April 26 Illinois basketball chat

April 26 Illinois basketball chat

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 12:30pm

What's the latest on Mark Smith? What moves might Brad Underwood still have to make to shore up his first Illinois basketball roster? How did some potential Illini targets, like Champaign Central's Tim Finke, fare in the first weekend of the EYBL? Who else might be on Illinois' radar in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 classes? Beat writer Scott Richey is taking all your Illini basketball questions in the latest installment of the offseason version of his weekly chat at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. Submit your questions the Illinois way — early and often.

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm
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Good afternoon everybody. Going to knock out today's chat before heading to Edwardsville for Mark Smith's announcement. Should be able to get to all your questions, and to make sure of that let's just get right to it ... 

Anonymous User wrote on April 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Now that we have Mark Smith in the fold....using my ESP...N to forecast that, who are the most likely players to complete this recruiting class out of the following?

 

Hardy, Badocchi, Bruninga, Moore, Bragg, Wooten, Juiston or any other late likely signees with having Antigua, Coleman and Walker hitting it hard with May soon upon us? Does Tilmon come back to us?

 

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm
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Anonymous,

Your ESP...N might end up being spot on. Just 5 1/2 hours until everyone knows for sure.

Among your list of other possible targets, Taylor Bruninga (Illinois State), Charlie Moore (Kansas) and Kenny Wooten (Oregon). Amauri Hardy is reportedly being recruited the hardest by Memphis, UNLV, Georgia Tech and Arkansas. Shakur Juiston also might end up at UNLV or possibly Iowa State.

So, it looks like Carlton Bragg and Francesco Badocchi would be the last ones standing from your group. Illinois is among Bragg's five finalists and is going up against Xavier, Ohio State, Arizona State and Cincinnati. The three Ohio schools might be the biggest challenge given Bragg is from Ohio. Not much news has been out there since his finalists were reported.

Badocchi also has a Virginia offer, but it seems to be down to them and Illinois. Another player to keep an eye on is Obadiah Toppin, a 6-foot-9 forward out of New York (and a Baltimore prep school).

As far as Jeremiah Tilmon picking Illinois again? We'll see.

Danielle Bloeme wrote on April 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm

It would be awesome if Illinois landed Mark Smith for this season and Ayo Dosunmo for next. That said Illinois biggest need is for a pair of athletic bigs (centers) that can defend, rebound, block shots inside. They should be taller than 6'7" - 6'8" and be genuine bangers and intimidators. Illini have no one that fits that description on roster and would get eaten alive by other Big Ten teams inside. Question is does Illinois' coaching staff have one or two centers lined up to fill that role or will Illinois have no one that can step into that role this next season? Time is running out quickly.

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm
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Danielle,

Big guys (in the vein you're describing) can be hard to come by. Illinois is finding that out now. There aren't many ready-made Big Ten post players still available in the Class of 2017, and the grad transfer market isn't exactly swimming in them either. Illinois might be approaching "make do" territory.

That said, Michael Finke does fit the mold of a successful big in Brad Underwood's system. He's a good passer, can operate out of the high post (where Underwood bigs roam) and can obviously stretch defenses with his shooting.

 

Brian in ATL wrote on April 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Have not heard of any interest in Ed Morrow from Ilinois on the transfer market.  Not enough size to fill a need?


Thanks for the chats!

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm
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Brian in ATL,

You're right. Ed Morrow has not been tied to Illinois at any point I'm aware since he decided to leave Nebraska. Marquette, Iowa State and Pittsburgh seem to be the leaders at this point. He would be another undersized big, but like Leron Black (same size) Morrow is a heck of a rebounder. The concern about Morrow, perhaps, are the foot injuries he's suffered the past two seasons to the same foot. Persistent foot injuries are among the most troublesome basketball injuries.

Illini Fan in Denver wrote on April 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm

What can you tell us about the third assistant coach, "Chin" Coleman.  Was he an AAU coach?  Did he have a number of prospects on his team that we may be considering.  Does he have deep roots in Chicago?  Thanks for the chats.

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm
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Illini Fan in Denver,

Chin Coleman has all sorts of roots in Chicago. He played in the Public League at South Side and after his own basketball career wrapped up (college at Weber State and Lamar then professionally in NBA and CBA) returned to Chicago.

He coached on the AAU circuit with the Mac Irvin Fire from 2005-11 and also in the CPL as the associate head coach at Whitney Young. Since it's been six years since he was an AAU coach he doesn't have any prospects Illinois might be considering now, but he has strong contacts still. His time as an assistant at Bradley (where he got Josh Cunningham out of Morgan Park) and UIC only helped strengthen those ties as he recruited the city.

Bob from Normal wrote on April 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm

After watching a video of Brad Underwood explaining his offensive scheme, it appears it will work well against man to man defenses.  What will he do against a zone defense especially when they pack the middle making it hard to drive to the basket?

I was reading that 2018 target 6' 9" Silvio de Sousa out of Florida had been offered.  He is a major stud. Looks like we will have fierce compettion to get him.  What are our realisitic chances of getting him?

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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Bob from Normal,

There are a few tried and true methods for any offense against a zone defense: Attack the gaps, use the short corner to get behind the zone and get the ball to the high post.

That last one ties in to Brad Underwood's motion offense, which has four fairly interchangeable guard spots and one big. That big operates out of the high post. Having a good passer there would come in handy against a zone.

Silvio De Sousa would be a big time get for Illinois. His highlight films feature a lot of dunking, but from more limited clips it looks like he has a pretty good mid-range jumper, too, with the potential to extend his range. But about those dunks. They're not your typical he's a big guy so he can dunk type of dunks. De Sousa is super athletic. Definitely a high flyer type. 

With Orlando Antigua seemingly leading De Sousa's recruitment, I'd say that puts Illinois in the picture. He doesn't have a ton of offers right now (Illinois, Syracuse, Miami, Maryland, Louisville, LSU and Florida). Still some pretty stiff competition, though, and Maryland is the early crystal ball leader. The Terrapins signed his Montverde and IMG teammate and fellow Angolan Bruno Fernando in the 2017 class.

 

teachdacc2 wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Scott,  AD Whitman stated we can't try to out spend Ohio State nor Michigan. What do you see as the steps necessary to make the Illini competitive with those schools as well as rest of the Big Ten?  Keep up the great chats.

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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teachdacc2,

I'd say this one is pretty straightforward. In order to keep up with the likes of Ohio State and Michigan without outspending them, Illinois has to start winning more games in football and mens' basketball. Winning develops more interest, which brings in more dollars. 

Josh Whitman's whole deal is "#WeWillWin" so eventually the two revenue sports have to start doing that.

Anonymous User wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Scott, 

If Smith chooses the Illini today, is there any chance that Tilmon comes back into picture for Illinois? Everyone assumed that he was headed to Mizzou when he decommitted but he hasn't committed to them yet either. 

Also, whats the latest on 5th years? Any big guys out there that would be a good option?

 

Thanks

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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Anonymous,

The way Jeremiah Tilmon's recruitment has played out over the last year, I wouldn't be surprised by anything at this point. If Mark Smith does pick Illinois, maybe Tilmon starts rethinking his decision. Or maybe he doesn't. The fact nothing has happened publicly (i.e. Missouri or some other program) since he got his NLI release is sort of surprising.

Wrigth State grad transfer Mark Alstork is apparently still on the Illinois radar. He's got lots of options. As far as grad transfer bigs go, I've scoured the list. There just aren't a ton of players out there I've seen that could come in and make a difference at the Big Ten level. 

 

lgrunner34 wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Hi Scott

Wanted to get your opinion on if you think the starting 5 man for next season is currently on the roster or not.

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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lgrunner34,

The longer the spring portion of the offseason plays out, the more I think Illinois' starting "center" is in fact on the roster. His name is Michael Finke. There's about zero post depth right now, however, so I sort of expect Brad Underwood and Co. to address that. Finke's a fit offensively. Defensively, though, there are some Big Ten post players that will definitely challenge the Finke/Leron Black combo as it currently stands.

larry harnly wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm

thanks for the chats.   how would you compare media accessibility for groce and underwood?   will underwood open his practices to the media?

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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Larry,

Too early to tell on the media accessiblity front. I don't need to be at every practice (or could even do that schedule wise), but I know I'm not the only media member that wouldn't mind a different tact taken in that regard compared to 100 percent closed practices under John Groce (except for two this past preseason).

Red Grange wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Has the University Board of Trustees voted to have Underwood serve as head men's basketball coach, or Fahey as women's basketball coach? And if they have not yet voted, when is that expected?

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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Red Grange,

I'm not sure if the Board of Trustees has voted yet on Brad Underwood and Nancy Fahey and the person I'd turn to for that question (our top UI reporter Julie Wurth) isn't currently in the office. 

However, as far as Underwood goes, UI Chancellor Robert Jones was involved in the hiring and the contract details were run by the board before they were agreed upon. Board approval, therefore, was seen as a mere formality. I imagine the same is true with Fahey.

Big Dave wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Is Tilmon having some trouble academically that may send him the Juco route? If Mark Smith signs with Illinois does that put the Illini in contention for other recruits who may be waiting for his commitment before they make theirs? 

Illini Basketball Fan wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Scott -

With Tilmon apparently focusing on getting his grades up and not visiting Mizzou/other schools, what's the likelihood that he choose the JC route to strengthen his academics in case this happens?

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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Big Dave & Illini Basketball Fan,

Put your questions together since they're both on the same subject. A timesaver on my part. I don't have Jeremiah Tilmon's transcript in front of me, so any thoughts on that would be speculation on my part.

I'm not an expert on the rules regarding prep schools, but Tilmon might also be able to play a postgraduate year at a place like IMG Academy in addition to the JUCO route. His recruitment remains a wait and see proposition.

Iam Notscott wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm

I understand that 17yr olds make their own school decisions for a zillion different reasons.  And I also get the Tilmon wanted out of his LOI to freely re-examine everything.  I still don't see the downside of Illinois, however. If he is planning on Missouri he is going to be 2nd banana to Porter and they had several tall freshman last year.  He'd be the man at Illinois (at least inside).  Is it possible he'll rationally look at things and pick Illinois again?

 

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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Iam Notscott,

The fact Jeremiah Tilmon hasn't made a move of any kind (that I'm aware of) since getting his NLI release is somewhat surprising. It also might leave every door open. His initial Instagram note about requesting his release said Illinois would remain in consideration. Maybe it still is. There's playing time to be had with the Illini. Nothing will surprise me at this point, though, about how his recruitment ultimately plays out.

Illini Basketball Fan wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Scott -

I am sure a lot of Illini basketball fans are eager/anxious to find out at six pm this evening of where Mark Smith will go.  Should he announce for Illinois, how much of a boost will it be on the Illini basketball ticket sales for the upcoming season?

Thanks for all you do!

 

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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Illini Basketball Fan,

There are already a lot of happy Illini fans just with the idea Mark Smith will pick Illinois today. The Illini fan base has pinned a lot of hopes on the Mr. Basketball winner. If he does pick Illinois, I think that level of excitement kicks up a notch more. Add in the fact there's a new coach, and that might give a boost to ticket sales.

Still, I think the thing that will boost ticket sales the most is wins.

Illini Basketball Fan wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Scott -

BU mentioned about recruiting on the international scene, especially for bigs.  What are some international possibilities that could come to Illinois later this year?

Thanks!

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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Illini Basketball Fan,

My knowledge of international prospects (other than a couple guys that might be selected in June's NBA draft) is limited. Brad Underwood did say he would look internationally (and signed a couple at Oklahoma State) but I haven't seen much about international prospects and Illinois unless you want to count Francesco Badocchi (who's in Kansas via Italy).

Scott Richey wrote on April 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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OK. That's a wrap on today's chat. Another solid offseason version, so thank you to everyone that submitted questions and followed along. Be sure to keep an eye here at IlliniHQ.com later today with a LIVE! Report coming from Edwardsville for Mark Smith's announcement. 

The chat will be back next week. Until then, enjoy the week!