Oct. 2 college hoops chat

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 12:30pm

Beat writer Marcus Jackson chats at 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Ask questions of any kind at any time and he'll do his best to respond.

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:27 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

Good afternoon, thanks for spending some time here today for another Illinois basketball chat. One of the more frequently asked questions of the last couple of months was finally answered with the NCAA denying Ahmad Starks a hardship waiver that would have allowed him to play this season. Surely threre will be more questions about that and plenty more. I'll be here for about an hour taking your questions.

rickyb — 12:27 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

Go ahead do a dance spin around in your chair a few times this is not a question about cliff alexander my question is if u have heard anything on the progression on the 3 transfers I havent heard much about them or crandall head do you see any of those four making a big impact on the programs in which they transferred to also I read in one of the articles the other day that ali said illinois is a big player in his recruitment what kind of impact do you think he coukd have on the program coming in he seems to fit groces system well with his play style the kids highlight kinda remind me of victor olidipo super athletic and a great defender your thoughts?

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:34 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013


Thanks, but now I'm really dizzy, so I hope this answer makes some sense. Crandall is finally eligible at SMU and he's one of three transfers who will suit up for Larry Brown's squad. By all accounts, he had a good sit-out year and they're really looking forward to seeing what he can bring, he's got some skills and will be an immediate impact guy there.

Of the three guys who left after last season, Devin Langford is the only one who is eligible this year at Division II Kentucky Wesleyan. Coach Happy Osborne is thrilled to have Devin and he can have a monster year there. Mike Shaw is sitting out at Bradley and that's an environment under Geno Ford where he can be a solid contributor for two years. Ibby Djimde is at Southern Illinois and he will benefit greatly from a year off. He's got great size, but he'll really need to develop his skillset to make an impact there.

Ali would be another highly skilled guard to come in who could have a chance to do some great things in a system surrounded by other great players. He's got some serious ability and if he put in the work, he could be an impact player. Victor Oladipo worked his butt off at Indiana almost to an unhealthy obsessive degree, but it worked out pretty well for him. Not a lot of guys can pull that off.

Big Dave — 12:34 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

Most "experts" are projecting this year's Illini squad to finish 7th or 8th in the conference. Your thoughts?

Also, of the Illini assistant coaches, who is the most likely to land a head coaching position first? 

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:37 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

Big Dave,

I've said all along that I see Illinois finishing somewhere between seventh and 10th in the league, so that prediction sounds about right to me. Would have leaned toward the higher end of that with Starks, but I think they've got enough to stick in that teir.

Right now I'd go with Dustin Ford because he's got a lot of responsibility on the bench during games, helping out with the substitution patterns and making certain calls. Also, his brother is a head coach and his dad was a coach, it's something he's been around his whole life. I think they're all valuable to this staff in their own ways and all will have the opportunity down the line.

Mike 12345778 — 12:38 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

Hi Marcus,

Great writing and coverage; thanks!

Can Starks walk on, pay his own way and play this upcoming year if he chooses?

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:39 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013


Thank you. Starks could pay his own way if he wanted to, but it would do nothing to change his eligibility status. Scholarship or no scholarship, he cannot play this season.

Anonymous User — 12:39 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

There are two juniors I would like to see Groce get from the state, Aaron

Jordan and Jalen Brunson. I know Jordan has a lot of interest in

the Illini, but how much interest does Brunson have? Thanks.


Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:41 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

Aaron Jordan seems to really like Illinois. He and his dad were both wearing Illinois clothing at Saturday's Illini Street Jam. When Brunson talks about the recruiting process, he always mentions Illinois early on as a program who's stood out to him. He visited Michigan a few weeks ago and that visit really had an impact on him. Long way to go with that one.

Steve Z — 12:42 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

Hey Marcus,  Tough news on the Starks waiver, I thought he had a chance to be the 2nd most productive guard on the roster this year..  That being said any news on how Nunn has looked in workouts/practice so far??  Nunn is a great athlete but I think his limited handles and inconsistent shot need some work before he can be a consistent performer on the offensive side..  What do you think, will Nunn be more than a hign energy player his 1st year at UI??

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:45 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013


Nunn has had some really good days and he's had some days where he's struggled, typical of most freshmen. I think these six weeks they get to practice will help tremendously. He's worked on weaknesses with ball handling and they all got up plenty of shots. He's plenty good enough to contribute, it's just a matter of consistency with him and that's only going to come with playing time. With Abrams, Bertrand and Rice, though, he won't be asked to carry the load by any means, so he's got room to grow.

Anonymous User — 12:45 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

So I guess the question of the day is: Does Ahmad Starks ever suit up in Orange and Blue? What level of commitment do we have to him or was this a "marriage of convenience" (he wanted to play closer to his grandmother and we could use the experience at guard)?

I hope the kid gets to play here or somewhere and finish out his college career, but I also hope that this doesn't keep us from signing next year's talent.

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:49 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

Yes, Ahmad Starks will play basketball for Illinois next year. He's not holding up any recruiting efforts of the staff with regards to the 2014 class. Groce took Starks knowing full well there was a chance he might not be eligible immediately. He won't kick him to the curb now because of the decision.

Besides, he wouldn't be able to play next year if he transferred to another Division I school. The fifth-year transfer rule applies to players who had previously not transferred, I believe.

BrucesVocals — 12:49 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

what chances do you give Rice this of being an All 1st Big ten? I believe the only way we have a chance this year of a succesful season is if bertrand can duplicate what D.J and brandon gave us last year if not more.

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:51 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013


A first-team All-Big Ten pick? That's a bit of a reach, but I think he can have a really good season and get some sort of recognition from the league. As good as Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson were last year, neither sniffed first-team recognition. Bertrand would have to take a major leap to be counted on like those guys were, but he's gifted enough to possibly do that. He's had some unbelievable spurts, those need to be more consistent.

Anonymous User — 12:52 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

How is Mike Tisdaledoing overseas?  Will any of the ex illini be playing in the D league this year?

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:55 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

Mike isn't playing professional basketball. Last I heard, he had some back issues while trying to get his career started and it's prevented him from getting that going. D.J. Richardson is waiting to hear about some possibilities in the D-League. The draft is next week, I believe. And Mike Davis spent much of last season in the D-League and there's a good chance he'll be back.

Kevin H. — 12:57 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013


I know your going to get asked this 100 times today, but with Starks now taking up a scholarship for 2014-15, that leaves 11 guys on scholarship for next season plus the 3 incoming Finke, Black and Snider.  I know you always say scholarship situations work themselves out with guys transferring etc, but what if none of these guys budge on leaving?  Does that make it less attractive for Alexander to want to come U of I since they're already over the limit without him?

Thanks for your time

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:59 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013


Cliff Alexander isn't as worried about Illinois' scholarship situation as you all are. He knows if he picks Illinois, he won't have to worry about anything. Again, I don't know how it will work itself out, or what will need to be done to make everything fit. But there's an entire season to be played. Some one might not be happy, or whatever. We will see.

Dyno McClain — 12:59 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

No appeal of the hardship denial?  I agree with Mike Krzyzewski that transfers should be either just allowed or not.  So I guess the squad will be plenty deep for 2014/2015.   Do the transfers that are not eligible to play - so all 3 of the currently idled transfers - get to practice, train, travel, etc. the same as the eligible players?   

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:01 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013


That was the appeal. The guys not eligible this season (Starks, Paul, Cosby) can practice and lift with their teammates every day. They can do everything except travel. It's what Rayvonte Rice did last year.

BrianA — 01:01 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

Just want to make sure I am correct 

With Starks now playing next season instead of this year , Illinois is now 1 scholarship over the limit for next season at this point ? 

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:01 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013


Your math is correct.

Anonymous User — 01:01 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

This is another scholarship question.  I know you always say things usually work out in the end when it comes to scholarship numbers but now that Starks is not eligible for this year I am having a hard time seeing how things are going to work out now for next year without running some kids off.  We have three verbal commitments so far and only one scholarship to give out I believe.  And most of our current players are new so it won't be like they have been around the program for 2-3 years and are tired of it and looking for something new.  Any foreshadowing on your part on how all of this will work out would be great.  Sorry about another scholarship question.  I am sure you will be getting plenty of them.

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:05 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

Didn't realize there was any interest in scholarship numbers. You don't have any scholarships to give out right now, in fact, you're one over the limit. Maybe someone is unhappy with his role on this upcoming team or what his role might be in the future and decides to leave. Maybe someone pays his own way, there are all sorts of possibilities.

Palatine — 01:05 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

Is is possible that one of the players whose family can maybe handle one year's tuition and housing (maybe Fincke or Paul for example) and they elect to forgo their scholarship for just the 2014-2015 year to free up a scholarship?  Does the NCAA allow something like this?

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:06 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013


It's possible and it's allowable. Doug McDermott is doing that this season at Creighton after one of the Blue Jays' players was granted an unexpected extra year of eligibility.

Anonymous User — 01:06 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

Marcus, thank you for the chats.  Does the NCAA give a documented response giving the reasons for a denial of a waiver?  Seems to me there is no ryhme or reason to their decisions and I'd love to see their explanations for some of the rulings regarding waivers they've made.

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:15 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

The NCAA send information to the schools involved in these decisions, but to my knowledge, there's nothing made available to the public. There have been so many inconsistencies with these waiver requests, it's difficult to get a grasp on what the actual criteria for granting waivers is. Kerwin Okoro played at Iowa State last season. His brother died of cancer and his dad died of a stroke during a two-month span. Understandably, he wanted to get closer to home and his mom in the Bronx and transferred to Ruthers, 40 miles away. The NCAA said no and only relented after public pressure. They said no to that kid, but granted plenty of others.

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:16 PM on Wed, 10/02/2013

That's all for today. Thanks for all the questions. I'll be on WDWS tonight for SportsTalk with Steve Kelly from 5:10-6 if you've got anything else.