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College basketball beat writer Marcus Jackson takes you questions at 12:30 p.m. each Wednesday. Submit them any time and he'll do his best to respond.
Good afternoon and thanks for stopping by for another Illinois basketball chat. The July evaluation period is over and this is the final week of summer workouts for the current team before a break until the fall semester begins. Everyone involved will get to cut back a little bit before things pick back up in a month or so. I'll be here for a little while, about an hour or so, taking your questions.
I keep seeing updates on Cliff Alexander and lately when they mention schools in the running, I haven't seen Illinois being mentioned.. Have we started losing ground to other schools? Also, with so many scholarships available for 2015, are we likely to see Groce mix his recruiting class with more transfers in addition to in-state talent?
Who is "they"? What you're probably seeing a lot of now in regards to Cliff Alexander is the schools where he's planning to take official visits. Kansas, Arizona, Memphis, Louisville and possibly Kentucky or Florida. That's been out there for a while. Illinois and Michigan State aren't on that list and that's likely because Cliff can get to those campuses on his own dime whenever he wants. Illinois is still in as good of shape with Cliff as they have been the whole way and it's my belief they will be right there until he makes a decision. I wouldn't expect a decision until close to the Novemeber signing period.
The plan right now in 2015 is to get high school players, in-state players and out-of-state players and maybe even an international kid. Montague Gill-Caesar is a guy Illinois spent a lot of time watching in July. He's from Canada. You can't plan for transfers this far in advance, you don't know who's going to be available.
Thanks for the chats, I always get some usefull info from them.
Do we know what the status of Ahmad Starks is? Do when know when we will hear from the NCAA on whether or not he will be able to play this year?
Thanks for reading. The status of Ahmad Starks' waiver is still unknown. The NCAA doesn't provide updates or give themselves a deadline. The review and gather the information at their own rate and when a decision is made, Illinois will be notified. I don't know when that will be, John Groce doesn't know when that will be.
When do you think (Year wise) that the Illini will ever be predicted to finish in the top 3 of the Big Ten? They'll definitely get there before someone predicts it, but when do you think the media will actually put faith in the Illini before a season starts?
It will happen whenever Illinois puts together a roster that's worthy of being predicted to finish near the top of the Big Ten. It's not a matter of disrespect, but while Illinois has had some solid teams of late, it just hasn't been on the same level of the Ohio States, Michigan States, Michigans, Indianas, etc. With recruiting and developing the players already in the program, I'd guess something like that might still be two to three years away. You've got to remember, too, that the rest of the Big Ten has been really, really good the last couple of years. I think three teams were in the preseason Top 25 in the country last season and Michigan State is almost a lock to be a Top 3 team this season.
Hi marcus thanks for the chats my question is about prince ali i have been watching tape on this kid and im very impressed he has a really high motor and is extremely athletic what are the illini chances with him in 2015 and what is the staff doing to recruit him?
Prince Ali picked up an offer a couple of weeks ago and he's one of those guys who could be a good fit. Like you said, he plays with a motor and that's a quality this coaching staff really takes into account. It's still pretty early in the game, but just like with any recruit, Illinois is trying to build a relationship with Prince and letting him know how he will fit into their program should he choose to pick them. He's not a program-changer, but one of those guys you need in the rotation who can keep things running. He's generated some high-major interest with UConn, Miami and Vanderbilt offering.
Hey MJ, I thought I heard on sportsline that Illinois had contacted T Uliss . Please tell me it isn't so .I don't think it would work out and would be a Reggie Woodward type of Schollarship. Not that he would get one to get someone else, but a bench rider 95% of the time . Maybe the kid is good, but he's just too small . Might be okay on offense but couldn't stop anybody on defense.
There's not a whole lot to that. They took a look at him in July while watching other players, but that's as far as it's gone. He's going to be really good for somebody and he's a better defender than you might think. He shut down much bigger guards. It wouldn't have anything to do with Ahmad Starks. if Starks didn't get the waiver, though, you'd have two undersized guards on the 2014-15 roster and that's not ideal. To say he'd be a benchwarmer at the next level isn't right. He's going to be a major contributor somewhere, but Illinois decided a long time ago not to pursue Ulis.
I just recently heard that Illinois is now interested in Tyler Ullis. Can you shed any light on why now? It seems late in the game to be going after a kid that you haven't shown any interest in previously. What if anything can you tell us about this latest development? Does it have anything to do with Ahmad Starks getting his waiver?
Late 2 the Game
That's going to do it for today, thanks for the questions and I'll see you all back her enext week at the same time.