Nov. 16 recruiting chat

Nov. 16 recruiting chat

Friday, November 16, 2012 - 1:00pm

Has there ever been a better signing day considering the men's and women's hauls? What about next year - can John Groce and Matt Bollant do even better? Ask HQ recruiting blogger Matt Daniels, who is chatting at 1 p.m. Friday. Submit questions any time.

Matt Daniels wrote on November 16, 2012 at 12:11 pm
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Good afternoon everyone on this nice Friday afternoon. Matt Daniels here for another weekly recruiting chat. I'll be here until roughly 2 p.m. We've already got some questions in the mix, but feel free to submit any in the next hour.

Thanks again for the interest, and let's get started.

Illini1973 wrote on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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With Nunn and Tate in the fold, should we read anything into Parker not signing until spring?

Matt Daniels wrote on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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Hi Illini1973,

Even with Chicago Simeon guards Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate signing letters of intent on Wednesday evening, the chances of Illinois landing Simeon star Jabari Parker are unrealistic at this point. Parker and his family, who have been dealing with the recruiting process for close to four years now, have narrowed it down to five schools — BYU, Duke, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford. Even an undefeated season by Illinois and constant pitches by Nunn and Tate still probably wouldn't be enough to persuade Parker to head to Champaign-Urbana.

Wherever Parker does end up choosing, it will end one of the most highly-recruited players in Illinois high school basketball history. But no, I wouldn't read too much into Parker waiting until the spring to sign.

larry harnly wrote on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Please disregard my previous question sent this week.


If the Illini have only one scholarship to give after Bertrand leaves following the 14 season, what is their No. 1 need by position?   Or will they go with the best player?  That senior class will include Okafor, Alexander, Bates-Diop, Finke, O'Meara  and Austin. Of course, it is possible one of the reserves might decide to transfer after this season. 

Matt Daniels wrote on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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Hi Larry -

The greatest position of need for Illinois after this season still remains finding a dynamic and play-making point guard. The Class of 2014 in Illinois does involve some high-caliber players, with Jahlil Okafor out of Chicago Whitney Young the No. 1 consensus player recently after several players reclassified for the Class of 2013.

I'd imagine Illinois to put the hard sell on Evansville (Ind.) Bosse High School point guard Jaquan Lyle, even with Illinois' limited success of landing Indiana players. Larry Austin Jr. is an intriguing talent out of Springfield Lanphier High School who I think would be an ideal fit for Illinois' system. I don't think Groce and his staff are just looking for a point guard to distribute and make sure Illinois gets its offense set up properly. He wants his point guards to fill multiple roles, and if Austin has a standout junior season, I'd expect Illinois to increase its attention on him. His aggressive and attacking nature fits the bill of what guards at the college game look like these days.

After that, landing a player like Keita Bates-Diop out of Normal University High School would be a significant catch for Illinois. There's not too many high school players in the country with his skill set (he's comfortable on the wing, block, handling the ball, defending down low, etc.), plus Illinois is the closest Big Ten school to his hometown. That has to play in Illinois' favor. I'd imagine Groce and his staff would use a similar pitch to Bates-Diop that it used on Kendrick Nunn, essentially saying he could be a cornerstone of the program's future.

Michael Finke from Champaign Centennial High School and Sean O'Mara from Benet Academy in Lise are two promising big men who need to develop a bit more, but they've certainly attracted plenty of interest, Finke in particular, in the past six months. And having a hometown kid like Finke, who has Illinois roots, can certainly help the program from a PR standpoint. But Finke can play, don't get me wrong. It should be interesting watching how his junior season goes.

Not in the know wrote on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Hi Matt.  The previous coaching staff offered a scholarship to Jalen James and he made a verbal commitment.  Later, after Coach Groce was hired, Illinois and Jalen went in a "different direction" and he decommitted.  It appeared pretty clear to me that it was Coach Groce, not Jalen, who was the driving force behing that decomittment.  This may have occured before you were on the beat - I can' recall when you started.

Anyway, what happened to Jalen?  Did he sign anywhere?  The latest information I saw was that he was vising Western Kentucky in October.  He seemed like a solid guy who said a lot of good things.  I hope he landed somewhere, but I certainly am glad Coach Groce is getting the right kind and caliber of players for his style.

Matt Daniels wrote on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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Hi Not in the Know,

Jalen James decommitted in late May before I started working the recruiting beat in late August, but I've got a little background that could help you out.

I think both Jalen James and Groce looked at the situation and the type of player James is and agreed it might not work. James is a skilled point guard, but I don't believe he's the type of point guard Groce wants for his system. If Bruce Weber was still around, then yes, I believe James would become an Illinois player with the 2013-14 season. James is good in transition and is a pass-first, shoot-second type of point guard. I don't think that would necessarily work in Groce's system. The argument out there is that Jalen James and Jaylon Tate are similar type players. Both do have some similar skill sets, but before Tate transferred to Simeon, he was regarded as one of the top players in the Chicago area at De La Salle.

James kind of came out of nowhere when he committed to Illinois. Not much was known about him or his skill set. He's a good kid though. He's personable and funny, even when he knew last winter even that people weren't sure he could play and thrive at Illinois.

As far as James' recruiting these days, he has not signed anywhere. Last I heard Western Kentucky, Providence and Rhode Island were keen on him. He'll most likely land at a Division I school. Just not Illinois.

dennis bialas wrote on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm

How good is the JUCO  defensive back commit? What other positions will we recruit form the JC ranks? Will these players be looked on to play right away? What are our realistic chances of landing Josh Augustas?

Matt Daniels wrote on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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Hi Dennis -

The JUCO defensive back you're referring to is Zane Petty. According to various reports, Petty verbally committed to Illinois on Thursday night. He plays at American River Community College in California, and the 6-foot-1, 180-pound safety leads his team in tackles with 86 and has six interceptions. Certainly solid numbers, especially for a member of the defensive secondary. 

As far as other positions, I'd think offensive line and wide receiver are two position groups that need the most immediate upgrades going into the 2013 season for Illinois. And if you get the right guys from the JUCO system, those two position groups could land some impact players right away.

JUCO players that come in are most likely coming in with the mind-set that they'll contribute right away. They have limited opportunities compared to the incoming freshmen of a particular recruiting class and will want to make the most of it to impress the coaches, fans and pro scouts.

As far as Josh Augusta, the senior defensive tackle/defensive end out of Peoria Central (Ill.) High School, Illinois still is in the mix, along with the same three schools (Missouri, Michigan State and Oklahoma) that he seems to have the most interest in. I tried getting a hold of Augusta and his high school coach a few weeks ago, but am still waiting. If I hear anything, I'll be sure to provide an update. Hope that helps.

Tony Pai wrote on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Hi there Matt - regarding FB recruiting, I remember it had been mentioned by a number of people (Petrino, Zook) that the negative recruting against Illinois was the worst that they had ever seen, which I took to mean something since they had a background in the SEC. Two school in particular were mentioned - Iowa and NW, including NW's "different type of kid" comment. Just curious if you could comment on how things are going now, and if these schools (or others) are pushing Beckman's job security?


Also, do you find Bielema's stance to be hypocritical in the sense that he complained about Meyer taking recruits last year, applauded Mauti crying about Illinois going to Penn State, and then played a role in getting Gibbs to de-commit from us this year?



Matt Daniels wrote on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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Hi Tony-

I haven't heard or seen anything about negative recruiting against Illinois, although that definitely does not mean it isn't being done. College football coaches are competitive people who know they must win in order to keep their jobs. I'm sure it doesn't help Illinois' recruiting efforts given the team's 2-8 record this year and the way the team has lost some of their games, but I can't give you any specific examples of negative recruiting used against Illinois.

Brett Bielema has won at a high rate at Wisconsin. He's ruffled a few feathers along the way, as any successful coach in college sports has done. I'm not too sure how big of a role he played in Kenton Gibbs, a defensive tackle from Cass Tech High School in Detroit, de-committing from Illinois. There's usually multiple factors that play a part in having players switch their committments.

Brian Kildo wrote on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm


What do you expect the FB recruiting class to look like when they sign next year? Specifically, how many will it include (how many early enrollees will we have , and what is the max number given how many can count against last year?)

Do you expect any defections in addition to Gibbs and Spearman who are wavering? And should we expect any late surprises that Zook was famous for, like Green , Jon Davis, etc?



Matt Daniels wrote on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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Hi Brian-

I'm not sure on the exact number of early enrollees Illinois will have (the only one I know for sure is Dillan Cazley out of Charleston High School, but I will look into that and try to find out). I'd expect the final number for the football squad's Class of 2013 to be in the mid-20s, possibly even higher than 25. With Zane Petty's committment on Thursday night, that bumps it up to 20 so far, depending on what you want to think about Reggie Spearman, the linebacker from Chicago Simeon.

Spearman committed in early August, but said all along in his recruiting that he would still take official visits during the fall, which is what he has done. He still could land at Illinois, along with Gibbs. You're never quite sure until national signing day and the recruit puts his pen to the letter of intent.

As far as late surprises, I'd keep an eye on two Kentucky prep football players in running back/wide receiver Ryan Timmons and running back Dalyn Dawkins. Both have attracted Illinois interest, along with offers from schools in the Big East and Big Ten. They're both skilled playmakers on teams still alive in the playoffs, and could wait until just before signing day to make a decision.

kehrenh wrote on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Groce seems to be doing a great job so far.  Do you think he is capable of making the Illini a perennial top fifteen program like most of us Illini faithful think they should be?  Thanks.

Matt Daniels wrote on November 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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Hi kehrenh -

You're right in the fact the early returns on John Groce and his work with the Illinois men's basketball program are positive. Two relatively easy wins against inferior opponents and landing five high school seniors for the Class of 2013 in a seven-month window are certainly keeping the Illinois fans happy for now.

I don't think Mike Thomas would have hired Groce if he didn't think Groce could turn Illinois into a top 10 or top 15 program year in and year out. Groce seems to have the people skills and coaching acumen to thrive, but of course, it's early during his tenure at Illinois. No need to build a statue or name a street after him just yet. How Illinois does in its trip to Hawaii will go a long way in building the positive energy Groce has created so far.

While I don't expect Illinois to finish in the Top 25 this season (if they do, I like my crow seasoned with a bit of barbecue sauce), I do think the program is in a better place than it was under Bruce Weber a year ago. Groce has put Illinois back in the conversation on a national scene with his first recruiting class and can continue to keep Illinois there with sustained success on the floor. 

Matt Daniels wrote on November 16, 2012 at 2:11 pm
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Going to wrap up the chat for this week. Thanks for the wide range of questions. Have a good weekend everyone!