No one knows blue-chippers like Matt Daniels. Ask HQ's recruiting blogger about Michael Finke's stock, the Illini's scholarship grid or anything else that comes to mind. He's chatting at 1 p.m. Friday but submit questions any time.
Welcome everyone to another Friday afternoon recruiting chat. I'm Matt Daniels, and I'll be here for the next hour or so getting to as many recruiting questions as I can.
Let the fun begin.
How interested are the Illini coaches in Tyus Jones?
Tyus Jones is considered one of the top point guards in the Class of 2014. Think of a top Division I basketball program and chances are the native of Apple Valley, Minn., has an offer from them or at least interest. Kentucky, Kansas, Ohio State and others have already reached out to him and made an offer. Illinois has not yet, but it's a safe bet that John Groce and his staff are aware of Jones, especially with recent reports out that Chicago Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor and Jones might consider playing together in college, even if it's only for one season.
With Okafor not ruling out Illinois and playing coy with his recruitment so far, I'd imagine the interest Illinois has would grow if Okafor starts to consider Illinois more heavily. We'll just have to wait and see.
Hi Matt,According to Scout and ESPN, the following players the Illini have offered or have an interest in, is in the Top 25 for the Class of 2015: Charles Matthews (Scout/ESPN), Elijah Thomas (Scout/ESPN), Hyron Edwards (ESPN), D.J. Williams (ESPN), Montaque Gill Caesar (Scout), Jalen Coleman (Scout) and Carlton Bragg (Scout).My questions are:1) Does Illinois have a shot at landing a monster class for 2015 (and beat Kentucky while their at it, lol)?2) Who (for now) is realistic from this group to commit to Illinois?3) By my calculation, it looks like Illinois will have seven spots available for 2015, am I right?What is interesting about this group of players, is that only two are from the State of Illinois. I just love how John Groce and his staff is trying to recruit nationally.
I know it my be early to ask these questions, but history shows John Groce is great at recruiting, so with him getting in early of some of these 5-star and high 4-star players, I'm a little excited about the future of Fighting Illini basketball.
Thanks for the chats.
It's too early to tell what may transpire with the Class of 2015, but those players do have offers from Illinois. Never too early to speculate, though, which makes recruiting so intriguing and perplexing at the same time.
Illinois should have a number of scholarships available for the Class of 2015, but I'll look into an exact number and try to get back to you.
Groce has shown he isn't afraid to go out of the state of Illinois in an effort to lure players in. Austin Colbert from New Jersey and Maverick Morgan from Ohio are two signees in the Class of 2013 that he lured in from out of state. I'd expect that trend to continue, although not necessarily with the Class of 2014. The state is loaded with prospects who should land at plenty of D-I schools in the future.
Hey Matt, thanks for taking our questions today, I have a couple for you:
Do you feel the Juco recruits will have a negative impact on high school recruits? If I'm a high school senior expecting that I could get playing time as a freshman/sophomore, then they bring in a goup of Juco guys, I might think twice. It seems like a bit of a knee jerk reaction to go that route. Don't get me wrong, I know we have some gaping holes to fill and Beckman needs to win next year to keep his job, but it's seems like we could be missing the bigger picture.
My other question is about coaches in general, do you think that expecations to win are out of balance with reality? You have guys 2 years removed from a national title getting canned, maybe there was more of a scandal going on there, but the coaches out there have to sweat it out every year, can't be easy or condusive to building a program when you're always looking over your shoulder.
Thanks again for taking the time to answer our questions!
Thanks for asking the questions. You bring up an interesting point in regards to the JUCO commits Illinois has landed recently and how that's seen by high school seniors. I would not be surprised if the remaining spots Illinois has available for the Class of 2013 are filled by junior college players, especially along the offensive line. That's one position where JUCO players could come in right away and vie for playing time. It's almost unheard of for a true freshman to come in and start on the offensive line. If they do, usually that's not a good sign.
I can understand why the Illinois staff would want to go the JUCO route. With college coaches seemingly on shorter hooks each and every year, it's a safer way to go by bringing in players who they feel can start right away. High school seniors may not come in and make an impact in year one. Two more 2-10 seasons by Tim Beckman and his staff, and I don't think many people out there would think he would return for a fourth season.
The big picture in college football, especially at the power conference level, is win now. Not 2-3 years down the road. Now. Whether you think that's right or wrong, that's the world we live in today. Barry Alvarez is regarded as a great coach with what he did at Wisconsin. Guess what his record was in his first season there? 1-10. The pressure on college coaches today is immense, to say the least, but that comes with the territory and large salaries they receive.
Hey, Matt. Two questions: first, does Karl Towns' reclassification to 2014 and subsequent commit to Kentucky enhance the admittedly long shot for Illinois to land Alexander or Okafor in any way? From my view it has always seemed like Illinois has at least an outside chance at Alexander, but pretty much none with Okafor.
Second, in the wake of KBD's commitment to Ohio State, has Illinois made any stronger effort to recruit nationally rated Whitney Young junior forwards L.J. Peak and Paul White? Or was KBD seen as a stretch 4 and Finke is now being recruiting more heavily for that spot?
From a glass half full perspective, Towns' commitment can't do anything but help the chances for Illinois to land Cliff Alexander and Jahlil Okafor, but I think it's still a long shot — at this point in time — that Illinois lands either of the big men out of Chicago.
The staff was already aware of Whitney Young's L.J. Peak and Paul White even before Normal U-High's Keita Bates-Diop chose Ohio State. Bates-Diop should thrive in college on the wing and must add some strength to go inside and play down low in the Big Ten at this point. Michael Finke from Champaign Centennial has seen his stock rise with his increased play so far this season. With his family's ties to Illinois, plus the fact that his high school is 10 minutes away from Assembly Hall, Illinois is after him hard.
Hi Matt -
Can you provide more any details on the 5(?) JUCO commits we have at this point? Do you think any of them are more likely to be impact players than the others? Any other JUCO commits on the horizon?
Thanks for the great information you provide!
Four of the JUCO commits come from the California junior college system for what that's worth. The other, Martize Barr, is from Iowa Western Community College, which just won the NJCAA National Championship. Of the five (Barr, safety Zane Petty, defensive tackle Abens Cajuste, defensive back Eric Finney and defensive end Kyle Kragen), I'd have to think Cajuste would most likely have the biggest impact right away.
He had offers from some pretty solid programs (Kansas State, Arizona State, Rutgers and Baylor, to name a few), plus that's a position where Illinois struggled at this year (I know, I know, some of you probalby think every position was a struggle this season).
With 24 commits already on board, I'd think two or three more JUCO players might be added to the mix in the next few months before signing day arrives in February.
If you had to bet on two 2014 basketball recruits Coach Groce will land, who would you put your money on?
Michael Finke from Champaign Centennial (Ill.) High School is a priority for the current coaching staff. So is Jaquan Lyle from Evansville (Ind.) Bosse High School. I don't usually like doing this because recruiting can change at any minute, but maybe since Christmas is nearing and I'm in a giving mood, I'll go out on a limb and put my money on Illinois landing one of those two.
Of course, the staff is still evaluating the junior class heavily, with continued interest in Springfield Lanphier's Larry Austin Jr., the two big men out of Chicago (Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander), Sean O'Mara from Benet Academy and many more. It's nice to pull in out of state players that will make a difference, but if Illinois doesn't land at least one of the top players in the state for the Class of 2014, that would be a surprise.
I hear ullis is tearing it up and showed up Larry Austin this past weekend. Sounds like a good prospect. Would love to get him what are our chances. Also heard alexander and okafor want to go to college together. Does that make it even harder to land one of them now?
Tyler Ulis from Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights is definitely skilled. He had 24 points in his team's 66-51 win last Saturday at the SportsRadio 1450 Shootout in Springfield against Larry Austin Jr. and Lanphier. That performance might put him more on the radar of John Groce and his staff, but Illinois has some work to do to catch up on Ulis, who is up to 5 feet, 9 inches. His size is a concern for some Illinois fans, but the kid has produced at a high level since last year and should continue to do so the rest of this season and into next.
Cliff Alexander and Jahlil Okafor are long shots — at this point — for Illinois, but that doesn't mean Groce and company have given up any hopes of landing them. Like Ulis, Illinois will have some ground to make up in regards to those two post players out of the Chicago Public League.
Does Groce have a legitimate shot at landing Alexander? He seems to be following the Illini based on his tweets but can't tell how serious he is about U of I.
Hi The Heights,
Winning and the 9-0 start Illinois is currently on has helped spark some interest in recruits Illinois might not be getting attention from if say, the program was 5-4. The up-tempo style Groce has Illinois playing at is an added bonus for top-level prospects, whose stock so often rises based on their play in the summer with their AAU teams. AAU teams, generally speaking, don't run much offense and just let the players get up and down the court to best showcase their individual skills. A style like the one Groce is using at Illinois is appealing to today's high school players.
Michigan State got in early on Cliff Alexander from Chicago Curie, but Illinois is staying involved as best they can right now. That's about all you can ask for, especially for a recruit who already has developed relationships with coaches at schools before a new coaching staff arrives.
Who's buying this, 'We're selling playing time'? I see only 2 and 3 star recruits at best. Is there a surprize 'Davis or Young' we can expect to land? If so, who might that be?
Coming off a 2-10 season, I think what Alex Golesh told me this week is true. If a recruit wants to come in right away, work hard and try to crack the starting lineup, this is a perfect opportunity for that. For whatever reason, the players Illinois had this year did not produce on the field like many expected them to. Plus, if coaches don't emphasize the chance to possibly play early, how could a recruit who might be considering other schools who had much better records than Illinois this season, even think about coming to Illinois?
Another item in regards to the Class of 2013, the number of commits is up to 24, but 18 of those were committed before the season started. Illinois has added two high school seniors (Tyler White and Evan Panfil) since the season started, with the other four commits coming from the junior college ranks.
As far as a surprise late addition to a skill position on offense, a talented wideout would help. Ryan Timmons from Franklin County (Ky.) High School is a possibility, but I'd expect Illinois to try to land one or two more offensive linemen, probably from the JUCO system, in an effort to fill out its Class of 2013.
Matt,I see a lot of attention Cam Mammen is receiving on Illini HQ and from you and others. But still no offer from Illinois. Cam is a local kid who has done every thing expected from him.Over 3,000 combined total yards,selected to 3 All State teams so far,will probably be All Areaa Player of the Year. Chicago Bears Player of the Week in week 3.Big 12 Player of the Year.First Team QB. There have been many players from the area went to Illinois and have been very successful. Last was Mike Leshore now with Detroit Lions. I have coached in the Chicago Suburbs and Florida,now retired. I have had many kids go on to Division 1 Schools. Believe me Cam Mammen Is a Gamer with lots of heart from a great family of Sports Heritage.Some one is going to lose out. I guess the Juco route is better for Illinois since the community just wants to win and now. It takes a new head coach at least 3 to 4 years to get things right.So when people out there wonder why kids with talent go else where you will no why.
All valid and solid points you make. Cameron Mammen certainly had a special high school football career at Urbana (Ill.) High School. Where he'll wind up in college is intriguing to watch. Urbana head coach Nathan Watson said Mammen was the team's best wide receiver (his most likely position at Illinois if he lands there or in the defensive secondary), but he played quarterback instead to best serve the team.
He comes from a prominent athletic family in Urbana and helped the Tigers make history this fall. All indications are he could play quarterback at the I-AA level, but not necessarily the D-I route, particularly in the Big Ten. Then again, people most likely didn't think local Champaign-Urbana players like Mikel Leshoure and J Leman would have the careers they did at Illinois, but they did. It'll be interesting to see it all play out.
Going to wrap up the chat for this week. Thanks for all the various questions today. Feel we covered a lot of ground. Sorry for the questions I didn't get to, but I'll try to hit them at some point next week in one of my blogs.
Have an enjoyable weekend everyone!