May 10 Illinois basketball chat

May 10 Illinois basketball chat

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - 12:30pm

What are the priorities moving forward for Brad Underwood as the new Illinois coach fills out his roster? When is the next evaluation period? Who starts next season for the Illini? Any idea when the 2017-18 schedule might come out? Beat writer Scott Richey is chatting at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, but feel free to hit him up with questions beforehand.

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm
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Good afternoon everybody. With several questions already waiting for me, this looks to be another good offseason Illinois basketball chat. Of course, there's still plenty up in the air about the 2017-18 season — especially when it comes to the roster — so I'm not surprised there's strong interest into what Brad Underwood and Co. are doing.

Let's get to it ...

teachdacc2 wrote on May 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Tanks for the chats.  With DJ transferring do you see any additions to fill the squad or will the Illini play short handed? Do you see Coach Underwood changing to more control game(hope not)?  Will this impact future Simeon commits?  

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm
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teachdacc2,

I'm pretty sure Brad Underwood is going to add players to the roster for the 2017-18 season. Technically, Illinois has enough guys with nine scholarship players and four walk-ons, but depth is an issue — particulalry in the post. I wrote this for today's N-G, but Illinois needs some Michael Finke/Leron Black insurance for those worst case scenarios (i.e. injuries). 

Regardless of who's on his roster, I don't think Underwood changes his basic philosophy. After all, guard depth isn't an issue. Putting the reins on those athletes wouldn't make sense when that's where the strength of the team lies at the moment.

Finally, I don't know if D.J. Williams transferring will have any effect on theoretical future Simeon grads that might end up at Illinois. Every player/situation is unique.

Roundball wrote on May 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Are you willing to play small for the 2017-18 season or do you have someone you think you can fill the 5 with? Are you still in conversations with the Tilmon camp?

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm
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Roundball,

Me personally? I don't have a lot of say when it comes to Illinois basketball and decision making. Brad Underwood, though, has played small before. His Stephen F. Austin team that beat West Virginia in the 2016 NCAA tournament did so with a lineup that topped out at 6-foot-5. Having a little more size in the Big Ten, however, wouldn't hurt. Who that might be is still the question.

Again, personally, I reached out to Jeremiah Tilmon in early April when he requested and then got his NLI release. I didn't hear back. As far as the Illinois coaches go, I would say that door is still open. What comes of that, however, is still up in the air.

myattitude wrote on May 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm

I believe men's basketball has 13 scholarships while the women get 15. Do you know of any reason for the inequity and whether there has been any talk of eliminating the difference? Do you sense that women athletes in all the sports are more likely to transfer than the men? The reasons seem to be different as the women usually have fewer professional opportunities.

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm
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myattitude,

I can probably give one reason for the "inequity" you see in women's basketball having two more scholarships than men's basketball. That would be the 85 scholarships for an FBS football team. As far as I'm aware, there's been no discussion to increase the number of scholarships for men's basketball.

Just using basketball as a standard for your second question, considering more than 700 men's basketball players transferred last year and nearly 600 have done so this year, I wouldn't say female athletes are more likely to transfer than male. Do female athletes transfer? Sure. Clearly, though, male athletes are just as likely to do the same.

As for reasons for transfers, I'd say there's a multitude that crosses gender lines. 

EmilD wrote on May 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Go ILLINI  !! Any word if Tillman is leaning one way or the other? And any chance of landing a true center for this year or next, or does Coach Underwood prefer big power forwards?

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm
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EmilD,

It's been pretty much radio silence on Jeremiah Tilmon since he got his NLI release from Illinois a month ago. The fact he hasn't signed elsewhere leaves the door open for any program at this point, although the ones reported to be involved haven't really changed ... Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and North Carolina.

From speaking with Brad Underwood and the Illinois assistants, they seem to be fully on board with "position-less" basketball. Versatility is a big thing for them. Even more than that, I think, is finding basketball players that do at least one thing really well. For a big man that might be rebounding or defending the rim or finishing at the basket or stretching the floor. A "true" center could be many things these days.

Based on the players Illinois is targeting, though, there seems to be one main criteria — they've got to be long and athletic. That goes for any position.

Cards wrote on May 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm

On a scale of 1-10, what number would you give Jeremiah Tilmon returning to Illinois?

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm
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Cards,

Let's say 5 because he either will or he won't, and I'm honestly not sure what direction Jeremiah Tilmon's recruitment ends up going.

Tim Edy Jorgenson wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Read the revamp - great stuff.  Can you tell us more about the Mark Alstork and Brazdeikis or any other graduate transfers visiting or possibly signing to play next year?

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm
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Tim Edy Jorgenson,

Appreciate the kind words on today's N-G hoops content. I'll break down the three guys mentioned in it a little more ...

Mark Alstork — All those minutes played by Malcolm Hill the last two years (and the production from it)? Alstork would help fill what is going to be a significant void with Hill graduating this weekend. A 6-foot-5 guard, Alstork put 19 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season at Wright State while also shooting 39 percent from three-point range. In terms of a few more advanced stats, his .550 true shooting percentage from 2016-17 is considered "very good" and he ranked 12th in the country in fouls drawn per 40 minutes and shot 85 percent from the free throw line on 208 attempts. 

Ignas Brazdeikis — I got a chance to watch Brazdeikis a couple weekends ago in EYBL action in Indiana. He's a good athlete, can score on all three levels and rebounds pretty well. He currently ranks fifth in the EYBL in scoring at 23 points per game (behind monster recruits like Marvin Bagley III and Bol Bol) and also adds 7.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. The only "knock" is he's not the 6-8 he's listed at. Probably closer to 6-6. Still skilled, just not 6-8. His case is interesting because he could reclassify to 2017, but when I talked with him in Indiana he said he was leaning more toward staying in 2018. A full EYBL season might change that. We'll see.

Akoy Agau — The Georgetown grad transfer would add some size at Illinois, and he has a Big Ten ready body at 6-8 and 235 pounds. He was a top 100, four-star recruit when he signed with Louisville. He transfered to Georgetown after playing just three games at Louisville as a sophomore and sat out all of the 2015-16 season (he would have been eligible at midseason) after a preseason injury. So, he hits the transfer market with at least one year of eligibility but possibly two. He averaged 4.6 points and 4.5 rebounds in 2016-17 in just more than 15 minutes per game at Georgetown.

Anonymous User wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm

I have been trying to find out how Chin Coleman got his nickname, with no luck. I know he's had it since childhood, but do you know how he got it?

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm
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Anonymous,

He brought up "Chin" when he spoke with the media last week, but he didn't go into any more details about it other than it was a childhood nickname. I'll have more from Coleman in Sunday's News-Gazette, including a funny story about his nickname from his start at Colorado State under Tim Miles.

Guy Mann wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm

A question on NCAA basketball recruiting: is a student-athlete required to have a qualifying test score (ACT or SAT) before signing a Letter Of Intent?

Thanks in advance.

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm
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Guy Mann,

I'm not an NCAA bylaws expert, of course, but from what I've read, in order to be eligible to sign a NLI a prospective student-athlete has to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center first. Part of that eligibility process is to have on file a core course GPA (must take 16 core courses) that corresponds with an ACT or SAT on the sliding scale. The higher the GPA, the lower the test score can be.

I'm sure it's more complicated than that, though. Everything about the NCAA is.

Anonymous User wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Hi Scott,

Hoping things are going well with you. I have been looking at the Vball spring games reported as highlights on FightingIllini.com and cannot tell if Kaylin Korte is still playing. Do you know?

i believe I can beginning seeing Coach Tamas's style. Very excited.

best wishes,

naplesIllini

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm
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naplesIllini,

Kaylin Korte did participate in the spring season for Illinois, but will transfer for the 2017 season from what I've seen. Nothing has been officially announced by Illinois or Clemson, where she is reportedly headed.

IlliniFansinceTheSpoon wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Hey Scott,

Now that K-nox signed with K-tuck, do you think Tillmon is waiting on the younger Porter's decision for the last scholly at Mizzou? Could Tillmon still be undecided?

Mins. are there for the taking with the Illini, or has the BB staff moved on from Tillmon?

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm
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IlliniFansinceTheSpoon,

I can honestly say I'm unsure of the reason Jeremiah Tilmon remains uncommited/unsigned. There has been very new about his recruitment since he received his NLI release from Illinois. If Jontay Porter opted to reclassify to 2017 — no timetable for that decision yet — he would take Missouri's final open scholarship for 2017-18.

As I mentioned in an earlier answer, I would say the door remains open for Tilmon at Illinois. Who knows what happens, though.

Justin Wat29 wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm

What is the progress with Aaron Jordan ,we need him this year but Ayo is on the way  is this a do or die Year for him at Illinois ?

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm
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Justin Wat29,

Aaron Jordan got more playing time last season than D.J. Williams. It wasn't much, but it was more. He has potential as a defender (long arms) and a shooter (hasn't shown that enough by making shots). If Jordan remains at Illinois for 2017-18, which I will believe is happening unless there's real news otherwise, he's in for the long haul. You typically don't see players transfer after their junior season to sit one, play one. 

Jordan's status, I would say, has nothing to do with Ayo Dosunmu. They don't play the same position, etc.

Anonymous User wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Any idea what is going on with Tilmon?  Why wouldn't he have announced where he will be attending next year?  Any thoughts on how Underwood will use his remaining 2017 scholarships?

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm
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Anonymous,

Nothing new on the Jeremiah Tilmon front. Only thing I could do would be to speculate on the reason he hasn't committed or signed anywhere. Maybe he hasn't decided where he's going. Also, he doesn't have to decide on anyone else's timetable other than his own.

I do have some thoughts on how Brad Underwood might use his four remaining scholarships for 2017-18. In fact, I wrote about that in today's News-Gazette. Check it out here.

Matt B. wrote on May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Who do you see as the most likely prospects to round out the 2017-18 roster?  How many scholarship will be rolled over to the 2018 class?  Has there been any update on Obadiah Toppin?

 

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 2:05 pm
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Matt B.,

There's really no telling who might be added to Illinos' 2017-18 roster. The Illini are getting visits from grad transfers Mark Alstork and Akoy Agau. The grad transfer route is probably preferrable given some top targets in the Class of 2018. If it's not Alstork or Agau, it could be players that haven't even been discussed yet. Maybe Brad Underwood goes international. Both he and Orlando Antigua brought that up as an option.

However it shakes out (rolled over scholarships or ones that come open with a grad transfer or two added this summer), I would say Illinois probably shoots to have at least three open scholarships for 2018. That lets Underwood hit all three areas (point guard, wing, big).

Still not much out there in the way of Obadiah Toppin. He's visited Rhode Island and Dayton and has reported interest still in Illinois and Mississippi State.

 

Illini in Indy wrote on May 10, 2017 at 2:05 pm

What is going on with Tlm Finke. Are the coaches still wanting him to come to Illinois. Thanks

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 2:05 pm
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Illini in Indy,

Illinois is still recruiting Tim Finke. Brad Underwood had an in-home visit a few weeks ago and watched him play in the second EYBL session in Indiana. So did Orlando Antigua. From speaking with Finke, he likes Underwood and the new coaching staff. 

Of course, Illinois isn't the only team after the Champaign Central guard. Vanderbilt is after him hard, and Roger Powell Jr. watched him multiple times in Indiana (sometimes with Bryce Drew). He told me Oregon, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh are also recruiting him the most.

Anonymous User wrote on May 10, 2017 at 2:05 pm

With the four open scholarships, do you see the coaching staff reaching back out to Pickett?  Do you have any other news on his recruitment? His style of play seems to fit the Underwood system, why not give him a second look?

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 2:05 pm
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Anonymous,

I would say Javon Pickett ending up back at Illinois is unlikely. The Illini wouldn't be going after a guy like Mark Alstork (same position) if there was much of a chance they'd reach back out to Pickett. Alstork, for example, would only take up a year's worth of scholarship space. That spot would open back up for 2018 where Brad Underwood has offered a slew of mostly bigger wings.

After getting his NLI release from Illinois, Pickett got offers from Saint Louis, Western Kentucky and Bradley. There hasn't been much more movement since mid-April.

Scott Richey wrote on May 10, 2017 at 2:05 pm
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Another good offseason chat everybody. Thanks for all the questions. I imagine there will be plenty more to keep discussing as the spring progresses considering those four open scholarships. So we'll do this again next week. Same time, same place.

Until then, enjoy the week!