April 5 recruiting chat

April 5 recruiting chat

Friday, April 5, 2013 - 1:00pm

Matt Daniels spent quality time with Jabari Parker at the McDonald's All-American Game in Chicago. Ask him if the four-time state champ really considered Illinois. Submit questions of any kind at any time for his 1 p.m. Friday chat.

Matt Daniels wrote on April 05, 2013 at 12:04 pm
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Greetings everyone on this very nice spring Friday afternoon. Matt Daniels here to tackle any recruiting related questions you may have as we're back from a two-week break.

Hard to believe less than two weeks ago Champaign-Urbana was getting pelted with 13 inches of snow. But I digress.

We've got several questions already lined up, so let's get started. Feel free to submit any questions you may have as I'll be here until 2 p.m.


larry harnly wrote on April 05, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Do John Groce and staff members have an airplane at their disposal for long recruiting trips?

Matt Daniels wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm
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Hey Larry,

As far as I know, I believe they do, but I'm not 100 percent certain. I know, for instance, when John Groce spent Valentine's Day recruiting New Mexico College guard Desmond Lee, he flew in and out of Willard that day on a small plane.

I'm sure, given the recruiting reach Groce and his staff have wanted to reach in the past year, that arrangements are made well in advance or on a short notice if Groce and any of his assistants need to make a trip down to Florida, out west or to the East Coast.

Good question to get started on today's chat, and one that I will try to look into in the next week. Hope that helps.

StudentIllini wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Now that Brandon Paul, DJ Richardson, and Tyler Griffey have completed their careers at Illinois, how would you asess their careers based off their class rankings from 2009? Also, how much do coaches weigh into the rankings of sites such as ESPN, Rivals, and more?

Matt Daniels wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm
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Hey StudentIllini,

It's funny, looking back at Rivals' rankings for the Class of 2009, for instance, D.J. Richardson was actually higher-rated (although not by much) than Brandon Paul. Rivals had Richardson as the 38th-best prospect in the country, with Paul in at No. 42. Rivals had Tyler Griffey at No. 120. I would say Paul exceeded Richardson in terms of productivity throughout his career, but Richardson meant so much to Illinois this past season in terms of intangibles that don't often show up in a box score. Plus, you knew he could knock down a three-pointer or two pretty much every game.

The Class of 2009 Bruce Weber signed, which also includes Joseph Bertrand, who checked in at No. 128 nationally, came in 14th nationally. While the end result (two NCAA tournament appearances, two tournament wins) might have not matched that ranking, it's safe to say the Class of 2009 had a solid career and in say, five years from now, might have been the key to making Illinois a respectable program again on the national level.

As far as coaches weighing on rankings of recruiting service websites, I'm not too certain. I believe it's all on the opinion of the analysts with those respected services.

I L L wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm

With 3 Scholarships open and John Ekey most likely taking one of them as a 5th year graduate transfer. What will happen with the other two? I know Aaron Cosby could take one but what other 5th year transfers are we looking at?

P.S. I have heard a lot of talk about Jaye Crockett but per his twitter, when a fan asked if he would transfer to Illinois, he replied with no. So looks like very slim chance that Crockett is a transfer John Groce is looking at.

Matt Daniels wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm
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Hey I L L,

It's not a certainty Illinois State transfer Jon Ekey will wind up at Illinois, but it is a good sign he was on campus this week. We'll have to wait and see if that means a possible transfer to Illinois, although he could fill a void (outside shooting, leadership, height) for next year's team.

I would not be surprised if Illinois doesn't use all three open scholarships for the 2013-14 season in an effort to have one in reserve for the 2014-15 season in hopes of landing one of the premier high school talents they are after. Then again, next year's Illinois team has obvious holes it will need to fill with the loss of Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, Tyler Griffey and Sam McLaurin, along with the three transfers in Ibby Djimde, Devin Langford and Mike Shaw.

Aaron Cosby of Seton Hall, like you mentioned, has it narrowed down to Missouri and Illinois. Josh Davis of Tulane is another possibility, and I'm sure other names will come out in this new phase of recruiting that developed a few years back. It feels like the NFL free agency period, to be honest.

I N I wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I have a scenario for you. I'll use a real life scenario to make my question easier to ask. Mike Shaw just transfered to leave Illinois and is a will be a junior next year. He has transfered to Bradley and will have to redshirt and sit out a year per NCAA rules. So after his redshirt junior year at Bradley is over, he should have finished his degree and have the option to be a 5th year graduate transfer and play imediatly for another school. Could he return to Illinois as a 5th year Graduate transfer? Basically my question is, can a student-athlete transfer away from there original school and then come back to that original school as a graduate 5th year transfer? If this is so, what's to stop an oversigned coach from farming a couple guys out to midmajors and then bringing them back as grad students if they prove worthy?

Matt Daniels wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm
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Hey I N I,

Great question. Haven't given much thought to it until you posed it. I haven't been able to find an answer that would indicate it would not be possible for such a scenario to transpire, although I don't believe I've ever heard of one happening.

I don't think it's real likely the scenario would play out, but then again, who's to say it wouldn't in the next 5-10 years? Recruiting is such a long and thorough, not to mention exhausting process, for most college basketball coaches when they bring in a high school player.

It's all the phone calls, the in-home visits, the miles accumulated going to games and more. I don't think there's many college coaches who spend time reeling in a player to come to their college and then discard them with the hope of getting them back for a possible fifth year.

Anonymous User wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm

What is it about Illinois that is keeping top talent from committing?

Matt Daniels wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm
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Hey Anonymous,

Nothing like a loaded question that has no right answer.

As far as basketball, the deep NCAA tournament runs on a yearly basis, the attractive style of play, the sustained regular season success and the development of future NBA players on a yearly basis are possible answers I'll risk throwing out there without getting ripped.

I think if John Groce can have another 20-plus win season with his 2013-14 team (a team that won't have the experienced talent like this past one had) and make the NCAA tournament, win a few games in March, then the top players that have avoided Illinois (I'm talking the five-star prospects, the McDonald's All-American type guys) in the past decade might start showing up. Of course, it's easier said than done.

With football, I think the answer is pretty simple. Recruits want to see Illinois win. Having a 14-game losing streak in the Big Ten will not get those type of stud players to Champaign-Urbana.

dennis bialas wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm

How has spring FB practice been going so far? Have the coaches liked what they see and the progress of the team? What do you think of the o-line, obviously the key to the offense? Also how has recruiting been going? Do they feel recruits have been more willing to listen, and do you think there ahead of where they were at this time a year ago?

Matt Daniels wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm
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Hey Dennis,

Illinois will have one more week of spring practice leading up to next Friday's spring game at 8 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. A lot of new parts are being worked in (first and foremost a new offensive scheme), so the players are adjusting to that along with several new assistant coaches.

From the offensive side of the ball, what will be interesting to watch is how new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit's offensive style fits in with the players. Watching last Friday's scrimmage up at Gately Stadium, Illinois had Nathan Scheelhaase and Reilly O'Toole under center a lot more than what they were last year. Donovonn Young looked good on a few runs off tackle, and Josh Ferguson showed he is still fast and elusive at times. He needs to stay healthy, though.

The offensive line still needs some work. Although the defense couldn't sack Scheelhaase or O'Toole last week, there were several times O'Toole was scrambling in the pocket, trying to avoid the rush. It's going to be a unit that is young still, but could gel by the time the season opener arrives on Aug. 31. It will be interesting to see how they do next Friday and also what progress they make during the summer and at Camp Rantoul.

Illinois has three commits so far for the Class of 2014, with two coming from the Chicago suburbs, an area Tim Beckman has said he would like to control. I would say it's harder right now for Illinois football to recruit than it was a year ago at this time since the team is coming off a 2-10 season. Then again, the same message Illinois used last year with recruits will be harped to them in the next 4-5 months: come to Illinois and you'll get a chance to work for some playing time while trying to turn the program around. Martize Barr, a JUCO wide receiver, worked with the first team offense last week, and other newcomers like Darius Mosely and Dillan Cazley, defensive backs who graduated from high school early, saw consistent reps last week in a young, inexperienced secondary.

MikeM wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Not a true "recruiting" question since he's already coming here, but tell me if you think this is a good comparison: Malcolm Hill kinda reminds me of Chris Douglas-Roberts. Similarly ranked coming out of high school, similar size at around 6'6", maybe 6'7". Neither is crazy athletic or prolific long-range shooters but simply, as the kids put it, get buckets.


Matt Daniels wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm
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Hey MikeM,

Good comparison, I'd say. CDR certainly got buckets for Memphis and Hill did the same throughout his career at Belleville East, and not all the time in the traditional way.

Based on the current roster Illinois has, chances are Hill will get his chances early on next season to produce. I feel confident saying he will. His progress will be one to watch intently. He certainly was well-regarded around the Metro St. Louis area as one of the top players (rightly so), but it's hard for a high school player in Illinois south of I-80 to get the same notoriety as some of the Chicago players and players from the suburbs.

Hill needs to get stronger before he arrives at Illinois (he knows and understands this), but you can't teach the gifts he has for putting the ball in the basket.

John B Ohio wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm


Thanks for taking our questions today, I have a couple for football I hope you can help with. It seems like Cubit's system puts a point of emphasis on the wide receivers. Can you tell us anything about some legit recruiting targets for that position? I've heard a little about Marshon Lattimore from Cleveland. Also, I know we offered a running back out of Florida but I couldn't find the name and Dre Brown was recently in Champaign. Any news on those two?

Thanks again!

Matt Daniels wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm
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Bill Cubit's system does rely heavily on his wide receivers making plays. When I asked Alex Golesh, the Illinois recruiting coordinator, what the top position group was for the Class of 2014, he said wide receivers. Five times.

Illinois has one on board with the Class of 2014 with the commitment on Wednesday night of Mike Dudek, a receiver who might fit the mold of Kyle Hudson. A slot wide receiver who has speed and toughness to make catches across the middle.

Lattimore, a Cleveland native, is a top target not only for Illinois, but other top-notch programs like Ohio State, Alabama, USC and Michigan, among others. Landing a player like him would be a big-time get for Illinois, but don't count on it. Getting past those programs to land players like Lattimore is a major challenge Illinois has right now.

No further news yet to report on Dre Brown, a running back in the Class of 2015 from DeKalb (Ill.) High School who Illinois is high on. Getting in on a player like Brown early could help out in the long run, especially when big-name programs start to get involved. Which they most likely will.

Matt Daniels wrote on April 05, 2013 at 2:04 pm
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Looks like we're out of questions for this week. Thanks to all those who participated. Should be back at the same time, same place next week for more recruiting chatter.

Have a good weekend everyone!