Any leftover questions from Signing Day. Matt Daniels has your answers. Our recruiting blogger chats at 1 p.m. Fridays. Submit questions of any kind at any time.
So I'm going to go out on a limb and assume there's a number of happy Illinois fans today after last night's thrilling 74-72 win against Indiana.
Matt Daniels here for the next hour taking any recruiting questions you all might have. Feel free to submit them anytime. Let's get started
Matt, Who are the point guards in the classes of 2014, 2015 and 2016 that coach Groce is recruiting? In the fast paced offense he wants to play he really needs a great point guard. i hope he gets one soon!!!! Thank you very much for these chats!
Good question. Illinois is in the mix with Class of 2014 guards like JaQuan Lyle from Evansville Bosse (Ind.) High School and Larry Austin Jr., from Springfield Lanphier High School. One of the top point guards in the state in the Class of 2014, Tyler Ulis from Marian Catholic in Chicago Heights, is drawing Division I interest, but it doesn't appear Illinois is as high on the 5-9 guard as other schools are.
With the Class of 2015, Jalen Brunson from Stevenson High School in the northern suburbs of Chicago has an Illinois offer and some good basketball bloodlines. His father is Rick Brunson, fromer Temple star who played in the NBA. Hyron Edwards from East Chicago, Ind., is another one on John Groce's radar.
As far as the Class of 2016, haven't heard about too many high school freshmen yet, but I'm sure they are out there. And I'm sure Groce and company are keeping tabs on developing 14-year-olds.
A player like Indiana's Yogi Ferrell is a good indication of the type of point guard Groce might want to bring into Illinois. He had a steady game last night while Tracy Abrams struggled a bit. Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson consistently attacked off the dribble last night, key parts in the Illini upset, but both will be gone next season. Illinois will get some help next year with Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn from Chicago Simeon coming in, but a bonafide point guard is a priority for Illinois moving forward
Just read that Billy G. has decided to leave the program. Were is he going? Was Coach Beckman aware the he was moving on? Were the incoming recruits ar WR made aware of this change?
That's correct. Billy Gonzales is leaving Illinois as an assistant coach. Sources tell me he might wind up at one of three places: Mississippi, Mississippi State or Utah.
I'm pretty sure Tim Beckman had a feeling he might lose him. Head coaches are in control of the whole program, top to bottom, so any time an assistant leaves, the head coach probably finds out about it before reading it in the paper.
Not sure about if the incoming wide receiver recruits were made aware of the move. Gonzales made some inroads recruiting in Florida and was the lead recruiter on Peoria Richwoods running back Kendrick Foster. New offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has strong ties to the South Florida area Illinois was able to crack a bit with the Class of 2013. I'd expect Florida to be an area Illinois will try to continue to tap, even with Gonzales' departure. It's fertile ground for some great prep football players.
How bad does it look to a possible recruit to turn on last nites game on espn and sit there and look at all the empty seats in the place when the No.1 team in the country is playing in your house? For those season ticket holders that choose not to go to the game give your tickets to a charity or schools and fill those seats! I'm totally embarrassed as I'm sure the university is.
I was at the game, so not quite sure what the TV cameras might have captured behind the Illinois bench. Being there, it was a late-arriving crowd, but by tip, the place was nearly full. I think I read on Twitter where someone said they counted maybe 90 seats in A section that were empty. To me, that's not bad considering the struggles Illinois has had since January. Not many people would have thought Illinois would stun Indiana the way it did last night.
I think the potential recruits are more concerned with the end result, plus the national love Illinois is getting today from its win. This is a victory John Groce and his staff can build on. Recruiting, like last night's late run by Illinois, is often predicated on momentum. All Groce and his staff have to say to recruits is to turn on SportsCenter today and see where Illinois is at. A few empty seats shouldn't deter future recruits. By the end of the game, the Assembly Hall was deafening.
How does the process of players going to a new school because their current school doesn't offer a graduate program work? Is there a list of players and degrees they are pursuing published or do they just submit an application to a school? Curious, because we could definately use a veteran big man and point guard next year. How dominant could Egwu be playing PF instead of Center if we were able to get a transfer big man?
Hey Ryan P,
Good specific question. It has helped Illinois the last two years in getting Sam Maniscalco and Sam McLaurin to campus. Side note: McLaurin had a solid, solid game last night. His first basket in the second half stemmed Indiana from a key run, plus his pass to D.J. Richardson for a corner 3 and his ability to free people with screens was beneficial for Illinois.
Back to your question. To my understanding, the players are the ones that will take an active role in possibly transferring after their undergraduate degrees are done. First, they have to decide if they want to continue their basketball career. Then finding a school that they will get accepted into and that the basketball program would want to take in are the next steps.
My guess is the players are the ones who do the bulk of the research in terms of where a good fit might be.
As far as next year, not too sure if Illinois would land a fifth-year transfer again just because of the lack of scholarships available unless, key word is unless, a current underclassmen on the team decides to transfer.
Egwu is a big man who continues to develop at an impressive rate. With the way John Groce has his Illinois team playing, the power forward/center distinction isn't that great. Egwu has shown improved range on his jump shot, which will make him tougher to defend in the future. He just has to stay away from foul trouble, which was a problem for him in last night's win against Indiana.
Any chance of landing a big man to give us an inside presence and more physicality on the boards?
Illinois will have two incoming freshmen in Austin Colbert from Gill St. Bernard's in New Jersey and Maverick Morgan from Springboro, Ohio, who would possibly help inside next season. They're both putting up big numbers this winter in their senior season. Morgan is the same height as Nnanna Egwu, with a bit more bulk on him right now. Colbert might remind Illinois fans of a player like Mike Davis, except without the dependability of an outside shot at this stage in his career.
Michael Finke, a junior from Champaign Centennial, will arrive with the Class of 2014. He's 6-9 right now (grown two inches since last year) and has a sweet-looking outside shot. He could become the next Tyler Griffey, although some comparisons of him link him with a taller version of Robbie Hummel. Finke is a kid that John Groce wants out of his recruits. Finke wants to play at Illinois. It was his first choice and a high priority, plus the kid has improved dramatically from where he was at last season, and will most likely do so before he arrives at Illinois.
Aside from those three, there's always the scant possibility Illinois could have a few scholarships open up with the Class of 2014 and land one of the two premier Chicago big men (Jahlil Okafor of Whitney Young and Cliff Alexander of Curie), but that doesn't seem very likely at this point.
Read some quotes in the Chicago papers from Lemming and Hemholdt praising Beckman and his staff. Stuff like he's doing it right, it takes four classes, and they are the hardest working recruiters in the Big Ten. High praise from these recruiting gurus. Maybe we should lay off these guys for a while. The article also said we should be able to do better in the St. Louis,Indianapolis, and Detroit areas. Do you think we can make a bigger impact in the Chicago area next year? Will the Illini staff be better received after one year by the HS coaches? What positions are a must for 2014 and who are some of the targets?
When I talked to Tom Lemming about 10 days before National Signing Day, he had similar praise for Tim Beckman and his staff. I think the fans have every right to be upset and disappointed after a 2-10 season, and Beckman understands that as well.
We'll start to see if Illinois can make an impact in those metro areas by who starts committing to Illinois in the Class of 2014. Recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh said Illinois still might go after junior college players in the future. It seems the staff has developed a solid pipeline with Iowa Western Community College (last year's junior college national champions), so don't be surprised if Illinois lands maybe 2-3 JUCO players next year. But that also might depend how the current JUCO players pan out during the 2013 season.
You'd have to think the Illinois staff would be better received by high school coaches in the state, which I think they've done a key job in making inroads in that department. But it's always easier to land high-quality players if you're team wins. It's hard to sell a potential 5-star recruit to come to your school after you go 2-10 and have a history of mediocrity like Illinois football. Those are just the facts.
As far as priorities for the Class of 2014, linebackers would be an area where Illinois will probably want to land between 2-3 players with that positional group. Clifton Garrett of Plainfield South and Nyles Morgan of Crete-Monee are two top in-state juniors who would be a huge get for Illinois. But Illinois will have to deal with a multitude of suitors with those two.
Transfers have become a big part of todays game... Do you see anyone on this team transfering like IBBY? Do you see any transfers that might come in?
Hey I L L,
Transfers have become a huge part of college basketball. Which lends one to think, if coaches can leave programs and not face a one-year ban on coaching, what about the players? I wouldn't be surprised if somehow that rule gets revised in the next 10 years or so, which could then really open the floodgates of transfers even more.
With this Illinois team, and with the lack of scholarships available for a talented Class of 2014 and some holes Illinois will have to fill after the graduation of Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and others, yes, the possibility of current underclassmen transferring shouldn't be discounted.
That said, I don't have any inside information about potential transfers. The players that aren't playing right now might develop next season into key contributors for Illinois. They might not and want to transfer. Those pieces will fall into place in the next 2-3 months.
As far as possible transfers coming in, not right now, but that might change after the season if there's any roster shakeups.
Matt, during your signing day chat, an "Anonymous User" said: "So, Mr. Daniels tosses Spearman under the bus simply because he changed his mind. Not nice.Less cheerleading, more reporting." I just wanted to say to you that this "anonymous" comment was ridiculous. You are doing a great job with lots of detailed reported and providing lots of objective details on the recruiting scene. Same is true of your specific comments about Reggie Spearman. I think your coverage has been solid and hardly cheerleading. There is a well known poster on these boards who constantly posts about "cheerleading" and throwing people under buses. That poster has little credibility because he has some kind of odd vendetta against the News-Gazette.
Now my question. It is about basketball. What happened to Jalen James, the guard Bruce Weber got a committment from last year when Bruce was still at Illinois. He was a guard. Groce then did not pursue the guy, and he didn't go to K-State either.
Hey Fan of the O&B,
Thanks for reading our signing day chat. Was a lot of fun to do, especially with the experience and expertise that Bob Asmussen brings to the table. We try to bring objective reporting each and every day at The News-Gazette. Others may not see that. They can voice their opinion however they want. Wasn't the first time someone hasn't liked what I've written. Most certainly won't be the last. Just part of the gig.
On to your question. Jalen James is still unsigned. Might be a decision for April. Schools like Rhode Island, Providence and Western Kentucky are in on him the most. James is a talented ball-handler who doesn't mind playing at a fast tempo. But Groce didn't feel like it would be the best fit for the Chicago youngster, who will most likely play at a Division I school. Just not Illinois.
Thanks for the response. Second question, do you believe Coach Groce thinks this team next year with only a foul prone Egwu and freshman Morgan at the PF and C positions can compete in the big ten? Next year's team will really be hard pressed to beat anyone with any kind of talent on the front line. As a follow up, can coaches recruit players on other teams during the season to fill a 5th year graduate position?
The frontcourt will be an area that going into next season will definitely be an area to watch. If Egwu can continue to improve his offensive game while avoiding fouls, he could find himself becoming a double-double threat nearly every game. I think Illinois will have to play at even a quicker tempo next season to make up for its lack of proven post players along with integrating several new guards/wings into the mix. The 2013-14 Illinois team will be a different version than this year's team, especially heading into the season because proven scorers like Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson won't be there.
I'm not entirely sure about the fifth-year players aspect. Obviously, college basketball coaches are in tune with the on-going developments of what's going on in their sport. I think that's especially true with John Groce and his staff. These guys love basketball, whether it's watching games, recruiting players, coaching players in practice or games or just talking the game with fans. Their passion is evident.
Thanks for the bevy of questions today, both football and basketball-related. Ending this week's chat, but it's only about 167 hours until next week's chat begins at 1 p.m. next Friday.
Thanks for checking in and enjoy your upcoming weekend!