Oct. 23 college basketball chat

Oct. 23 college basketball chat

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 12:30pm

Beat writer Marcus Jackson chats at 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Be the first to ask about Cliff Alexander's weekend visit by submitting questions ahead of time.

Marcus Jackson wrote on October 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Good afternoon, thanks for taking the time to stop by for another illinois basketball chat. This must be Cliff Alexander Week. Looking like we've got a lot of questions asking about the Top 5 forward who will be on campus this weekend. Big time for John Groce, Paris parham and Co. I'll be here for about an hour taking your questions.

Anonymous User wrote on October 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I have seen that Joey King's waiver to play right away for Minnesota was approved by the NCAA.  The only reason I can find is that it was due to "family reasons".  Do you know the real reason and how it differs from Starks transferring from Oregon State?  Plus he only moved from Des Moines, Iowa to Minneapolis.

Marcus Jackson wrote on October 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I don't know what King's reasons for transferring for, but I'd assume a sick family member or something like that. He's from the Twin Cities, so that's the difference between his case and Starks'. He's a few miles from home. Starks is more than 100 from home.

JJaQuan wrote on October 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm


Does Illinois have any chance of beating McKendree Thursday night?

Marcus Jackson wrote on October 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm


If not, you've got big, big problems. They're transitioning from NAIA to NCAA Division II. They've got a local product in Monticello's Matt Kruse. Also, an alum of Cliff Alexander's school (Jeremy Price).

Timothy Paul wrote on October 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm


Kansas may seem to be the leader to some people for Cliff Alexander, but John Groce can recruit with the best of them. So with that said could Groce do with Cliff what he did with Quintin when he came to visit. Which is change his mind toward Illinois from another school he may be leaning towards.

           Thanks Timothy

Marcus Jackson wrote on October 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm


That's the idea. I've said all along, though I thought Kansas has been the leader, that Illinois would be there until the end. Getting Cliff on campus and getting the full-court press from, John Groce and staff can leave a lasting impression on a kid. We will still have about three weeks between the time Cliff leaves campus and when he makes his decision, so we'll see what that does for things. Illinois' approach is all about relationship and showing the player how he will develop on and off the court here. If that matters to Cliff, Illinois will have more than a shot.

Almost Famous wrote on October 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Okay, What in your mind, does JFG and all that Illinois has to offer Cliff, have to do to change his mind about Kansas? How can JFG keep the kid home to play in front of the home town fans? What is thee thing or things that can persuade him? We already know that he and mom love JFG, we already know that mom probably would like to see him stay close so that the family can watch him play. What is it that Cliff needs from Illinois to stay home and don the orange and blue?

Marcus Jackson wrote on October 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm


The thing that's been pitched to Cliff and will be reiterated is the chance to come to Illinois and be the main attraction. Kansas can't say that and I think that means something to Cliff. He's remained at the same high school throughout his career, one that's not considered to be one of the serious powers in Chicago. He could have gone anywhere else and competed for state titles, but he wanted to do his own thing. And in doing that, he's established himself as one of the premier players in the country. Coming to illinois could be the same type of thing, though he'll be surrounded by a group of players that could make some real noise here. He'll likely only be in college for one year, so having an opportunity to win in that one year is a plus.

Gus wrote on October 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Hi MJ,

In a summary (if possible) can you please explain the boundaries that John Groce and his staff must stay in when Alexander visits this weekend?  Are they allowed to spend monetary assets on him? If so, how much?  What can and can't they do? Legally that is...

Marcus Jackson wrote on October 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm


They can pay for Cliff and his family's travel expenses to Illinois and provide housing. They can provide meals at a "reasonable" rate and whichever player Alexander spends his social time with on campus is provided about $30 for entertainment purposes. They can take Cliff and his family to the football game on Saturday. I think this is an old rule, but it's still in place, they can't take him around in a limo or helicopter, nothing extreme like that. They'll show him around campus, meet with academic folks and those in the athletic department. Hope that was somewhat helpful.

MikeM wrote on October 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Hey, MJ. Big-picture question here to mix it up, but semi-germane to Illini hoops with a mega-recruit in town this weekend. For many reasons the idea of paying college athletes (among other desires for wide-scale changes to the NCAA and structure of college sports in general, including the tragic- yes, tragic- end of EA's NCAA Football series) seems to be coming to a tipping point. My proposal: decriminalize extra benefits. The harsh reality of college sports is that the athletes are the most replacable part of it. For probably 99 percent of scholarship athletes- and probably close to that number just in revenue sports alone, for that matter- a scholarship is pretty fair, if not generous market value for what they provide.

But if Johnny Manziel can make money off of his name for an autograph signing, I say let him. If Andrew Wiggins does a photo shoot for GQ, let him get paid for it. Obviously this idea would present logistical issues: how do you stop a booster bidding war, etc. But those are already obviously problems under the current rules that try to enforce the antiquated idea of the "student athlete" (and if anyone wants an eye-opener on why they should never use that asinine term, look up its origins).

While I don't have the legal expertise to hammer out any sort of functional proposal on this, I was curious what your thoughts would be on letting college athletes make money off their own personal brand if there's anything to be made from it.



Marcus Jackson wrote on October 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm


I feel you on the EA Sports game. That's a must-get for me every year.

I've gone back and forth on this the last few months and I'm still not sure where I stand on the issue. I was once a scholarship athlete and if EIU was selling No.8 baseball jerseys around town, I would have felt like I deserved something from that. They weren't, though, I went to school for free and I feel like that was fair. My parents certainly appreciate it. No one was making any money off of me.

We see the numbers of the bowl deals and the NCAA tournament and the television contracts and they're in the tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars. Coaches and administrators are getting rich, but a lot of that money goes to fund the non-revenue generating sports, like baseball. So I'm OK with that.

This isn't what you're asking, though. You're saying if Joseph Bertrand can get paid for signing an autofraph, should he be able to? I say yes. If there's a great musician or artist on campus, he or she can do that and continue doing what they do with no penalties. Why can't a basketball player?

I'm not sure I've got it all figured out either, and there are great arguments on both sides. I'm interested to see how this all evolves.

Gus wrote on October 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Me again!

Let's talk scenario.  If the light of the basketball Gods shines down on UI and Alexander signs with the Illini, that would make the 4, 5 and even 3 spots very very deep.  If for some unexplainable reason all of the big men stay, that would leave the following:

Egwu, Morgan, Paul, Colbert, Black, Finke, Alexander (am I missing anyone?)

Can you list which position you see each of the big men spending most of their time in the 2014-2015 season?

Trying to get an idea of how versatile these guys are/can be.

Marcus Jackson wrote on October 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm


Right now, Maverick Morgan is strictly a 5. Nnanna Egwu and Darius Paul can rotate at the 4 and the 5. Austin Colbert is a 4, but he's going to see some time at the 5 this year. Leron Black is a 3-4 guy, Finke is probably just a 4 and Alexander is a 4 first and can play some 5. With some development, he can play the 3. So, really what you've got is a bunch of bigs who can play different spots and playing time is going to come down to who's playing the best at a particular time. It's a good problem to have.

Anonymous User wrote on October 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm


Thanks for the chats. You provide great insight into our Illini basketball team.

Do you see Groce developing a team of interchangeable parts much like the '89 team?

It seems that, even with the Point/Lead Guard position, guys are going to have the ability to play in different positions and create from different spots. I think the greater flexibility we have on the roster the more dangerous we become. I guess the danger becomes a lack of recognition of what is needed based on the personnel already on the floor (do I play more on the wing or inside? Facilitator or shooter?).

Marcus Jackson wrote on October 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm

He talked about that a couple of weeks ago and if guys develop at a good enough pace, he'd like to be able to take advantage of the versatility. The thing is, though, with so many freshmen, that might take some time. He really wants guys to master one position before entertaining the idea of teaching him another position. For example, Malcolm Hill can probably play the 2, 3 and 4. But you teach him the 3, make sure he gets comfortable there and then you can bring him along at one of the other spots so he can be more valuable. We might begin to see guys moving around as the season progresses and they get solid at their primary positions.

DonD wrote on October 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Does Illinois really have any chance of landing big Cliff? My heart says we do, but my gut says no. I think we just lack that cool factor that he probably sees at Kansas. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Marcus Jackson wrote on October 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm


I think they do, I've always felt they were always one of the major players in his recruitment. The good news is if he doesn't end up at Illinois, you likely won't have to see him in the Big Ten as I don't see Michigan State among the favorites anymore. I think it's Kansas, Illinois and Memphis. The Illinois staff will put its best foot forward this weekend to really give him something to think about. Adding the committed players in the 2014 class along with the 2013 class makes Illinois much more attractive destination for a guy like Alexander. He'd be a monumental get, but you're still in good shape if he decides to go elsewhere.

Hubert wrote on October 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm


Welcome back. Can't wait for this basketball season to get underway.

My question is will John Groce leave Illinois if a better gig comes along?



Marcus Jackson wrote on October 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm


I know Illinois fans are sensitive to losing their coach because you've been burned in the past, but I say pump the brakes a little bit. Groce has only been here for one year and though the recruiting seems to really be rolling, he's still got some things to accomplish before you have to really worry. I remember a couple years into the Ron Zook era, hearing some of the same chatter when he was bringing in big-time classes. Look how that turned out. Now, by no means am I saying Groce is Ron Zook and I'm not saying he won't be successful. I think he's going to win big here, but let it happen first. My gut tells me even if he becomes wildly successful that he'll be here for a while. I could be wrong, but that's just the sense I get.

Marcus Jackson wrote on October 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Thanks again for all the questions, that's going to be all for today. Remember tomorrow's exhibition opener against McKendree, we'll be there and I'll have a Live Report going about an hour before the game or so. I'll talk to you all then.