stands (Tyler Griffey, Crandall Head, etc.) and all of them said the result wouldn't impact their decision. Recruits often care about other things. But I do think the 2011-12 season is an exception. Several coaches in Chicago have told me players are watching to make certain the arrow is pointing up. I don't think it's a win total you should look for. Just progress. Finally, is 25 wins in the regular season really an expectation? There's only been something like nine 25-win seasons, including postseasons, in Illinois history. Seems a lot to ask. Klee
Two player comparison questions: 1) how does Mike Shaw compare to a young Brian Cook? 2) how does Tracy Abrams compare to a young Chester Frazier?
Spike- 1) Very different, Cook was a supreme scorer 2) Similar in some ways, with their competitive edge and how hard they play. Wayne McClain tells me, "We'd love him (Abrams) to be like Chester" in terms of his competitiveness. I continue to be impressed with Tracy Abrams. He'd be one of my first picks in a Gus Macker game - doesn't have an ounce of taking-it-easy in his body. The players were put through a rigorous defensive workout on Monday. I watched Abrams go through the entire drill and, while everyone else was tugging on their shorts, he's diving for a loose ball. Klee
Do you think if Thomas Hamilton Jr. committed now we would take him and not hold out for Jabari Parker? Or is there another way to open up another scholarship for JP?
Tom- Yes, they would take him. Fans are far more concerned with scholarship numbers when you're dealing with a class that far down the road. It's up there with zone defense and playing 11 guys as obsessions go. Things happen, players transfer, leave early, redshirts don't take a fifth year, don't qualify, whatever. Jabari Parker would have a scholarship available at Illinois if that's where he wanted to go. Klee
Help-please explain...We have 4 scholleys for '13 (incl 1 in '12) & we now have James, Hill,& Orris which leaves 1 for Parker, Hamilton, Harris, etc (why)!?! Orris isn't rated so he won't play ahead of Abrams & James. We don't need him-he's an MVC player. Am I wrong? Thx
Would Illinois accept a commitment from T. Hamilton if it came today?
I know you touched on this in your "...What it Means" article this week, but how does the staff handle the recruitment of Tommy Hamilton if they are holding the only currently open 2013 scholly for Parker?
All- See above. Don't really have anything else to add. Illinois is still recruiting Tommy Hamilton Jr. and is working to get all those guys on campus in the near future, possibly this weekend. Klee
Have you had a chance to observe Illini individual player workouts and if so would you provide a progress report? Curious to find out if the guards are working on shooting and ball handling drills and if there is improvement.
How is Devin L doing?
Dan- Devin Langford is participating in workouts. The key there will be improving his conditioning. He only participated in one of the Italy practices, way back on June 28, before getting injured. He took part in Monday's ordeal, which the players dreaded, because it combined conditioning, individual workouts and weightlifting. It wasn't easy. And Langford hasn't been exposed to this kind of basketball, or the intensity of these workouts. It's an adjustment. He has the physical tools to be a factor later in his career - long arms, body that can gain weight, etc. Klee
Is Rozier still coming in this weekend now that there are no 2012 scholarships available? Will be an interesting visit for sure. Malcolm Hill seems like he could be very good by the time he gets to Illinois. Of course lots of time between now and then. Also who wins the football game this weekend?
Bob- No, Illinois was always a long shot with Terry Rozier, who committed to Louisville. Malcolm Hill's strength is what he can do in transition. And his coach believes the 15-year-old - he doesn't turn 16 until Oct. 26 - will benefit even more than most when he has the resources of a Big Ten program (weightroom, nutrition plans, etc). Finally, Illinois beats Arizona State on Saturday. There is a roundabout basketball connection there, too. I remember when ASU quarterback Brock Osweiler committed to Gonzaga - to play basketball - way back in 2006. He's a Montana kid. Klee
More a comment: when we do not get a recruit, we complain, now we get two and complain. Surprised Bruce hasn't lost his hair
JJ- His hair's in great shape. Always in place. I'd be more worried about his nose. He was boxing out Meyers Leonard the other day, and Meyers has some elbows. Klee
I'm a little concerned that the Orris commit shows a ballhandling issue with the current roster. Do you think the coaching staff has the same concern as it seems that scholarship may have been better utilized the following year with Jalen James coming and Parker and Hamilton hopefully still in the mix for one remaining spot at present?
Jeff- Well, there was a ballhandling issue. You watched last season, no? It was last season's Illini greatest weakness - not enough guys that could handle the ball. Bruce Weber has said as much on many occasions. Here's something he told me a while ago - way back in July - that I don't think I ever shared. So here it is.
"If it all goes right, we can be really good in two years. I think this year we still can be good if it all falls in place. But if you look at the 'ifs' - if Meyers stays (for example) - then you've got some older guys and a good group below them.
"Our biggest fear - and some of it is you go by your recent history - is if you're stuck with one point guard. I would hate for that to happen. I would say right now (back in July) that is the priority."
Good stuff. Klee
Paul - wondering what your thoughts are on Hill vs. Nunn as players (skill set, hoops IQ, intensity) and as they would fit in Weber's system?
Does Coach K and his entourage showing up to Simeon in a limo yesterday kind of show up all the other coaches in attendance? Will Bruce and Jerrance need to rent a Bentley for Simeon's next open gym?
Goob- If Nunn was an inch or two taller I'd peg him as an NBA guy, and he still might be. He's the more shooting guard refined at this point. Malcolm Hill is a leaper, too, and really good in transition. Coaches say his outside shot - compared to where it was - is much better. Maybe the best (and most promising) description of Malcolm Hill came from a coach in the St. Louis area: "He's not a low-maintenance kid. He's a no-maintenance kid." That's what you want to hear.
On a related note, here's what Malcolm Hill said of his visit over the weekend - after he committed to Illinois: "I went to the football game with the players. Then I scrimmaged with the players; that was real good. It was good to play against them. Now I know what I need to work on. Their bodies are more developed than mine. That makes me stay humble (and) know there’s a lot I have to work on."
King- I'll take Jerrance's '72 Cadillac over K's limo. I remember the night he bought he it. Pouring rain, dude pulls up in Cadillac that could double as a train. Huge vehicle, painted in orange-and-blue, complete with a Chief Illiniwek clock in the dashboard. Jerrance doesn't have a problem taking it up to Chicago and driving it from school to school. Klee
Hi Paul, great job on the chats. I'd rather talk about players we already have. Is Devin Langford back to working out? How has he looked and does he have a chance to contribute this season?
Ashlee- Devin Langford went through some of the warmup drills over in Italy but wasn't able to return to the court in full until a week ago. So he came back for the tough part - conditioning and workouts. I think it's really going to help him when the Illini begin full-team workouts on Friday. Starting Thursday, coaches can have their entire teams on the court together for two hours weekly. I think Illinois plans to start Friday due to its recruiting schedule. That will really be the first time he's been involved in a team setting. This season? I think it will be tough. He got a late start. You can tell he's a little lost at this point, as most players would be in his situation. But you never know. He could come on strong leading up to the season. Don't have enough of a feel for it - he missed a lot of time with the injury. He's one of the most popular players on the team, though, and said he's enjoying at Illinois. Long way to go with that one. Klee
Going to wrap this up. Good chat today. Thanks for the questions and apologies to those that didn't get answered. Klee's Corner coming later this week. Enjoyed my conversation with Ibrahima Djimde - some in English, some in French, some in his native language of Bambara - and I'll have his story in there. Talk to you later. Klee