May 3 recruiting chat

May 3 recruiting chat

Friday, May 3, 2013 - 1:00pm

HQ recruiting blogger Matt Daniels is back at it. Quiz him on any blue-chipper that has an interest in Illinois. He chats at 1 p.m. Fridays but submit questions any time.

Matt Daniels wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm
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Matt Daniels here for the next hour or so to answer any recruiting related questions that pop up. Glad to be back after a week off while I was back at my alma mater, Eastern Illinois, helping judge the IHSA journalism state finals competition.

Even though it's the first week of May, Illinois kept busy on the recruiting trail this week. The football team received a commitment from Newark Catholic (Ohio) quarterback Chayce Crouch and the men's basketball team has visitors in possible transfers Ahmad Starks (Oregon State) and Darius Paul (Western Michigan). Even Matt Bollant's women's basketball team picked up a verbal from Shelby-Rising (Neb.) post player Chatrice White for the Class of 2014.

Let's get going with the questions.

Anonymous User wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm

What would happen to scholarship situation if both Starks and Paul committed? How would you compare Paul's game to anyone in the big ten?  Any news on in home visits with okafur, Alexander, Lyle or black?   

Matt Daniels wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm
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Hey Anonymous,

It would decrease the scholarships, obviously, if both Ahmad Starks and Darius Paul committed. Right now Illinois has one open scholarship for the 2013-14 season (which could get knocked down to zero if Starks commits), and two for the 2014-15 season (which could get bumped to one if Paul winds up at Illinois).

Darius Paul is a bigger player than his older brother, and more of a post presence. Off the top of my head (and from beat writer Marcus Jackson's head), we're going with a Rodney Williams-like player from Minnesota, but without the ball-handling responsibilities. Paul is more of a true four who has some solid athleticism.

No news on in-home visits John Groce had with Jahlil Okafor of Chicago Whitney Young, JaQuan Lyle of Evansville Bosse or White Station (Tenn.) Leron Black. Groce did have an in-home with Cliff Alexander, but as the Chicago Curie big man emphatically tweeted recently, he has no top three schools.

larry harnly wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm

What are the live basketball recruiting periods between now and the start of practice in October?  Has the time decreased or increased in recent years?  Why?  How many coaches are allowed to go off campus?

Matt Daniels wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm
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Hey Larry,

Most of July is a live period for the college coaches. July is one of the big months recruiting-wise (then again, isn't every month pretty big as far as recruiting these days?). Coaches can evaluate from July 10-14, July 17-21 and July 24-28. Not sure yet on the dates for the fall, but that's a time when coaches typically go out and see prospects in open gym settings at the player's high school.

Not sure about time increasing or decreasing in recent years. I'll look into that.

I believe three of the four coaches can go off campus and recruit at one time. Meaning a combination of John Groce and his three assistants, Jamall Walker, Dustin Ford and Paris Parham, can all be out on the road at the same time.

Trent wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Hey matt, 

       What can u tell me about Brandone Francis the combo guard from dominican republic.  He has us in his top 5 and sounds like he is moving up in the rankings.  Looks like a good prospect


Matt Daniels wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm
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Hey Trent,

Brandone Francis is making his name more relevant this spring after strong showings with his AAU team, Florida Elite. A couple good games when college coaches are in attendance and national recruiting services are there as well can elevate a recruit's standing in a matter of days.

He's someone the Illinois staff is interested in because he's a guard with some size. At 6 feet, 5 inches, you don't find too many guards who can produce outside and inside like he possibly could.

He'll be a player John Groce and his staff continue to keep tabs on this spring and summer. Landing a player like that would certainly increase the staff's recruiting reach and gain more credibility at the national level.

Big Dave wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Perhaps we should reconsider our use of "madness" in March and move it to May. The NCAA needs to get a handle on all of these transfers. Who is the leader for Josh Davis? Did Illinois give Darius Paul a look out of high school? Is there a timetable on an Ahmad Starks' decision?   

Matt Daniels wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm
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Hey Big Dave,

Good point. It's becoming a tad crazy with all the transfers that are filtering throughout college basketball these days. It's certainly a changing landscape, but one Illinois is doing a good job of accepting as part of the new norm. Read what Loren Tate had to say about the trend in today's News-Gazette.

Not sure on who the leader is for Josh Davis at the moment, but Illinois isn't much of a player in that chase anymore for the Tulane big man.

When Darius Paul came out of Warren High School in Gurnee, that was under the previous regime of Bruce Weber. Don't believe Weber and his staff gave much consideration for Brandon's younger brother, who is considered a late bloomer. Good news for Illinois fans if Darius Paul does decide to transfer to the Illini, he'll have three seasons of eligibility left starting with the 2014-15 season.

Word spread a bit on Twitter last night that Ahmad Starks had committed to Illinois, but that's not true. It looks like something might happen on that front this weekend, and Illinois is in good standing with the former Chicago Whitney Young point guard.

Cameron wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Tell me a bit about Chase Crouch.  I'm actually surprised we took another QB considering we already have O'Toole and Bailey in the position post Scheelhouse.

Matt Daniels wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm
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Hey Cameron,

First off, it's Chayce, not Chase. Pronounced the same way, though, just different spelling. Took me a few times typing it to get it correct, so no worries.

Just like with pitchers in baseball, it's true with quarterbacks in football. You can never have enough. I think the injuries that hit the Illinois football team last year, including the one that sidelined Nathan Scheelhaase briefly, has made the coaching staff want to make sure if backups have to play, that they're quality backups.

Who's to say what the quarterback position will look like once Crouch arrives for the 2014 season. Scheelhaase will be gone, that's a fact, with Reilly O'Toole the likely starter unless Aaron Bailey simply dazzles the coaching staff.

Crouch is more of a passer than a runner, although he can use his legs a bit to make plays. He comes from a small school, but one that has a solid football program in Newark Catholic out of Newark, Ohio. The Green Wave have won eight state titles, and he quarterbacked them to a state runner-up finish last fall. Bill Cubit's new offense places a premium on quarterbacks being able to make plays, and Cubit, who was in Newark on Wednesday morning to watch Crouch throw, obviously liked what he saw enough from him to offer a scholarship, which Crouch quickly accepted.

Steve in Forsyth wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Does the recruitment of Chayce Crouch signal a shift in philosophy from a run-first, pass-second mentality, to the opposite of that?  Or do they simply want both types of quarterbacks as they have now in Scheelhause and O'Toole?  Bailey and Crouch seem to mirror their present situation.

Matt Daniels wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm
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Hey Steve in Forsyth,

Answered a bit of that with the previous question, but there's some new parts I'll try to answer.

I think when Tim Beckman hired Bill Cubit as his offensive coordinator it signaled a shift from quarterbacks being a run-first, pass-second option. Cubit does not want his quarterbacks to make plays with their feet as the first option. At least that's the way the spring game evolved, although Illinois did not show its full playbook in that game.

You're correct in that it seems Bailey and Crouch mirror the current situation with Nathan Scheelhaase and Reilly O'Toole. Bailey is a versatile threat who had more success in high school running the ball than passing while Crouch has been more proficient with his arm than his feet. It will be an interesting dynamic to see play out, especially with Bailey. He could wind up being the starter for three seasons possibly (given he red-shirts the 2013 season), which would then pose the question of how soon Crouch will take to the field.

jruss wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Matt, Of the two players that have vistied who you taking and why? I'm taking Paul as my choice for one reason he will be more help long term. But if and it a big IF we could get Big Cliff and\or Lyle, then by all mean take both of these players. Then take Stark for the short term. 

Matt Daniels wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm
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Hey jruss,

Illinois is in a solid position to land both Ahmad Starks from Oregon State and Darius Paul from Western Michigan. I wouldn't be shocked if Illinois gets both of the transfers who played high school basketball in Illinois.

I don't have a preference over either player. Both have different skill sets that could help improve Illinois either in the 2013-14 season or the 2014-15 season. Paul, like I mentioned earlier, would help more for the long term since he would have three seasons of eligibility starting with the 2014-15 season. Starks is a short-term answer, as he would (barring injury) only be eligible for the 2013-14 season.

Cliff Alexander and JaQuan Lyle are certainly two of the top prospects in the Class of 2014 Illinois is casting its lot with, along with other high-caliber programs. If Illinois lands one (I'd be shocked if they could get both), that'd be a major recruiting victory for John Groce.

illiniparkie wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I believe Brandone Francis, a combo guard out of Florida, has an offer from the basketball staff.  What can you tell us about him and how strong is his interest in the Illini?

On the football side, is the staff looking at signing any JUCO players for this year's class so they could contribute this fall?

Matt Daniels wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm
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Hey illiniparkie,

Don't know too much about Francis at this point, but his recruiting has picked up in the month of April. Usually happens if a player, like Francis has done, impresses once the AAU circuit gets rolling. He's a bit bigger guard, but one who can get to the basket while also knocking down an outside shot. It's a skill set not many have. 

In regards to football, the 2013 roster is pretty much set in stone. I doubt there will be any junior college players that are late additions in the next three months. Season starts Aug. 31, and coaches can't conduct practices with players during summer montsh.

The staff is interested in possibly adding one or two  junior college players with the Class of 2014. They've established good ties with Iowa Western Community College, nabbing wide receiver Martize Barr and offensive lineman Dallas Hinkhouse from that program, which won a national title last December. How much the five JUCO signees with the Class of 2013 contribute this season could go a way towards whether Illinois goes down the JUCO path again.

Matt Daniels wrote on May 03, 2013 at 1:05 pm
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Going to cut this chat off a bit short this week. Thanks for the varied questions and the detail to them. Good batch this week.

I'll be back at the same time, same place next week for more, and if there's any other questions/subjects that pop into your head, feel free to email me at or hit me up on Twitter (@mdaniels_ng).

Have a good weekend everyone!