June 7 recruiting chat

June 7 recruiting chat

Friday, June 7, 2013 - 1:00pm

Recruiting blogger Matt Daniels takes questions at 1 p.m. Fridays. Wes Lunt, Larry Austin, Tori McCoy ... anything goes. Submit them at any time.

Matt Daniels wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Greetings everyone. Matt Daniels here for the next hour to handle any recruiting and/or footabll-themed questions. I just got back from an interview at Memorial Stadium, and the new scoreboard is making progress. It is definitely much bigger than the previous one.

On a recruiting note, all five Illinois men's basketball players in the Class of 2013 arrived on campus this week, registering for classes and going through orientation. Workouts are slated to work next week for the next crop of players under John Groce.

And Wes Lunt reportedly did visit Illinois yesterday. The Oklahoma State transfer has had nearly a month to decide on what school he'll attend next. Looks like it'll come down to Louisville and Illinois, but everything I'm hearing is Louisville is the front-runner at this point.

Let's get started with the questions.

John M Wash DC wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Matt, when both Beckman and Groce got here, they both made a general statement about recruiting. Beckman said, "first I have to win then I can recruit." Groce said: "I have to recruit, then I can win". Groce seems to be working his plan perfectly, because he has assembled a team that should win 20 and get to the round of 32/16. Beckman on the other hand might not win enough to attract the recruits he needs. Is Illinois football a "bridge too far? Do you think Thomas will allow Coach B 5 years to get recruiting on track?

Matt Daniels wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey John,

Football and basketball recruiting are two different beasts, although they have similar tendencies these days in coaches going after players at an earlier age, especially on the football side. Tim Beckman and his staff are keeping tabs on players in the class of 2015 and 2016 right now, who will be juniors and sophomores this fall.

Groce definitely has the momentum advantage right now when it comes to recruiting. Going 23-13 like Illinois did last year and coming within a few points of reaching the Sweet 16 will certainly do that. Groce has proven he can make an impact in March, and that's what recruits are wanting to see. It worked in swaying Austin Colbert to Illinois after he watched Ohio reach the Sweet 16 in 2012. If Ohio doesn't beat Michigan in the second round that year, chances are Colbert is playing either at Seton Hall or Miami, not Illinois.

Illinois football has the organization in place for recruiting. Various recruiting analysts I've talked to agree on that, along with seeing it in person first-hand. Illinois is hosting a showcase camp tonight, which in other words is a chance for coaches to evaluate upcoming seniors, juniors and sophomores, along with any promising freshmen. It's the first of three Illinois will have on campus this month.

If Illinois football goes through another 2-10 season like it did last year, chances are slim to none Beckman would be around in five years to fully see the players he's brought in with this class develop.

Bear8287 wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Hi Matt,

Thanks for doing these chats.  I read your article on Michael Hermosillo.  Does Michael have an offer to play baseball at Illinois?  How do sholarship offers work for two sport atheletes?

If Michael is considering a pro career in baseball, do you know why he would be putting a collegiate scholarship in football ahead of a scholarship in baseball?  If he's good enough to be drafted by an MLB team, I'd assume that there would be plenty of college coaches that would want him on their team. Did this topic come up at all in your discussions with him?

(Why did Bo Jackson's name just pop into my mind?)



Matt Daniels wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey Bear,

Thanks for the questions. In the case of Michael Hermosillo, an outfielder on the Ottawa (Ill.) High School baseball team and stud running back who could play either running back or slot wide receiver at Illinois if he does play football in college, he had a full scholarship in football. Football and basketball are the only sports where full scholarships are handed out. In baseball, the NCAA, to the best of my knowledge, allows roughly 12 full scholarships for the entire team.

Usually there's 30-35 players on a college baseball roster, so even if you're an elite talent, chances are you aren't getting a full ride. More like a partial scholarship divided up among the rest of the team.

Right now, to my understanding after talking with Hermosillo, he has a full football scholarship at Illinois, so there's really no need for a baseball scholarship. And he said the plans are, if he doesn't decide to try his hand at professional baseball right away, is to go through a whole football season all the way through next year's spring game and then join up with the Illinois baseball team. We'll see what happens.

Bobby E. Lee wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm

This is the most chaotic 18 months I can remember in the basketball program for changes in the roster.  Normally a projected line up and depth charge can indicate direction on recruiting.  Any ideas on projected line up, depth chart, and directions in recruiting for the next two years.  Big question, sorry.


Matt Daniels wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey Bobby,

Transfers, like the six Illinois has accumulated in a little more than 13 months, and departures, like the three players who left shortly after the 2012-13 season and then Myke Henry's transfer recently, plus the graduation of key contributors like Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and Tyler Griffey, have made for a topsy-turvy roster at times.

Analyzing the current roster for the 2013-14 season, and assuming Ahmad Starks is approved by the NCAA to be eligible immediately for next season, you could have returnees like Tracy Abrams, Nnanna Egwu and Joseph Bertrand in the starting lineup, along with transfers in Rayvonte Rice and most likely Jon Ekey. With the influx of transfers Illinois has received, it takes some pressure off of incoming freshmen like Malcolm Hill, Kendrick Nunn and Austin Colbert of having to start right away next year. The transfers of Darius Paul and Aaron Cosby won't be eligible until the 2014-15 season, but they can help prepare guys like Jaylon Tate, Colbert and Maverick Morgan by going against them in practice this year.

Chances are Rayvonte Rice will be Illinois' best scoring option next season. The year away refining his body and parts of his game should elevate the Centennial product into one of the more intriguing players in the Big Ten next winter.

As far as recruiting, Michael Finke will arrive in the Class of 2014, and Illinois is still in relatively good position with some of the premier recruits in the Class of 2014, namely Cliff Alexander. It appears John Groce wants to rely on transfers to fill up for departing holes right now instead of leaving it up to unprove true freshmen. I wouldn't imagine the number of transfers to stay at this rate moving forward in Groce's tenure, but it is a hot trend in college basketball these days, good or bad.

WBBFan wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm


Has the Women's Basketball coaching staff expressed any interest in Tori McCoy? Or does she have any interest in playing for IL?

Matt Daniels wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey WBBFan,

The Illinois women's basketball team is extremely interested in Tori McCoy. The 6-foot-4-inch center will likely be the top prospect in the country in the Class of 2016 once rankings come out. That's helped out by her dominating freshman season at St. Thomas More along with her making the USA U16 national squad that will play in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of the month. Having seen her play in person a few times, she has skills of a guard in terms of taking the ball coast-to-coast for a lineup not seen frequently with players of her size at the high school game, let alone freshmen.

Illinois has offered a scholarship to her, and Matt Bollant would gladly take her tomorrow if McCoy would want to commit. Other Big Ten schools, like Purdue and Michigan State, are interested in her, along with a handful of other Division I schools. Expect her to go through the recruiting process, especially since it's so early right now for her, before she decides, but also expect the heavyweights of the women's game, Connecticut, Baylor, Tennessee and more, to pick up interest in McCoy. She's that good.

TheChiefLives wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Any news on Jeff George's visit with Wes Lunt?

Matt in Bloomington wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm

How did Wes Lunt's visit go yesterday?  Word was the coaching staff brought Jeff George in to talk to him; not a bad closing strategy.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how important do you think it would be to Beckman, and to improving the fan base's current perception of him and the program, to bring Lunt into the fold?  I think it's at least an 8... 

Matt Daniels wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey guys,

Mum is the word on Wes Lunt's reported visit to Illinois yesterday. I reached out to the Lunt family yesterday, and they did not want to comment on the transfer process. Andy Lunt, Wes' father, said they want to let it play out before making public comments. Rochester coach Derek Leonard has said Illinois and Louisville are the two schools Lunt has visited, with Lunt coming to the Illinois campus twice in the past couple weeks while he visited Louisville on May 28.

Can't confirm that Jeff George was in town yesterday to talk to Lunt.

I'd say it'd be about a 12 in getting Lunt to transfer to Illinois. He had a prolific high school career at Rochester, which isn't too far down the road from Illinois. He brings name recognition and credibility based on the production he had at times starting as a true freshman at Oklahoma State last fall before injuries hit.

If Lunt decides to come to Illinois, it's the best news of the offseason for Illinois. Bar none.

Clark Kent wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm

What are typically the three biggest factors to get a recruit?  Facilities, relationship with staff, relationship with current players, pedigree, recent trends, etc?

Matt Daniels wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey Clark,

Hope you're getting ready for your movie next week. Looks good.

The big draw Illinois football tries to use is the relationship among the staff and players. Have a brief conversation with any of Tim Beckman's coaches about the topic, and the word family is likely to be dropped at least a half a dozen times.

Every recruit is different. Some want to go to a school where academics are a high priority. Others want to come in and be able to play right away. Location and how far away they are from home is another factor. How successful/unsuccessful a program has been in the last few years is another factor.

In my view, building relationships with the coaches and the current players is among the highest priority. That's who the recruits will spend a large majority of their time with at Illinois, and if they don't like those people, chances are they won't like their time.

Facilities do play a role. Tim Beckman is hopeful the new scoreboard at Memorial Stadium might sway a recruit or two, and John Groce is surely counting down the days until the State Farm Center's renovation is complete.

Konnie wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I have just started to follow the recruitment of elite high school football, basketball and other sports players.  What do you think are the two most important things that the elite player looks for in a college program?  Playing time, exposure, a program with high name recognition, a high quality education, or something else?  Thanks for the chat!

Matt Daniels wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey Konnie,

Welcome aboard. Recruiting is a never-ending world of speculation. Like one Illinois assistant coach recently told me, as much as they try to make it like a science, it's not.

I touched on this question a bit in the previous one, but all the items you mention come into play. Illinois is appealing to recruits based on the fact that it's in the Big Ten. It's the state school. It has a long-standing tradition, good, bad and indifferent in some sports.

With Illinois football right now, the top-rated recruits are looking elsewhere. That's just the reality, especially coming off the season like Illinois had last year. Tim Beckman and his staff are hopeful they can get in on prospects earlier, evalute them earlier and develop them better once they arrive on campus.

John Groce showed last fall he could nab some of the country's more respected recruits, keeping Malcolm Hill on board while picking up Kendrick Nunn in early September before he went on four more of his planned official visits and stealing Austin Colbert late in the process.

Matt  Bollant has developed a pipeline to Nebraska, with three players (two high school players and one transfer from Missouri) set to join the team for the 2014-15 season. Both basketball programs are on solid footing recruiting-wise based on the seasons they had last winter while football is more of an uphill climb.

John B. wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Matt, thanks for taking our questions today.

I'm sure you have already had a million or so regarding Wes Lunt, so I'll skip the obvious.

With Michael Hermosillo contemplating the MLB, do you know if there are any possible replacement recruits to fill his spot if he chooses baseball? Also, is he considering playing both at Illinois like Kyle Hudson?

Also, this is sort of recruiting related, I heard a rumor thru the grapevine that we might wear some new helmets in a game this year that has the chief style feathers on it. Any truth to that and is this one of the new ways to attract potential recruits that we might see more of?

Thanks again for taking our chats.

Matt Daniels wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey John,

No worries about the Wes Lunt questions. If you're intereseted in him, ask away. He's a highly-valued transfer that Illinois is in contention with landing, so it's a hot topic. As it should be.

As far as Michael Hermosillo, it's a little late in the recruiting game to bring in a player to replace him with this year's class if he does decide to play professional baseball. Unless Illinois could land a transfer running back or wide receiver this summer, who then wouldn't most likely be eligible to play until 2014, chances are slim of filling that void if Hermosillo does not end up at Illinois. 

Most likely what Illinois would do is take that scholarship and add it to its Class of 2014, which is thin right now in numbers at around 15 scholarships. They already have four commits and 11 scholarship seniors, so 11 more commits are likely to ensue. That number, like all scholarship numbers, are always fluid, so you might end up with around 17-18 recruits for the Class of 2014, but nowhere near the 25 recruits Illinois brought in with the Class of 2013.

I asked Tim Beckman when I talked to him earlier this week about the possibility of new helmets. There is speculation out there in the World Wide Web about helmets with chief style feathers on it. Beckman didn't say if those would come out this season or if there's any truth to it, but I'd expect Illinois to unveil a couple new looks this fall. It's definitely a trend in college football these days and it's something the players enjoy. The coaches enjoy it from a recruiting standpoint, too, plus it generates some buzz in the offseason. Look at all the attention Indiana received for the unveiling of some new helmets recently.

Illinois would be smart, if they are having new looks to the football uniforms this season, to release that this summer before the season gets started. That way it gives them time to spotlight the new looks before it gets lost in the shuffle of regular season coverage. 

Anonymous User wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm

What are our realistic chance with jahlil? Why did he leave us on his list?  What can you tell us about Brandone? Do we have a legit chance?  What is normal time frame we can expect the next person to commit?

Matt Daniels wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Hey anonymous,

Realistically, I would be stunned if Jahlil Okafor from Chicago Whitney Young ends up at Illinois. Going somewhere like Kansas, Kentucky or Duke seems the more likely destination for a premier recruiting talent like Okafor. It seems it was more of a nice gesture by Okafor to include Illinois on the list, although I'm sure John Groce and his staff are all ears if Okafor does have sincere interest in Illinois.

As far as Brandone Francis, he's a bigger guard (6-5) from Florida who is also a part of the Class of 2014. Illinois does have an offer out to him and he had an impressive spring on the AAU circuit. He's one of the many recruits on my summer to-do list I'd like to catch up with. Stay tuned for any updates. 

With the next recruit to commit to Illinois, you're never quite sure. Some like to wait to take all their official visits in the fall before deciding. Others just decide on a whim after making a trip to campus in the summer. Signing day is set for mid-November (can't remember off the top of my head the exact date), so I'll take the easy way out on this way and say sometime in the next five months.

Matt Daniels wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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Going to wrap up this week's chat. Thanks for all the varied questions. Good bunch to tackle today. Need anything else, email me at mdaniels@news-gazette.com or hit me up on Twitter (@mdaniels_ng). Plan on being back here next week at the same time for more.

Have a great weekend!