Aug. 21 recruiting chat

Aug. 21 recruiting chat

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 2:30pm

Ask recruiting blogger MATT DANIELS anything about any blue-chipper. He'll respond during his 2:30 p.m. Wednesday chat.

Matt Daniels wrote on August 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm
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Greetings everyone on a warm Wednesday afternoon from Champaign. Matt Daniels here for the next 45 minutes or so taking your questions, recruiting-related and Illinois football related.

My recruiting game is a bit off since I've been primarily focused on Illinois football since Tim Beckman's team opened up training camp on Aug. 5, but I'll do my best. Without further ramblings, let's get started.

Trent wrote on August 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Hey Matt!

  So whats the deal with Big Cliff goin to take an official to Depaul but not Illinois?  The way i see it we might as well kiss him goodbye

  I think Black will commit on his visit and that will ease the pain of losing Alexander


Matt Daniels wrote on August 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm
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Hey Trent,

I did see where the Chicago Curie power forward listed DePaul as one of his five official visits. Illinois did not make the cut. Whether that's a good or bad sign, I'll let you decide. I don't foresee it as a crippling decision with Illinois' chances of landing Alexander. He has visited Illinois before. Same with DePaul.

Yes, the trip to Champaign-Urbana isn't long at all for Alexander to make. The trip to DePaul is even shorter, so why would he schedule one with the Blue Demons and not Illinois? Maybe as a courtesy to the city school that has seen better days on the hardwood.

I wouldn't kiss Alexander completely good-bye if I were an Illinois fan. He has expressed interest in the school and seems to like what John Groce has done in his short time on campus. The team I'd be more worried about instead of DePaul is Kansas. Get a player to experience Allen Fieldhouse, not to mention the success Bill Self has had out there, and chances are Self winds up with the player. His history has proven that he can close the deal.

Getting Leron Black on campus at the end of this month should provide a boost for Illinois. He's still planning to take visits to Baylor and Indiana, along with Tennessee, later in September. But as we saw last year when Kendrick Nunn visited Illinois first and then commited the weekend he was here, committments can happen on that first official visit.

MikeM wrote on August 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Would Cliff Alexander's recruitment be a case where, if it went into spring, it would actually help Illinois' chances? ESPN's Jeff Goodman handicapped the race for big Cliff earlier this week and has Illinois running a fairly close third behind Kansas and MSU, but still very much in the mix, with everyone else- Kentucky included- a ways back.

Let's say Illinois is better than expected this year and lands another blue-chipper in Leron Black, two very realistic events in my opinion. Meanwhile, Kansas loses more to the draft than just the expected Wiggins one-and-done, while Michigan State almost certainly looks like they'll be down from their normal standard in '14-'15.

We're so used to Illinois needing to get in early on a big-time recruitment to have a chance, but it seems to me this is a case that the longer it goes, the more it helps Groce and Co. Of course, that's if the perception that Illinois is a bit behind KU and MSU is true, which might not be the case at all as close to the vest as Cliff has played it.


Matt Daniels wrote on August 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm
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Hey Mike,

You are right. Cliff Alexander has played it close to the vest, but has narrowed it down some this summer to what school he might end up at.

I could see Alexander dragging his decision out until spring to benefit Illinois if John Groce can pull off another season like he did last winter. Any signs the program is moving in the right direction, like it showed last season, is a boost in recruiting. Seeing the progress continue only helps.

Then again, Kansas and Michigan State could have dynamite years, too, so that scenario might prove a wash.

If I were a betting man, which I'm not, the chances of landing Leron Black appear better right now than of securing a commitment from Alexander. A lot can happen between now and November when they might sign, or now and next April when they could sign as well, but Illinois seems to be in better shape with Black at the moment. Groce and his staff were a constant presence at Black's games this summer during the AAU season. The same is true of Alexander on the AAU circuit. Right now, Illinois basketball recruiting for the Class of 2014 is focused in on Black, Alexander and point guard Quentin Snider from Louisville, Ky. If none of the three wind up at Illinois, then it seems likely Illinois will take the next best player in the Class of 2014, but for now, it's those big three.

eastil13 wrote on August 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm

So it looks like Leron Black has a really good chance with Illinois, but Tennessee has a pretty good recruiting class for 2014. I feel like Tennessee is the biggest threat for Black, do you know how many scholarships they have left for 2014? Who do you think we're going to have to beat for Leron Black? Or do you think Tennessee, Indiana, and Baylor are tied for the most part?

Also, with the scrutiny that the NCAA has been getting for being "heartless" lately, do you think Ahmad Starks is more likely to get his waiver approved?

And last thing.. Are there any scheduled visits to Illinois by any 2014, 2015 guys?

Matt Daniels wrote on August 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm
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Hey eastil,

Not sure about Tennessee's scholarship situation for the Class of 2014, although they do have a former Illinois target in Springfield Lanphier combo guard Larry Austin Jr. on his way to Knoxville. The schools you mentioned in Baylor, Indiana and Tennessee are likely the ones Illinois will have to stave off for Black, who eliminated Florida and Memphis recently. Of course, Black originally committed to Baylor before de-committing from the Bears, so there's always a possibility he could go back to Baylor with his decision.

The Ahmad Starks waiver situation is an intriguing one. You would think the scenario would have been resolved by now, but alas, no conclusion has come from the NCAA. I'd imagine by the end of August more will be known about whether Starks will play next season or have to sit out a year. But we've been saying that for about a month, too.

As far as visits, Leron Black is scheduled for an official visit the weekend of Aug. 31 and Quentin Snider has an unofficial visit slated for sometime in September, although the date is eluding me at the moment.

Anxious For Hoops wrote on August 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Since some of the major hoops schools have Midnight Madness and do a good job of it, is Illinois doing anything to either revive that event in the future or come up with another recruiting/marketing hype event to use as a recruiting tool?  The school has had some success in the past with Madness before they failed miserably. The fan support would be there if the school did something right. Anything on the horizon?

Matt Daniels wrote on August 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm
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Hey Anxious,

Illinois did have some successful Midnight Madness events earlier this century, but lately, the event hasn't attracted the type of fans the program wanted to see, so they put an end to it.

With practices starting earlier this season for all basketball teams across the country, look for Illinois to do something to kick off the season in that regard. Will it be at Midnight and be televised on one of ESPN's many networks? Probably not, but I'd expect Illinois to put together some type of event this year.

It can be a great recruiting tool for a school if fans come out and the coaches are able to get elite prospects on campus, but it can also go the other way if the support isn't there. Based on your outlook, it seems the support would be there, so we'll have to wait and see.

Big Dave wrote on August 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm

How did Michael Finke do this summer against D-1 recruits on the AAU circuit?  

Matt Daniels wrote on August 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm
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Hey Big Dave,

Michael Finke had a productive summer playing AAU basketball when he went against some other Division I recruits. He plays for a quality program in the Peoria Irish and was at most of the tournaments several high-level players were at in July after he had his appendix removed, which caused him to miss some action in May.

He went up against Leron Black at a tournanment in Milwaukee in July and said he held his own against the power forward from Memphis, Tenn. Even guarded him a few times as well.

Finke has worked on improving his shot selection and finishing around the rim, two areas that weren't always the best during his junior season at Champagin Centennial. He is a student of the game and works tirelessly on his game. He may not be the McDonald's All-American type player when he lands at Illinois prior to the 2014-15 season, but he is a stretch forward who can shoot and whose better days of basketball are ahead of him.

efrem wrote on August 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm


I notice that Coach Beckman has been stating the issues with lack of depth this year.  Is Coach Beckman trying to tell us fans that we should expect another lousy season.  I happen to think Beckman deserves another two years but with our clueless fan base, he may need to protect himself with these comments.


thank you  

Matt Daniels wrote on August 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm
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Hey efrem,

Depth is probably the No. 2 topic Tim Beckman has addressed this month after the topic of injuries and keeping players healthy. He did so again today after practice.

I don't think Beckman is trying to send any hidden messages to the fan base with his comments about depth. He's being honest about it and said today the overall depth isn't built yet up at all position groups. During Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, he said his teams at Toledo could match starters from the Big Ten and other power conferences, but when it came time for the reserves to play, they didn't exactly match up well against reserves in the Big Ten.

It appears that is the case this season at Illinois as well. Illinois cannot afford injuries to some of its starters, mainly on the offensive line, and expect to have a better year than what it experienced in 2012. Injuries decimated Illinois last year. So far, no major season-ending injuries have come up, but injuries to starters like Ted Karras and Eric Finney could have backups starting in the season opener against Southern Illinois.

Ryan Taylo wrote on August 21, 2013 at 3:08 pm

What is Groce's plan to get Cliff Alexanger back on campus?   It's obvious Illinois needs him back on campus to have a chance at the big guy.  With him visiting Kansas soon, does Illinois need to get him on campus before, in order to stay in the race?

Matt Daniels wrote on August 21, 2013 at 3:08 pm
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Hey Ryan,

Illinois is in good position when it comes to Cliff Alexander. Alexander has official visits lined up to Arizona, Kansas, Memphis, Louisville and DePaul.

Notice Michigan State isn't in that list, but that doesn't mean the Spartans are out of the picture with Alexander. Same goes for Illinois. John Groce and his staff have done all they can to get into Alexander's final few choices and trying to promote the idea of Alexander coming to Illinois to be the guy. For at least a year before he likely bolts for the NBA.

Alexander seems to enjoy the recruiting process, so I wouldn't expect a decision from him until early November or perhaps late spring if he decides to wait that long before deciding. Illinois is still in the Alexander race.

Bill-e-bob wrote on August 21, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Earlier this summer, I took you to say in one of these chats that players in "non-revenue" sports (i.e., sports that are not men's football or men's basketball), like volleyball or soccer, do not typically get four-year scholarships?  Did I understand this correctly?  Is there a standard recruiting "offer" in these sports?  Do some players, at least, get full 4 year offers? How many overall scholarships per year does Coach Hambly (say) have?  Can you clarify the process in these sports more fully?  Thanks in advance.

Matt Daniels wrote on August 21, 2013 at 3:08 pm
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Hey Bill-e-Bob,

Sorry for the delay. Had to take a few phone calls.

To my understanding, football, men's basketball, women's basketball and volleyball are given full-ride scholarships. Every other sport is an equivalency sport when it comes to scholarships, which allow the head coach to decide how much of a scholarship to offer up to a player. 

Some players might get a larger scholarship chunk than others in these non-revenue sports. It just depends on the recruit.

As far as I know, there is still the standard offer usually doled out in the revenue sports, but the athlete and coach work out the terms of the scholarship money.

Matt Daniels wrote on August 21, 2013 at 3:08 pm
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Thanks for the questions. Going to wrap up this week's chat. Need anything else, email me at or ask me on Twitter (@mdaniels_ng).

Have a good rest of your Wednesday everyone!