Feb. 22 recruiting chat

Feb. 22 recruiting chat

Friday, February 22, 2013 - 1:00pm

Who's Leron Black and is he really considering Illinois? Has the 2014 scholarship situation changed? What's up with football? Ask recruiting blogger Matt Daniels, who is chatting at 1 p.m. Friday. Submit questions any time.

Matt Daniels wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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Greetings on this Friday afternoon. Matt Daniels here for the next hour. Hope everyone was able to make it home safely around these parts last night. Nasty weather at times, but the snow is out of here (for now) and melting.

Enough weather talk. I'm tackling any recruiting related questions you can throw at me until 2 p.m. Let's get it going.

larry harnly wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

do you think john groce ever would pull a scholarship from one of the three deep reserves (shaw, langord, djimde) if they choose to remain and not transfer?

Matt Daniels wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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Hey larry,

If I were a betting man (which I'm not), I'd have to say that would be the last option Groce would consider. If, and this is still an if as Groce nor any of the players have indicated or made any public statements regarding the matter, it does wind up that a few of the underclassmen on this squad aren't on next year's team, that would be the final scenario.

Groce and his staff would most likely try to find another school for the players where it's a better fit and they would receive more playing time. Any player who winds up on a Division I squad in a high-major conference like the Big Ten doesn't come just to sit on the bench. They want to play. Mostly right away. The possibility is there for Shaw and Langford to make contributions in the future if they stick around and if the coaches feel they are making progress.

The process will play out in the spring after the season has concluded, and Groce and his staff begin offseason evaluations. They know the direction they want their program to go better than anyone, and I'm sure they already have plans in mind for how they want future rosters to look.

dennis bialas wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

With the FB staff complete, and a full year under Beckman's belt, will these guys have an easier time connecting with HS programs in our state? Will they be able to get their message across to stay home and play? Seems like we lost out on some good in-state players especially the last two years. Also where are the recruiting areas the new coaches are strong in? Who and how will they recruit Chicago and its surounding area?

Matt Daniels wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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Hey Dennis,

Recruiting is all about building relationships. Which come with time. The year-plus Tim Beckman has been at Illinois should help foster those relationships even more in regards to the Class of 2014 and future classes at Illinois. That said, it's always easier to sell a recruit when the wins are there. Another 2-10 season like the one Illinois just slogged through, and the recruiting pitch becomes even harder.

There's always going to be in-state players who are high-caliber who are going to leave the state and choose to play college football elsewhere. The key for Beckman and his staff is limiting those numbers the best they can while securing one or two of the marquee names. The marquee name in the Class of 2013 is Aaron Bailey, the quarterback from Bolingbrook, but the class would have looked a lot nicer on paper if Illinois was able to land a player like a Laquon Treadwell or a Ty Isaac. Getting one or two of those five-star, in-state recruits who decide to go elsewhere would quiet down those talks. At least for a little while.

New offensive coordinator Bill Cubit is known to have strong ties in Florida, especially the southern part of the state with Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other cities in that region. Jim Bridge, the new offensive line coach, and Marcus Berry, the new director of player personnel, have spent the past few seasons in ACC country at North Carolina State and North Carolina, respectively, so don't be surprised to see Illinois have more of a presence in those areas.

Mike Bellamy, the new wide receivers coach, has ties to Atlanta and other parts of the South, along with the Chicago suburbs.

Beckman said at his press conference on National Signing Day that he and his staff consider Chicago and its surrounding suburbs like it is a separate state, and that every coach on his staff works the areas up in the suburbs and the city. We'll see how much that might pay off in the Class of 2014, but it may not be all that different from what we saw out of that region this year.


Don Kong wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Hate to see kids transfer out but it sure looks bleak for the end of the bench with so many new studs coming in.  What are your thoughts?

And a bonus question... if allowed..... who amongst the incoming recruits will likely make the most impact next year?  (I'm thinking Hill or Nunn)



Matt Daniels wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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Hey Don Kong,

Bonus questions are allowed. Feel free to ask as many as you want. The more, the merrier.

I don't think all the current underlcassmen who are on Illinois' roster will be back on the squad next season. The Class of 2014 is essentially done for Illinois at this point, with Michael Finke's  commitment in mid-December sealing up the lone scholarship Groce and his staff had to work with at this point. Plus, the fact Groce continues to check out Class of 2014 players and Class of 2013 players would indicate that he isn't quite done bringing in potential new players. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to read between the lines.

With the incoming recruits most likely to make an immediate impact in the 2013-14 season, Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn are probably two safe bets. Hill is positioning himself to make a run at Mr. Basketball while Nunn is so versatile and can contribute in many ways for a loaded Chicago Simeon squad. The one player who intrigues me the most in the Class of 2013 is Austin Colbert. The Virginia native who is finishing out his high school career in New Jersey has size and athleticism that has been evident in his limited senior season (he had to sit out 30 days according to New Jersey state transfer rules). How his shooting and skills away from the basket pan out will be key in watching his development.

StudentIllini wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I continue to hear that John Groce is a great recruiter but where is the evidence? Do you know what he preaches to recruits? Education, playing time, atmosphere, etc.? Hoping for a few surprises in Class of 2014 and big things out of Class of 2015!

Matt Daniels wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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Hey StudentIllini,

Well, his Class of 2013 was ranked among the top 25 by several recruiting services, if that's any indication of his recruiting ability. I think it says volumes about him because in the first six months after he was hired, he was able to bring in Sam McLaurin and Rayvonte Rice through transfers, secure Malcolm Hill's commitment after the Belleville East product originally committed to Bruce Weber, land a solid combo guard in Chicago Simeon's Kendrick Nunn after Nunn took his first official visit of five he had planned, firm up some post help by landing 6-11 big man Maverick Morgan from Springboro, Ohio, and then in early October, after missing on a coveted point guard like Demetrius Jackson (who will play in the McDonald's All-American game by the way), picked up a point guard commit in Jaylon Tate. While regarded more ho-hum at the time, Tate has shown he has the skills to lead a national powerhouse like Chicago Simeon this season. Tate most likely won't overwhelm one's senses with points, but his vision and defense are two solid qualities to have.

And then he brought in Austin Colbert, a player who visited in late September before making a commitment to Illinois shortly before National Signing Day in November, a bit of news many people who follow Illinois didn't necessarily foresee happening.

Groce wants players who clearly want to play at Illinois. Hence, why he was able to gain a commitment from Champaign Centennial's Michael Finke, a promising 6-9 forward who has a soft outside shooting touch and an ever-improving post game.

The Class of 2014 could contain some surprises, especially since no scholarships are currently available, and the Class of 2015 will be one that is heavily scrutinized by Illinois fans since he will have six available scholarships to hand out.

ChrisNMattoon wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Is Groce gonna land a big fish anytime soon or are we going to have to be patient and wait a few years until he's had adequate time to fully recruit a player from start to finish?  Also, which Freshman next year most likely to start?

Matt Daniels wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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Hey ChrisNMattoon,

Those coveted, five-star recruits that every program in the nation wants takes time to build a relationship. If John Groce were at Illinois, say, for Jabari Parker's freshman season at Chicago Simeon or the freshmen seasons for Chicago Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor and Chicago Curie's Cliff Alexander, the chances are better Illinois could land a player of that caliber, although I hear Illinois is still in decent position with Alexander, who has Michigan State high on his list.

I wouldn't be shocked if Groce and his staff are able to reel in a big-time player in the Class of 2014 given some scholarships open up. Illinois plays an aggressive style that is appealing to high school players today, and Groce isn't afraid to coach his players. He seems to be able to balance that tough love approach with the patient side of it. The competitive nature Groce has is evident watching him on the sidelines, and his genuine approach can go a long way towards landing a program-changing player like Bill Self was able to do with Dee Brown more than a decade ago.

As far as freshmen next year, I'd think Malcolm Hill could find his way in the starting lineup possibly, and maybe Kendrick Nunn. It's all speculation at this point because you're not sure what flaws they have in their game now that Groce and his staff will work on improving, plus how they adjust to the rigors of playing Division I basketball.

illiniwood12 wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

can you tell me who leron black is and if illini have a shot at landing him, given we have a scholarship available?

Matt Daniels wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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Hey illiniwood12,

Sure, no problem. Leron Black is a 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward who plays for White Station High School in Memphis, Tenn. John Groce went to check him out in person earlier this week. Rivals.com lists Black as a five-star recruit, who is gaining considerable Internet prestige and Twitter mentions since he de-committed from Baylor. Black is a junior, so he would factor into the Class of 2014, given, like you said, that Illinois has a scholarship.

I'd say it's a good thing for Illinois that Groce went to see him in person. Groce isn't afraid to go after any player that is available, and Black fits that criteria right now.

Matt Daniels wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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Going to wrap up this weekly chat for now. Thanks for all the questions. I'll be back at the same time and same day next week. Have a great weekend.