Sept. 19 Klee basketball chat

Sept. 19 Klee basketball chat

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 12:30pm

What convinced Kendrick Nunn to say yes? Who's next to commit? Is Rayvonte Rice really 247 pounds? Here's your chance to grill beat writer Paul Klee about all things John Groce. Submit questions any time or follow along during his 12:30 p.m. Wednesday chat.

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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Afternoon everyone. Time for another Illinois basketball chat. Didn't count 'em, but it looks to be a record number of questions (for mid-September) in the chat today. I'll get to as many I can in the next hour. Fire away. Klee

Elton wrote on September 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

You have mentioned that John Groce ideally wants a class of 5 recuits. However, if both XRM and Demetrius Jackson end up at Illinois, do you see Illinois still going hard after Austin Colbert? Is there a possibility of a 6th man class?

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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Elton- Yes, under that scenario, that’s more than possible, it’s likely. If Illinois takes four perimeter guys and Mav Morgan - and can add an athletic forward - it would take six in '13. Austin Colbert is the kind of mobile forward that fits how they want to play. Klee

lmaran wrote on September 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

What is the grape-vine news about Demetrius Jackson after his visit to Illinois?

NaplesIllini71

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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Naples- Demetrius Jackson said he's scheduled to visit Notre Dame this weekend, Friday through Sunday. His brother lives in South Bend as well. The Irish also have recruit VJ Beachem scheduled for his official visit this weekend. After considering a visit to KU last weekend, Jackson chose to stay home. He told me it was short notice. I didn’t think the staff could top Demetrius Jackson’s visit to Illinois, but I think they did with Kendrick Nunn’s visit. There’s a chance you’ll see Illinois coaches make a visit to Mishawaka on Thursday. This is what you might call a fullcourt press. Klee

Joe Augspurger wrote on September 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Would it work for all four of Hill, Nunn, Rathan-Mayes, and Jackson to join Morgan in next year's class? The amount of talent would be amazing, but doesn't that leave the team at a size deficit? Or does Coach Groce's system work with only 4 big men (Egwu, Djimde, Shaw, and Morgan). Would he go 4 guards?

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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Joe- Under that scenario, yes, they would go four perimeter players. You could play Joe Bertrand or Ray Rice at the 4-spot. It's something they've considered - if that situation were to play out. Don't worry about a size deficit. You've gone too many years without enough ballhandlers. Take Xavier Rathan-Mayes, for example. He can play both guard spots, which is a big part of the attraction. "I can pass the ball pretty well," Rathan-Mayes told me last night. "And I can score the ball." That's John Groce's focus in '13 - finding guys that can create. Klee

Chris Nichols wrote on September 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Any reason to worry that any recruits won't sign in November?  Do I have Eric Gordon disease now when it comes to recruiting?

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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Chris- Thanks for the question. No, I think it’s just called being an Illinois fan. It’s a perpetual state of anxiety and expecting the worst. None of the committed prospects – Malcolm Hill, Maverick Morgan or Kendrick Nunn – have given any indication their commitment is unstable. Hill was on campus 10 days ago for Demetrius Jackson's visit, and Morgan has an official visit set for Oct. 27. Melvin Nunn told me this morning that Kendrick Nunn's next visit probably would be for a basketball game, when Simeon's schedule allows it. "They're playing that national schedule again," Melvin Nunn said. "I'm sure we'll get down there (when it's possible)." Hope that helps. Klee

Jman wrote on September 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I am psyched about the Kendrick Nunn commitment.

2013 lineup: tell me on a scale of 1-10 what the chances of this are

 

PG Tracy Abrams

SG Kendrick Nunn

3    Joe Bertrand

4    Jabari Parker

C   Nnanna Egwu

 

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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Jman- On that scale, it’s a 1. Provided he’s healthy, and he's quite healthy right now, Rayvonte Rice will be a starter as a fourth-year junior. Klee

Ed wrote on September 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I am excited just like everyone on the committment of Kendrick Nunn.  However, Groce has not coached a game here yet and we have no idea what his on the court coaching ability is at this level.  I believe expectations are a bit high right now and need to be tempered.  Our last coach did manage to get some great recruits but could not manage them on or off the court.


Klee tell me if I'm way off base here.


Also with us now pursuing XRM that would bring us to 3 wing type players in this class.  Does that at all jeapordize the committment of Malcolm Bey-Hill to us?  I would hate to lose him.


 


 


 

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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Ed- I assume you mean Malcolm Hill. To answer your question, no. There's been no indication his commitment is unstable. Confirming Malcolm Hill's verbal commitment was their first recruiting success at Illinois. He was being courted by other programs in the meantime. Klee

Robert Pack wrote on September 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

PK-
One would have to think with Calhoun retiring, that UCONN has fallen in XRM's top three, right? Who wins a game of one on one? You or Marcus Jackson?

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm
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Pack Man- Xavier Rathan-Mayes told me last night he's still planning to take an official visit to UConn next weekend (Sept. 28-30). We'll see. Probably a good time to mention this - what an impressive 18-year-old. Not sure I've talked to a more articulate high school prospect. Knows exactly what he's looking for in a program. Rathan-Mayes said the Illinois visit will be his first official visit. He made an unofficial to Florida State, though it was a Friday-through-Sunday visit. "I know everything I need to know (about FSU)," he said, in part because his father played there. Both of his parents will join him on the Illinois visit. And I'll have more on Rathan-Mayes in Thursday's News-Gazette. As for a 1-on-1 game with Marcus Jackson, we've already played. I won and got a trophy. It's on my desk at the office, right next to the Iverson-Melo magazine cover. MJ's wanted a rematch since '08. Maybe I'll give him one. MJ's an excellent athlete - high school quarterback, college baseball player, not scared to mix it up on the golf course. But the trophy still stands. It's the only tangible evidence we have to study. And he's so mad right now. I fully expect retribution in Saturday's Live Report from Memorial Stadium. Klee

chicago1 wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Can you give some details on what recruits do on their offical visit besides football game / scrimmage etc... Also, how is Groce's interaction and the best current player recruiter? Thanks!!!

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm
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Chicago1- Varies from prospect to prospect. With a guy like Demetrius Jackson, who's more interested in the relationship aspect, they wanted to get him around the team, around the staff and show him the comfortability factor. Other guys prefer a spotlight visit, parties, play it up, give him the Reggie Rose rockstar treatment. So they try to identify a guy's personality and customize the visit to fit it. Some staffs don't always want a prospect to scrimmage with the current team. Other staffs do. You'll see Xavier Rathan-Mayes at the Illinois-Louisiana Tech football game Saturday night. But he said one positive with Illinois is that "it's a basketball school," so they have that working in their favor. Best player-recruiter? Joseph Bertrand told me yesterday that D.J. Richardson is one of the best. "He's always wanting to do something," Bertrand said. "He's just go, go, go." The player-recruiter aspect is one area that has greatly improved within the Illinois program. This is a group of players that embraces their role in recruiting. Klee

Josh in Bloomington wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Paul - Is there any chance that the 'Sports Page' show will me made available? I'd hate to miss it, especially after such a big weekend.


One other question: Is the staff still recruting Larry Austin? If so, does his continued recruitment hinge on Demetrious Jackson's decision?

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm
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Josh- Contact WDWS about the podcast. Monday's show was a good one, haven't asked why there wasn't a podcast. I'll be on tonight with Steve Kelly and Trent Meacham on SportsTalk. Looking forward to it. Yes, the Illinois staff is still recruiting Larry Austin Jr. To answer your question, that recruitment doesn't hinge solely on Demetrius Jackson's decision, but if you take an established ballhandler in 2013, you can take a flyer on a 2014 prospect that may or may not be a point guard. Klee

Just some dude wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

First off, great coverage by you and great work by the staff to secure Nunn.

So what is the new and interesting way I can ask "will we get Jackson and XRM?" while anxiously awaiting a response like a schoolgirl awaiting a prom date.

Do you believe the staff and the Nunn family will have a sense of surprise if Jackson doesn't ultimately commit to the U of I?

Do you feel there will be any significant family connections with XRM (parents went to FSU, Father lives by Uconn) that will substantially work against us the way "state pride" worked for us with Nunn?

If Groce somehow pulls off the miracle of adding Jackson and XRM, do you believe he would be willing to oversign by 1 for the right PF?

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm
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Just- I'll try to go in order here. First question, no, they wouldn't be surprised if Jackson chooses ND, the Irish have been involved for much longer and you can't beat the proximity. But there would be disappointment. His is the position of greatest need, and the relationship between player and staff is Ziplock-tight. For your second question, yes, there are family connections at work with Rathan-Mayes. His father played at FSU and lives in Connecticut. Illinois is the outlier in that recruitment but has done such a fine job in his recruitment that John Groce's staff has made itself a factor. Rathan-Mayes reminded me yesterday that former Illini assistant Jerrance Howard began recruiting him this time last year. Getting an official visit this weekend is significant. For your final question, yes, they would attempt to take a power forward, if it works out that way with four perimeter guys. Thanks. Klee

illiniwood12 wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I see that Xavier Rathan-Mayes is making an official visit and has his schools narrowed to 3.  If he committed would we have enough scholarships to land demetrius jackson too? If not, would we take his commitment or wait and see if we get the true point guard?  Also, what is the status of DJ, I saw kansas got a good point guard in connor frankamp, would that take them out of the running and have it just be between the illini and notre dame? 

thanks for the chats

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm
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Illiniwood- To answer the first question, yes, you have enough scholarships to take both. For the second one, you take a commitment from Xavier Rathan-Mayes, lock it in a safe and don't tell anyone the combination. You don't wait on a talent like him. For your final question, I expect it will be between Illinois and Notre Dame, and Kansas believes the same. Still, neither coaching staff wants Jackson to take a visit to Kansas. And that hasn't happened yet. Thanks, going quickly here. Klee

Bob Belmar wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Mr. Klee: First, KUDOS to you for being only 'media' to want Coach Groce. I remember other 'experts' wanted Frank Martin/Smart/Stephens. That said... i still dont understand why ILLINOIS is recruiting midmajor like Rice from Drake. Tell me again why?? Thank you Bob

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm
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Bob- Thanks. Can't convince you taking Rayvonte Rice was a good idea. To me, it was a no-brainer. Illinois isn't in a position where it's overloaded with talents like Rice. Illinois missed three of the past five NCAA tournaments. Guys weren't knocking down their door. But I suppose it will take a season of watching Rice to convince some folks, and that's fine.

Thought Kareem Richardson had some good things to say in our Sunday feature on Rayvonte Rice. Richardson has recruited at all levels - from the MVC (he recruited Rice to Drake) to the Atlantic 10 (Xavier) to the Big East (Louisville) - and believes Rice will be fine.

"I've seen him do it against every high-major, big (program) we played — Big Ten, Valley — it didn't matter to him," Richardson said. "Being a scorer and with what he does, you are who you are. I don't care if people might say he's too small (in height), it doesn't matter. He scores on people. Always has."

Hope that helps. Klee

Edroy wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Are we recruiting anyone over 6'4".  These guards we are getting, and going after are great, but what about power forwards?  Who is going to rebound?  Thanks.

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm
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Ed- To answer quickly, they want to line up ballhandling and playmakers and figure out the frontcourt from there. You can't ignore talents like Jackson and Rathan-Mayes. If it comes to it, they play Rice or Bertrand at the 4 and hope the younger big men develop. They're hopeful with Nnanna Egwu, for one. Part of the focus right now is to cut down on his fouls. But to answer, the coaching staff would love the opportunity to worry about playing small. That means they got their top targets. And they would adjust. Klee

Jeremy Piven wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

What's the latest on midnight madness?  Seems like a great recruiting opportunity, but hey, maybe this Groce guy doesn't need any more help.

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm
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Piv- Illinois doesn't have plans for a Midnight Madness. That event hasn't helped in recent years. On a related note, the first day of practice is Oct. 12 - the same day as the Bulls-Cavs exhibition at the Assembly Hall. Klee

Aidan wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Greetings from Kansas City.  It seems the current staff and their recruiting is a stark contrast compared to the previous staff.  Could you provide more insight into the recruiting styles of the two staff's and how they differ? 

 

Keep up the great work.

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm
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Aidan- I'll speak to this coaching staff. It saw an in-state class in '13 that was short on impact guys, so it broadened its recruiting reach from California (London Perrantes) to New Jersey (Austin Colbert) to Indiana (Demetrius Jackson) to Toronto/West Virginia (Rathan-Mayes) to other stops between. They're going to emphasize Chicago - without overemphasizing Chicago. You've seen the same with Ohio State. That in-state pipeline in Ohio isn't what it was, so Matta's staff is throwing out a larger net. I've said before this coaching staff is bizarrely detailed in its approach to recruiting visits. And I think you've seen that pay off with guys like Mav Morgan, Kendrick Nunn and Demetrius Jackson. All had great visits and put them in a position to earn a commitment. On a related (in-state) note, Louisville was in to see Keita Bates-Diop today, according to Illinois Wolves coach Mike Mullins. Hope that helps. Klee

Paul Klee wrote on September 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm
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Going to wrap this up, we've gone way over. Good chat today - thanks to your questions. Wish I could get to all of them, there are dozens left, and I apologize for that. We go in order of when they are submitted. I'll be on SportsTalk on WDWS from 5-6 p.m. tonight if you have more. And we'll have plenty of recruiting updates in Klee's Corner on Sunday, including a closer look at the Kendrick Nunn recruitment. Thanks for making this chat what it has become. Appreciate it. Klee