College basketball beat writer Marcus Jackson is chatting at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. Submit questions of any kind at any time.
Good afternoon. It's been a busy week with a couple of unanswered questions finally being answered. I see you've all still got quite a few questions for me, so I'll jump right to it.
Has Ahmad Starks already submitted his transfer elgibility request to the NCAA? When can we expect to hear on his status for next year? Would hate to see this eat up a scholarship for the 2014 class.
I mentioned in the story about Starks that he has not submitted the paperwork yet. He says that process will begin soon, as he expects to be on campus here in a couple of weeks. He's finishing up school at Oregon State right now. These are done on a case-by-case basis and Starks wasn't sure what the timetable would be on his situation, but I wouldn't expect to hear anything until late this summer. It could go into August. He and the Illinois coaches are fairly confident he will be eligible to play immediately.
You keep saying Illinois is in "good shape" with Cliff Alexander. What exactly does this mean? There were several players Illinois was supposedly in "good shape" with over the past few years and players of that caliber ended up going elsewhere. What makes this recruitment different and if you were to put a percentage of confidence CliffA comes here what would it be?
It means he likes Illinois and is seriously considering coming to school here. A lot of kids say things publicly about programs, but that's not always sincere. Alexander is sincere in his interest in Illinois. I'd consider that to be good shape, though it's going to be tough going up against Michigan State and Kentucky. I'm not a fan of putting percentages on these types of things, especially when you're taking into account that we're dealing with 16- and 17-year-old kids. I think back to my own recruiting process and I had no idea what the heck I wanted to do and that was a fraction of a percentage of the scale on what these types of athletes today are dealing with.
Any idea what the salaries are of the three Illini assistant basketball coaches (Ford, Parham, and Walker)? Is this published anywhere?
The Daily Illini publishes a salary guide each year. You can find that here. You cans earch for any university employee. The top three assistants make somwhere between $150,000 and $160,000.
With the addition of Starks. What other point guard besides Lyle are the Illini recruiting.
I think Tate is an underrated point guard who sacrificed some of his game at Simeon do you think he can take over the point in 2014.
In the 2014 class, Lyle is the big name, but Larry Austin Jr. is still out there and he's be the other main name. In 2015, Jalen Brunson is very high on Illinois' list as is Charles Matthews as a combo guard. Basketball folks around the state are split on which of those two guys is the best guard in the state in that class.
As far as Tate, a lot will depend on how he develops once he gets here. It might take some time. The most important thing for him once he arrives is to add strength. I know it's something he's been working to do on his own since the season ended. Tracy will still be here, too, in 2014-15 and Aaron Cosby. So, Tate likely won't be asked to carry a major load.
Any idea where Myke Henry ends up going? Is the staff assisting him through the transfer process? I actually heard there was an interest in NIU but couldn't confirm so just another rumor.
Did he just not play up to his potential or was he just not happy here with the new staff and everything?
In talking with Henry's former high school coach last week, I didn't get the sense they had any schools in mind yet. They're hoping to have an idea of what kind of interest there is in Myke in the next week or so. I wouldn't be surprised to see him remain somewhere close to the Chicago area. The Illinois staff will help as much as Myke wants them to help.
The decision was Myke's to leave the program. He spoke with Cavan Walsh at Chicago Hoops last week and said "I'm looking for a school that is going to give me an opportunity to really showcase my skills and let me play on the wing."
He had nothing but great things to say about the staff and the program.
So Jerrance is joining forces with Bill Self. I'm sure that will result in a frenzy of questions for you today, but does it really impact Illinois more than emotionally? If Kansas wants a kid from Chicago, they'll probably get him, with or without Howard on the staff. Thoughts?
I was expecting a bunch, but so far yours is the only one. That's plenty. I think you raise a very fair point, if Kansas wants a kid, it will more than likely get him. Bill Self has been one of the best in the business for a long time and he got the No. 1 player in the country a couple of weeks ago before Jerrance Howard was a part of his staff. The more interesting thing to me is Jerrance Howard and Bruce Weber potentially going head-to-head on the floor and in recruiting athletes to the state of Kansas. K-State and Kansas aren't usually going after the same players, though.
How are the potential 2015 recruits looking in spring ball? I am particularly interested in Brunson, Matthews, and Bragg. It's obviously very early but are we legitimately in on these kids and is there a mutual interest on their part to potentially come here and do something special?
I haven't been out to see any of the AAU tournaments, but from what I've been told and what I've read is that all are living up to the hype. Brunson's profile hascontinued to rise through the AAU season after leading Stevenson to the state title game in March. He and Matthews are considered the best guards in the state in their class. Bragg has made it a point a few times to mention Illinois as a school that's really after him and one that he likes. He's one to keep an eye on. He's a high priority in '15 along with the top in-state guys Brunson, Matthews, D.J. Williams.
So now that we have the Myke Henry/Ahmad Starks transition figured out, how does the roster seem to round out now? From my count we still look a little thin inside, only 4 bigs.
It looks like we are going to be playing small and fast a lot this next year. This could be good when the shooters are on, but what do you see on bad shooting nights?
My guess is we'll be a lot like last year: when the shooting is on we'll look great, if our defense is on we'll be in a lot of games whether we win or lose, but if we aren't shooting and the defense is flat we could get run out of the gym.
The arrow is definitley pointing up. We could be very dangerous in a year or two.
We're still not 100 percent sure how things are going to look until we know what Starks' eligibility is. But you're right, the roster is heavy on perimeter players with Ekey, Egwu, Colbert and Morgan as the bigs. Those guys will all play and the hope is the freshmen will be able to produce quality minutes.
Something that shouldn't be overlooked is Rayvonte Rice's ability to take advantage of smaller guards. He can post up occasionally down there and get a few buckets.
It might take a while for the parts to come together and there might be some games early that Illinois loses that will have some teetering on a ledge. But I'd expect, a lot like last year, to get better as the season goes on.
With the recent transfers now committed, please do the math and give the number of scholarships that will be open for the '14 class assuming Starks is granted the hardship waiver and can play next season.
If Starks is eligible immediately, Illinois has two scholarships for '14.
Whats your thoughts on Jerrance Howard to KU? How much oh an impact will KU have recruitng Chicago now do you think? Should make for some interesting recruiting battles, especially Charles Matthews.
I spoke too soon on the Jerrance questions. Yes, Kansas and Self have always done well in the city when they wants. With Jerrance on board, the city will be more of a priority than is has been in recent years for the Jayhawks. Kansas will have more of a presence and it will strengthen their chances in the city some, but not dramatically. They'll likely go after the five-star type guys and they can't take everyone from Chicago. There will still be plenty of players, especially in these upcoming classes, for Illinois and the restto choose from.
With Jerrace Howard going to Kansas, does this have an even bigger impact on our recruting Chicago? Self already was pretty strong there.
Ok so where do we sit with getting a legititmate PG to come here? I actually have high confidence in Tate believe it or not, which I may be the only one. I know they have targeted Lyle and Black for 2014 though, so not sure where we stand with those guys and what the competition looks like to get them. Plus I really don't have much info on either of those guys so any stats or comments on their ability would be appreciated.
They're working extremely hard on JaQuan Lyle, but the best bet would be in 2015 with Jalen Brunson.
Lyle is a big point guard, can get in the lane to create for teammates and score and he's got good range on his shot and if that improves, he'll be much better. He's smooth. He can do it all. Black is a very aggressive power forward and he can run the floor well, which this staff really likes out of its 4 men. He's a relentless rebounder, too. He has a good face-up game, but need to improve in the post.
Can Starks go through all of the summer workouts while he awaits a decision on his hardship waiver or is he in limbo, unable to work with the coaches and team until a decision has been finalized?
Good question. Yes, Starks can go through all the activities and workouts with the rest of the team throughout the waiver process, that way he will be up to speed if and when he's ruled eligible.
What does jerrance going with kansas mean to some of our targets in Chicago land for next few years? Do you see him closer to getting a head coaching job? What about our current assistants who has most head coaching potential?
It might bring Kansas into play for some of the top guys in the state, namely Okafor, Matthews and potentially Cliff Alexander, though Big Cliff seems to really like MSU, UK and Illinois. They've all built strong relationships with him. Working under Larry Brown, Bill Self and Bruce Weber certainly has given Jerrance an opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business and I wouldn't be surprised in a year or two to see him getting some interviews for head coaching jobs.
Who has the most potential on the current staff? I think they're all aspiring to that. I don't know that any is further along than the others.
What's up, MJ? I hate to be one of the scholarship number teeth-gnashers I've fought so much, but is the staff taking Starks a sign that they're confident he'll be eligible this season? He doesn't make a lot of sense to add if he has to sit out this year; even before you consider what 2014 recruits Illinois might get- or not be able to get if that scholarship isn't available- Tate and Nunn will be sophomores in '14-'15. So you'd either be undercutting them after one or both played a lot of minutes as a freshman, or losing a '14 scholarship on a guy who couldn't beat them out. I know: the more shooters, ballhandlers, and competition for spots, the better. But I am I wrong for only seeing this as a positive move if he's eligible this season?
No worries. The feeling around the program is positive that Starks will be granted the waiver once the process plays out. But if not, they'll do what they can to make it work. That would be a very deep backcourt the following season with the Nunn, Tate, Cosby, Abrams, Starks and then Rice and Hill on the wings. It could become an issue if someone is unhappy with playing time. That's a bridge they'll have to cross if it comes to that. That is a lot of players.
Thanks for all the questions, got a late rush of them there. Things might slow down some here, but as we've seen all offseason, something always seems to pop up. I'll be on the radio tonight at 5 with Steve Kelly on WDWS. Talk to you all again soon.