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HQ recruiting blogger Matt Daniels takes your questions at 1 p.m. each Friday. Submit them any time.
Greetings everyone on a cold, gray Friday afternoon in Champaign-Urbana. Matt Daniels here for the next hour.
Perfect feel for a fall home football game. Alas, Illinois will hold its spring football game at 8 tonight at Memorial Stadium. Bundle up if you're going. And don't be shocked if the offense struggles a bit throwing the ball with the high wind gusts anticipated.
That's enough football talk for now. Let's get it going with the recruiting questions.
How does John Groce divide recruiting responsibilities for staff members? By area? By position? Do they usually see players for the first time before Groce begins watching them?
Good question to start off on. I'll have to check with beat writer Marcus Jackson for any specifics, but his assistants do have areas they are familiar with based on their backgrounds, which always helps in recruiting.
Jamall Walker played his college ball at St. Louis, Dustin Ford is familiar with Ohio (a state you may see Illinois in more in the future given the staff's ties to the state) and Paris Parham is a name well-known up in Chicago recruiting circles given his background as a prep coach and player in the city.
Walker works mainly with the guards and Ford with the big men, so it would make sense for those coaches to recruit and develop contact with those type of players. For example, Centennial's Michael Finke usually talks to Ford once a week while Walker was the first assistant to make contact with highly-coveted guard JaQuan Lyle from Evansville.
Groce has his hand in all manners of recruiting, but usually likes to get out and see players in person before making the ultimate decision of handing out a scholarship or not. Anytime a head coach goes out to see a prospect play, whether it's at a high school game, AAU game or open gym session, it means they're seriously interested.
How hard are we recruting Victor Law ,he seems like he would be great in our system.Also with Alex Foster now on the market will Groce make a run at him as well ? Thanks for your time.
I talked to Law's high school coach, Gary DeCesare at Chicago St. Rita, about a month ago, and he said Law's recruitment is sky-rocketing.
The forward shot up the rankings after a strong junior season for the Mustangs, and I'd imagine Illinois is high on him. He's got a versatile skill set plus a toughness that could incorporate well into John Groce's system.
As far as Alex Foster, the senior forward from Chicago Seton Academy who recently decommited from Minnesota after Tubby Smith's firing, the Illinois could go after him, but it appears the fifth-year transfer market is where Illinois might go in search of additional players for the 2013-14 season.
Do you know what a recruiting visit to Illinois is like for a basketball recruit. Aaron Cosby is on campus right now and just wondering what John Groce has in store for a visiting recruit. Does he take them anywhere special? What are his main selling points? Does he have old players come visit?
Thanks again for the weekly chats. Keep up the good work.
Hey Justin VH,
Happy Friday to you as well. Every recruiting visit is different for a particular recruit, and John Groce and his staff try to tailor each visit to what that particular player likes or is interested in.
For an extended visit, like the one Seton Hall transfer Aaron Cosby is on right now, usually dinner, a visit of the team's facilities, meetings with academic advisers, a workout or two possibly and just being around the team's current players. Usually the players that are around are a team's best recruiters. It lets the prospective recruit get a real sense of what the program is like.
I'd put the facilities Illinois has at Ubben up there among some of the country's best, plus the sight of Assembly Hall is unique and special.
The close-knit feel Groce has achieved in his first year at Illinois with the players and coaching staff is one of the biggest selling points he can use, plus the idea of a particular player coming in and getting the program among the nation's elite on a consistent, year-in and year-out basis is another area Groce will surely play up.
Which target of Illinois' do you see as a better fit: Aaron Cosby or Eldsly
Not sure who you're referring to when you mention Eldsly. Aaron Cosby could fit in nicely with Illinois. Mind you, he wouldn't be eligible to play unti 2014-15, but he can fill a scoring need and outside shooting role that Illinois doesn't have a proven player to fill those areas right now.
His scoring increased at Seton Hall from his freshman year to his sophomore season (7.9 points to 12.6) so if that trend would continue, you'd expect him to average double figures if he would choose Illinois.
When do you think Alexander will make his decision and how do you like the Illini's chances with him these days?
Hey Dave C.,
Big Cliff likes to play it close to the vest about his recruitment. That's his choosing and as a highly-touted prospect, it's probably the best way to not get overwhelmed with the whole recruiting process.
The Chicago Curie big man is interested in Illinois (as evident of his visit to watch Illinois against Nebraska), but Michigan State is still the team to beat. Tom Izzo has developed his fair share of top-flight post players. Right now, it's the Spartans and everyone else, but Illinois is closing ground.
John Groce could sell to Alexander the possibility of coming to Illinois and being that program-changing player. Plus, with Chicago Simeon guards Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate opting to stay and play for that state school, it showed other Chicago prospects that it's not necessarily a bad option to stay close to home and play for the state school again.
Every university extends far more scholarship offers to student-athletes than they actually have to offer. I realize that it is a numbers game, the school offers "many" in hopes of landing "some". But of those the school offers, there has to be some sort of a priority list. Illinois is "in" with a number of players in the class of 2014, but with limited scholarships, they'd really like to land one or more of the big fish. But oftentimes the "big fish" wait til the end before committing. Is there any obligation that the university has if they make an offer to a lesser player that they like but not as much as another? Do they have to take them? Can they rescind the offer? Is it first come, first served? Or are the offers conditional?
Hey Big Dave,
This recruiting thing is a risky business. Coaches have to be smart about who they offer, when they offer and how soon that certain prospect may offer. And they're all waiting on 16, 17 and 18-year-old kids to make decisions that affect their livelihood.
The offers are out there so the coaches can cover their bases. If they don't offer enough, then they're stuck with players who aren't necessarily on their priority list. All coaches have a constant recruiting board they update to rate the priority and need of a certain area.
Oftentimes the big players don't necessarily wait to the end to commit, which allows the coaching staffs to regroup and go after players they might have have medium interest in and ratchet it up a notch.
For instance, it's safe to say that if Demetrius Jackson had committed to Illinois, Jaylon Tate of Chicago Simeon might not be coming to Illinois. Recruiting is all a giant puzzle sometimes, reorganizing and moving around pieces to get the best fit.
For the most part, the players that are getting recruited to are knowledgable about the process, too. They understand that there's only a certain amount of spots open for them, and if a player decides they want to go to a school before that prospect does, there might not be a scholarship available.
What have you heard about Drew Crawford staying at Northwestern? If he chooses to transfer, is Illinois a realistic possibility for him? I know the athlete's old school will generally blacklist certain teams that usually include conference teams, but with Northwestern being the academic "shrine" it holds itself to be, wouldn't it be hypocritical to hold back an athlete trying to enroll in a program that's not available at his old school? Also, could it work with the scholarship numbers? I, unlike Coach Groce, am not so good at counting.
Hey Illini in Longhorn Land,
Bring some of that weather from Texas to Champaign.
Have not heard much on the Drew Crawford transferring out of Northwestern. Hiring Chris Collins was a good move for the Wildcats as he brings credibility and name recognitiion to a school that is starving for basketball success.
If, and this is a big, hypothetical if, Crawford would decide to transfer out of Northwestern, I'd be surprised if he ended up at Illinois.
I suppose it could be hypocritical of Northwestern if they would not want their best player to transfer to a school two hours away and to one of their bigger rivals. But who could blame them if they don't want that scenario to transpire?
It could work with the scholarship numbers Illinois has. The Illini have three open scholarships now with the transfers of Mike Shaw, Devin Langford and Ibby Djmide.
What are the realistic chances we have to obtain commitments from DE Hendrix, LB's Watson, Garrett, and Nyles Morgan? Also did the Illini offer Anthony Standifer from Crete Monee a couple of years ago/ He went to Mississippi and seems that they have started a pipeline for players from a rich FB program. Seems like we can't even do that in our own back yard.
Of the four you mention — O'Fallon defensive end Dewayne Hendrix, East St. Louis linebacker Kyron Watson, Plainfield South linebacker Clifton Garrett and Crete-Monee linebacker Nyles Morgan — I'd say one is a realistic possibility for Illinois.
And that's Watson. The 6-2, 215-pound junior plays for a program that is one of the best in the state. Plus, the Flyers have sent their fair share of past players to Illinois (Dana Howard, Kendrick Jones, Terry Hawthorne, to name a few). And Watson is supposed to be in attendance for tonight's spring game. All signs that should favor Illinois, who will also have to deal with several other Big Ten programs who are pursuing Watson.
As far as the other three, I would not be shocked if all three wound up playing at an SEC school. Those are the types of offers they're generating and the interest will continue to skyrocket until a decision is made. Unless Illinois goes 12-0 this fall, I don't envision Hendrix, Garrett or Morgan realistically considering Illinois.
Do you think the commitment of Mike Dudek will have any effect on the recruitment of Enoch Smith of Mt. Carmel? I believe they are close.
Hey EA Sports,
It certainly can help Illinois. When I talked to Dudek the day after he committed, he said he's good friends with Smith, a defensive tackle who has several high-major offers to sift through.
Dudek said he'd be willing to reach out to players in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, and is already on Smith to strongly consider Illinois. Sometimes the commits are better recruiters than the coaches, which helps programs lure in players all the time.
I read a couple of days ago before Zeller announced for the NBA that Indiana has promised more scholarships for next year than they have available. With Zeller and Oladipo leaving, they still have promised one scholarship too many for next year. I had never heard of this until last year when Crean did the same thing and told Matt Roth that he would not have a scholarship this year even though Roth had another year of eligibility. Is this common practice? Returning player or incoming freshman...someone will be left out in the cold this year. Slimy way to run a program in my opinion. I have heard that this is called "Creaning a player" which leads me to believe that it is the Indiana coach who started this trend.
Most college basketball colleges, in the recruiting process, extend more scholarships to players than they have available. Usually it just comes down to a numbers game and once they're out of scholarships, they are good to go for that class. But college coaches need to constantly stay on players until they sign that letter of intent.
It's not the most fan-friendly approach to running a program, but one that isn't entirely new to the college basketball landscape. Some schools have scholarships that are multi-year; others that are renewable every year. If a player isn't meeting expectations the coach has in mind, it's the coach's decision whether to renew the scholarship or not. Slimy or not, that's the unfortunate truth sometimes with recruiting.
Going to wrap up this week's chat. Thanks for all the questions and inquiries. I'll be back next week at the same time and same place.
Hope everyone has a great weekend!