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Beat writer Marcus Jackson chats at 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Submit questions of any kind at any time.
Good afternoon and thanks for taking the time to check out another Illinois basketball chat. Have you all gotten enough sleep this week? I know a lot of you have been up late waiting for news of a potential Quentin Snider commitment. Looks like we might have to continue paying attention for at least a few more days.
Plenty of questions today (once again, a bunch about Ahmad Starks). I'll be here for about the next hour or so to answer as many as I can.
Hey Marcus, how likely is it that Starks gets a waiver because I'm getting worried he'll be taken a scholarship away from Snider or ever Alexander if he doesn't. Is there anything Groce can do to still give a scholarship to either of them if there's no waiver for Starks. Of course one of them would have to chose Illinois for this to be a problem.
It went from the feeling being overwhelmingly positive that he would get the waiver, to the odds being 50-50 at best. That's because of some of the other decisions that have come down across the country similar to Starks'. Guys we thought were getting waivers ended up not getting them, so no one knows for certain what's going to happen with Starks. Again, with all due respect, fans worry more about scholarship numbers than the folks who get paid very handsomely to make sure everything works out. The coaching staff, from last year to now, maintains that everything usually works out, and most of the time it does. Who knew at this time last year that four guys would decide to leave the program? If Snider and Alexander want to come to Illinois, they will have spots. I don't know how it's going to happen, or what's going to happen, but I'm sure it'll work itself out.
A couple related questions:
1) I've heard the NCAA allows teams to over sign by 1. Is this true?
If so, and the Starks waiver is not approved, and the Illini land Snider, and come November everyone who is supposed to sign does, where does that put the Illini on their scholarship numbers?
Now, if the Starks waiver is approved, and we land Snider, and everyone who is supposed to sign does, where does that put our scholarship numbers?
Finally, assume that last situation happens and Cliff wants to come. At which point do we tip, and oversign by more than one, and then technically can not accept any more players?
Basically, I'm looking for the most legal (by NCAA standards) way to land the most possible recruits in our dream scenario, which I consider to be Alexander, Black, Snider, Finke.
Yeah, I want this to happen.
If Starks is granted the waiver and Quentin Snider commits, then Illinois is booked for the '14 class. If he doesn't get the waiver and Snider commits, Illinois is over the limit of 13 by one scholarship.
You're not going to have to worry about anything with regards to Cliff Alexander because he likely won't sign until April. By then, we'll obviously know the situation with Starks. Who knows what else will happen between now and then. Someone might be unhappy and leave. We'll just have to let it all play out.
Thanks for the chat!
Once Groce becomes settled at Illinois do you think he will start to schedule a better non-conference home basketball schedule?
I don't think it's a matter of him being settled, more than it's a matter of having a team that can handle a schedule featuring tougher opponents. Even if the team is a preseason Top-25 or Top-15 team, I wouldn't expect more than one big-name opponent at home in the nonconference. That's just the way it works around the country. Every other year, you're going to have an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game at home, which would fit that criteria. More often than not, the United Center game is going to be a quality opponent, too. I know everyone wants to play tougher name opponents at home, but you can't forget the nine Big Ten home games. Those are great teams most of the time. Illinois isn't the only program that plays a soft nonconference slate at home.
When can a resolution on Ahmad Starks be expected? Love to see him added to the mix for this upcoming season. That will help ease the transition for the freshman guards and could be a difference maker in producing wins. Is it true he has memorized every line of every episode of Hogans Heroes?
No idea when the Starks situation will be finalized. Only the NCAA knows that at this point. We were initially told 6-8 weeks, but that was back in May. He'd be a great addition to this year's team and would make it better, there's no doubt.
Today's his 21st birthday, by the way.
Not sure about the Hogan's Heroes bit. I'll have to dig into that. I've never seen an episode, personally.
What are you thinking about Nnanna this season? My impression is that he has really hit the weights and could really be a force, scoring 14-18 ppg. I also am impressed that he and Tracy will really step into leadership roles for the team.
Illini Fan out here where the Pat barely slipped by the Bills
I think Nnanna will take another leap like he did from his freshman to sophomore year, but to say he's a 14-18 ppg guy might be asking too much. He's more like an 8-11 ppg guy, but that doesn't mean he's not going to be a valuable piece. He's a guy that doesn't have a ton of plays called for him, but can clean up on the glass to score some buckets and can alter things in the paint on the defensive end. He and Tracy will both be leaders on the court this season. They've come a long way in that regard and have taken ownership of this team.
few questions here.
Most important. What is the deadline that we here back about Starks' waiver? I'd assume we'd have to hear before Oct 17 (Orange and Blue game) or even earlier, the end of this month (before start of official practices)? Obviously nobody knows when in that frame we'll hear besides the NCAA, but I figure there's an end to the wait soon?
Whats the latest on timeline for a Cliff decision? Do we know if we are looking at an early signing period decision from Big Cliff or an April decision, be it to us or anywhere else?
Any insider news on the preseason event?
What are your thoughts on our non-con schedule? Am I right to be concerned about a potentially bad SOS this year for non-con play, seeing as our OOC success landed us a tourney bid last year? I just don't see UNLV or Oregon amounting to very much this year. Not to say that either will suck, but I see bubble teams there, and GT and Mizzou aren't really top quality teams either as were Gonzaga and Butler in our non con last year.
There is no hard deadlines set for these situations. They don't have to be done by Oct. 17. There have been eligibility situations resolved after the date of the first game in the past.
There's a very strong possibility that Cliff won't make a decision until after the early signing period, so this could possibly go into the spring. Andrew Wiggins didn't snnounce last year until May.
There are ideas being tossed around for a preseason event, which would include something on Green Street, but that's in the very early stages and it'll be a few weeks before anything is decided.
I wouldn't worry about the schedule. Some publications say Oregon will be a Top 20 team in the preseason and could potentially be in the Top 10 by Dec. 14 when Illinois plays the Ducks in Portland. UNLV will be solid and more than anything else, playing and beating teams away from home is a big deal with the NCAA selection committee. Beating Oregon and UNLV will be the equivalent of beating Gonzaga and Butler last year. And at the time, no one expected much at all of last year's Butler squad. Beating Missouri this year, regardless of how good the Tigers are, will be better than losing to them last year.
Hi Marcus, Is Joe B. 100% recovered from his shoulder surgery? I heard Aaron C. had hernia surgery recently, is this true & how is his recovery coming along? Any other injuries? Thanks for all your "insider info."
Wrote about Joe and Cosby recently. Joe is 100 percent. He's taking part in all team activities.
It's true that Cosby had hernia surgery. He's just about 100 percent, just getting back into shape. No reason to rush him along, however, since he won't be playing this year. Everyone else, to my knowledge, is and has been healthy.
I know very little about Quinton Snider, other than he is a big recruit that has decommitted from Louisville. Can you tell us a little bit about him personally, and from a player stats side?
Snider is the type of point guard that Groce and his staff have been looking for since they got to Illinois. He's a floor general, a true PG in every sense of the word. He can handle it, he can pass, he can shoot. He gets guys to where they're supposed to be. His best attribute is his pace. He's got a great feel for the tempo of the game, knows when to push it and when to back off. He averaged about 17 points and five assists last year. He could stand to get a little bit stronger, but most high school players can.
Thanks for the great coverage!
If Snider commits do you think that would sway Cliff one way or another and cause him to take notice?
Marcus - Monument
Great name, by the way.
If anything, it would sway him more toward Illinois. Everything would be in place for the Illini to be successful in his first, and likely only, season at Illinois. Quentin Snider commiting to Illinois would not hurt when it comes to Cliff Alexander.
"The must get" - everyone has an opinion on the meaning. I tend to believe a "must get" is a player that will transcend your basketball program. One that could make a team a national title contender.
I've read laughable posts on message boards stating Larry Austin was a "must get" - all due respect to Larry Austin, huh, no!
Players like Cliff Alexander, Carlton Bragg, Charles Matthews, Quentin Snider, and Diamond Stone are "must gets!"
What is your opinion on this, Marcus?
Thanks for your time and patience.
Can't argue with anything you said. Must gets can vary from program to program, though. For instance, one program might be in desperate need of a role-playing combo guard, making Larry Austin a must-get for them.
But, for the most part, what you said was spot on.
I know it's been talked about before, but I think Groce's detailed, specifically tailored approach to hosting officials and making in-home visits might be his biggest strength. While that sounds elementary thing to do in recruiting, what we hear about Groce's approach makes it sound like this is another area where he's above and beyond most head coaches as a recruiter. Scott Snider had interesting quotes in a Jeff Borzello article on CBSSports yesterday about how Groce SHOWED Snider how they'd use him in his offense, and "step by step how they would develop him." Showed him 15-month before and after weight room work current players have done. And I can only imagine this is the tip of iceberg.
His ability- and the ability of the staff he's put together- to forge bonds and relationships with recruits and their families has been oft-discussed and rightfully so, but I'd like to hear your thoughts on his detailed, specifics-oriented approach to recruiting. Kids and their parents/other adult advisors are more hip to the game these days than ever before, and it seems like Groce's ability to show his work sets him apart from a lot of guys.
I think the things Borzello wrote are the same things most of the elite-level coaches/recruiters do when selling a prospect on their program. So, from that standpoint, Groce isn't much different than the rest.
What sets him apart, in my opinion, is just his personality and his ability to connect with a player and his family. It's not just Groce, but the whole staff. Sending Leron Black Bible verses every morning, pronouncing Jahlil Okafor's name the right way, knowing things about their siblings, those are little things, but they matter to a kid and his parents when you're talking about potentially sending your kid to spend the next four years with someone.
There's not one thing I can pinpoint, but I just think it's acombination of little things that people notice that make him stand out. If you've ever spent time around the staff, it would make a little more sense.
I love the talk of adding Q Snider, and I hope we do, but where does that leave Jaylon Tate?
It leaves him in a position of having to compete for playing time, something he's going to have to do regardless of whether Quentin Snider is on the roster or not.
I forgot to mention something earlier with regards to the strength of schedule. Six Big Ten teams will be ranked in the preseason Top 25 and winning some of those games will also help the NCAA tournament resume.
Marcus - A couple of hypothetical questions - Illiniois and college basketball are run like the NBA and you are the Illini's general manager. First question, it's your turn to draft and Quentin Snyder and Tyler Ulis are both on the board. Which one do you draft? Second question, you have the "rights" to Snider and Leron Black and the team drafting can draft Cliff Alexander, but only for one year. Do you trade having Snider and Black for 3 or 4 years for Alexander (or Okafor) for one year? I think the second question, in my opinion, is an easy no.
Between Snider and Ulis? I'd take Snider, only because there aren't many 5-8, 145-pound guards in the NBA. I'd take Snider and Black for 3-4 years as opposed to Alexander for one. Unless you think the other parts you have to go along with Alexander can win it all in that one year. Most programs and franchises are built to be consistent over the long haul.
Could you please explain how a team is chosen/selected into a pre-season tourny? Is it up to the NCAA, the team or both? How does Illinois go from The Maui Invitational (which they won) to a round-robin of super low quality teams? I would think that winning the Maui tourny should give UI the opportunity to play in another big named tournament this year. Frustrating...
It has nothing to do with the NCAA. It's a combination of the tournament organizers, the sponsors and the schools themselves. The tournaments reach out to programs they feel would help fill the arenas, boost TV ratings and would be competitive on the court. And coaches also want to select tournaments or events they feel would benefit their team. It wouldn't make sense for Illinois to go to one of those big-name events this year because they're not expected to be very good. You don't want to put yourself in a situation to fail.
Illinois winning Maui last year doesn't have much bearing on anything this year because of the turnover in the roster. D.J. Richardson and brandon Paul are gone, so you're not dealing with the same team that won the tournament last year.
Love your work! I'm not exactly sure of the rules behind scholarships, but In the rare circumstance that Snider commits and Alexander wants to come to UI, would the coaching staff have the ability to drop a scholarship(s)? I know this would look terrible but John Groce and his staff are employed to bring a championship to UI to the best of their ability and acquiring those two at any costs would be hard to argue.
They'd have the ability to do whatever they want, though they wouldn't start cutting guys. It would look terrible and it's why so many people have been all over Tom Crean the last few years, for what they feel is running guys off. Crean may or may not have bene doing that, but players know what's going on and if they see that someone's coming in who they feel will take up a big chunk of their playing time, they will elect to go somewhere else for a better opportunity. That's why you've seen so many transfers the last few years. Guys want to go somewhere where they can play the minutes they feel they deserve.
All you can do is be honest with players about their roles for the future and it's up to them whether they're OK with that.
Any word from the SNIDERS ?
Not as of now. Right now, they're planning to make the trip to Michigan State this weekend.
I've got to get going, thanks for all the questions today. I missed a few, but those were mostly covered in answers to other questions. If anything big happens on the recruiting trail, check back here, we'll be all over it.