Jan. 25 recruiting chat

Jan. 25 recruiting chat

Friday, January 25, 2013 - 1:00pm

Guess who's coming to the Michigan game on Sunday? Think Illinois has a chance to land him? Our recruiting blogger, Matt Daniels, is chatting at 1 p.m. Friday. Submit questions any time.

Matt Daniels wrote on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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Welcome to another Friday afternoon recruiting chat. Big weekend for Illinois football and basketball on the recruiting scene. It's Junior Day tomorrow for the football program as nearly 200 high school juniors will make their way onto campus while Sunday, one of the top point guards in the Class of 2014, JaQuan Lyle from Evansville, Ind., will stop by to take in the Michigan-Illinois game on an unofficial visit.

We've got a few questions lined up, so let's get started.

Mitch wrote on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm

With Illinois having so many scholarships for the class of 2015 in mens basketball, who are the Illini recruiting the hardest? I know they are recruiting Charles Matthews, D.J. Williams and Jalen Brunson. Who else are they recruiting hard for the class of 2015?

Matt Daniels wrote on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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Hey Mitch,

The three in-state players you mentioned are priorties for Illinois in the Class of 2015, especially since Illinois should have six scholarships available for that class.

Aside from Matthews (a Chicago St. Rita product), Williams (Chicago Simeon) and Brunson (Stevenson), other players in the Class of 2015 that would be solid, if not superb pickups for Illinois if they can continue to develop, are Hyron Edwarrds, a point guard from East Chicago Central (Ind.) High School and power forward Carlton Bragg from Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Ohio) High School outside Cleveland. Both have had impressive games at various points this season so far, but Illinois will have to contend with fellow Big Ten schools like Indiana and Purdue with Edwards, while much of the Midwest is interested in Bragg, which should only increase.

I'd add in sophomores like forward Elijah Thomas from Prime Prep Academy in Texas, along with a quartet of guards from the Chicago suburbs in Glynn Watson and Jordan Ash from Westchester St. Joseph, Prentiss Nixon from Bolingbrook and Roosevelt Smart from Palatine.

Hope that helps.

Illini1973 wrote on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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OK, let's say Lyle wants to verbal Saturday night.  1. Could he w/o a schollie being available?  2.  If he can, what would Groce have to do and when? 

Matt Daniels wrote on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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Hey Illini 1973,

Well, if JaQuan Lyle from Evansville Bosse (Ind.) High School does commit on Saturday night, I'd be stunned. It seems this visit is mainly to just watch the Michigan-Illinois game. He's supposed to come into town a few hours before the game on Sunday with some family friends. This will either be his third or fourth visit to the campus in the last year, which is a good sign if you're looking for a glass half-full explanation.

I would be stunned if Lyle gave a verbal commitment this weekend. All indications are he wants to sift through the schools that are interested in him, narrow it down to five schools and by the time the fall arrives, take an official visit to each five. The next barrier for Illinois to clear is to make it into Lyle's top five. As we saw last September with Kendrick Nunn, he had five official visits lined up. His first one was to Illinois. He committed that weekend.

As far as the scholarship situation, I'm not totally sure. If he did decide to verbal to Illinois even with the scholarship situation the way it is, that would possibly put the program in an awkward position because they have no scholarships right now to offer him. Which would mean one of the current players would have to leave. If you can get a player like Lyle to commit even without any available scholarships, I'm sure Groce and his staff would find a way to make it work. That's the key word when it comes to any possible Class of 2014 players wanting to come to Illinois. They would find a way to make it work.

Josh B. wrote on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm

First How Are You Doing? Hopefully Great! Now whats is Illinois take on recruiting near Champaign now since new coaches have arrived football and basketball I Know basketball is having success in Chicago but what about the Central Illinois Area besides Finke what about Denzel Smith from Danville watch the kid out up 39pts on Central and almost 30 on Centennial I think he derserves some looks plus he's only a Junior and also Donte Ingram of Simeon/ Ex Danville High..I know he attended midnight madness is any of them on the radar to be part of the fighting illini the winter 2014? And for football is Trent Sherfield on Illinois Radar because if he is not he is definitely on Ohio St, Iowa,Purdues....Let try to keep our hometown kids in our hometown

Matt Daniels wrote on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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Hey Josh B.,

I'm doing swell. Thanks for asking.

It depends who you ask whether Illinois has done well in Central Illinois as far as basketball recruiting. There are two players in the Class of 2014 within an hour of Champaign-Urbana (Michael Finke and Keita Bates-Diop) who are considered the best college prospects. Obviously Finke chose Illinois, which came a few weeks after Normal University High's Bates-Diop picked Ohio State. 

I think right away Bates-Diop could help a program his freshman year, possibly crack the starting lineup. He's multi-talented, pus he has the skills of a guard with a size factor (6-8 with a 7-3 wingspan) that should benefit him. Finke can shoot. Plus, he wants to go to Illinois. That's a big push from head coach John Groce is wanting to get players who want to play for Illinois. Bates-Diop obviously didn't, which in a convoluted way, helped Illinois land Finke since Bates-Diop made his decision before Thanksgiving.

As far as an other Central Illinois players in the Class of 2014 coming to Illinois, I'd say it's a long shot. The scholarship numbers just aren't there. Maybe a kid might come as a walk-on, but that's the only way I would see something like that happening.

Trent Sherfield is a gifted football player, both at quarterback and in the defensive backfield, for Danville High School who is starting to generate some interest from Big Ten schools (Ohio State and Purdue) along with in-state FCS schools like Eastern Illinois and Illinois State. How he performs at any offseason workouts or summer camps he attends this summer could go a long way towards elevating his recruitment.

dennis bialas wrote on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Now that we have lost a couple of FB commits do you feel we will possibly lose a few more? How many FB players can you have on scholarship at one time? How many will we take in this class? Will you print a list on the visitors for Junior Day? What positions will be in need for the class of 2014? Any chance of early commits that you know of?

Matt Daniels wrote on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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Hey Dennis,

Always good to hear from you.

Illinois football has had a few players who initially gave a verbal commitment to Illinois (Kenton Gibbs, Reon Dawson and Joshua Jones) since go back on their word, with Dawson and Jones deciding this month. That put the staff in a bit of a bind, but they did nicely to recover by adding two defensive back commits in James Crawford and Jaylen Dunlap in the last week. While they might not have had the high school careers Dawson and Jones did, they're still solid players who come from two schools that won state championships last season.

Each Division I football program is allowed to have 85 players on scholarship, with 25 given to incoming junior college players or freshmen. This year's class is up to 26 commits so far (10 are already on campus, so it's more like 16 commits now), but the reason they can go above the 25 limit is because they didn't fill all of their scholarships last year, only signing 19 players in that class.

If I had a full list of the junior day visitors, I would. Unfortunately I don't. Sorry I couldn't help you out there.

As far as positions of need in the Class of 2014, I'd say defensive end, linebackers and wide receivers. I wouldn't be surprised if one or two quarterbacks is brought in the mix with the next class as well, especially with new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit on board and a chance for him to pick out quarterbacks he would want to run his offense.

gail moore wrote on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Do you feel that Jaquan Lyle has a genuine interest in becoming an Illini or is he just a pipe dream for us? I would really like to see us get some genuinely great players that actually want to play for us.

Matt Daniels wrote on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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Hey Gail,

I'd say it's somewhere in the middle of a pipe dream and genuine interest. I think it bodes well for Illinois at this point that he is even interested in the program and is coming to a game, but I'm not saying he'll give John Groce a verbal commitment this weekend, especially since Illinois doesn't have any available scholarships to give right now.

The next key test for Illinois is to see if it makes his top five list of schools once he narrows that down, which is likely to come this summer at some point. Of course, with the volatile nature of recruiting, those plans could always change.

I know with the only commit Illinois has so far in the Class of 2014, Michael Finke from Champaign Centennial, he genuinely wants to play for Illinois and has put up impressive numers all season long. Same holds true for the five signees Groce has in the Class of 2013. Austin Colbert returned to play last Saturday, and in his second game on Tuesday, had 16 points and 11 rebounds. What will be interesting to see play out is if Illinois can, 1) make the NCAA Tournament this year, which would be a boon to recruiting, and 2) make some of the top-flight players from the Class of 2015, especially with the available scholarships Illinois will have for that class, decide they want to come to Champaign-Urbana.

BRucks wrote on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Why not offer Cameron Mammen?

Matt Daniels wrote on January 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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Hey BRucks,

Sorry for the delay in responding. Had to take a call.

Good question. Mammen, the Urbana (Ill.) High School quarterback who rewrote many offensive records while leading the Tigers to their first-ever playoff win, wanted to go to Illinois. He's been an Illinois fan since grade school.

It just came down to a numbers/money situation. Illinois wanted him to come as a preferred walk-on. Paying for college is by no means cheap, so the family decided they would look elsewhere where he can get a scholarship. What will be interesting to see play out wherever Mammen does wind up is what position he'll play in college. If he would have went to Illinois, he would have most likely been a wide receiver or defensive back. If he goes to a smaller school, say I-AA (sorry, FCS) or D-II route, he could still play quarterback.


Matt Daniels wrote on January 25, 2013 at 2:01 pm
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That looks like a wrap on this week's chat. Thanks for the questions. I'll be back at 1 p.m. next Friday to tackle more recruiting topics, plus I'll have some insight from Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network on the Class of 2013 football class Tim Beckman has assembled next week.

Have a great weekend!