July 12 Illinois basketball chat

July 12 Illinois basketball chat

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 12:30pm

Where are Brad Underwood and his staff going the rest of this month as recruiting picks up? How are the newcomers adjusting to summer workouts? Will Mark Smith start the first game of the season? Is the NCAA tournament in the cards for the Illini in 2018? Beat writer Scott Richey will handle any of these questions and whatever else you'd like to talk about in his 12:30 p.m. chat on Wedneday. Feel free to submit questions ahead of time.

Scott Richey wrote on July 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm
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Good afternoon everybody. It's another warm July day here in Champaign, and this week's Illinois basketball chat is just as hot. ... Well, maybe. There's at least plenty of questions waiting for me to answer. I'll tackle everything already in the queue and if there are any more incoming as many as I can in the next hour or so. The rest of my afternoon is spoken for as I try to wrap up our exhaustive UI Year in Review.

Let's get to it ...

Anonymous User wrote on July 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Seems that the three new basketball couches are fairly tall. Do you know their height?

Scott Richey wrote on July 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm
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I do, in fact, know how tall the three new Illinois basketball coaches are. The fact they all played Division I hoops helps in this regard. Just have to check out their sports-reference page.

Brad Underwood ... 6-foot-4

Orlando Antigua ... 6-foot-7

Chin Coleman ... 6-foot-4

And as a bonus, new assistant to the head coach Geoff Alexander is 6-6.

New Day wrote on July 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Do you know if they plan to redshirt Spicy G or Vesel?  If you had to take a guess give me your starting 5 and top 4 reserves.


Scott Richey wrote on July 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm
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New Day,

Never say never, you know, but possible redshirt seasons for Greg Eboigbodin and Matic Vesel won't even enter the picture until October. The way Brad Underwood has talked about Eboigbodin, praising his athleticism and ability to run the floor and rebound, I could see the freshman big man out of Nigeria (via Detroit) playing in 2017-18. Someone has to back up Michael Finke and/or Leron Black.

Now, considering Vesel won't be on campus until August might make him a candidate for a redshirt. But I still don't know near enough about his game to formulate much of an opinion at this point. He could come in and be ready. We'll see.

As always in regard to your last question, I reserve the right to change my mind. In fact, I'm sure I will between now and October. Multiple times probably.

G - Te'Jon Lucas
G - Mark Smith
G - Mark Alstork
F - Leron Black
F - Michael Finke

Off the bench
G/F - Kipper Nichols
G - Trent Frazier
F - Greg Eboigbodin
G - Aaron Jordan

Dyslexia Untied wrote on July 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Hi Scott

Any word on if Deontae Hawkins did indeed decommit from BC and if Illinois may look into adding him as a Graduate Transfer?

Scott Richey wrote on July 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm
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Dyslexia Untied,

Deontae Hawkins has apparently decommitted from Boston College, although the Eagles are reportedly still in play for the former Illinois State forward. Per CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein, Hawkins is also considering New Mexico, Creighton, Western Kentucky and Pacific.

Hawkins averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season for the Redbirds. That the 6-foot-8 forward also shot 44 percent from three-point range in doing so is a bonus. However, he hasn't been tied to Illinois like former ISU teammate MiKyle McIntosh.

Brad Underwood has said previously if any player is added it would likely be a grad transfer, but he mentioned yesterday he's not going to fill a scholarship just to fill it. At this point of the offseason, any player addition would slanted much heavier toward cultural fit. Things seem to be going pretty well for this group, and upsetting the apple cart as it were could be a hindrance.

Then again, player movement in college basketball is crazy. Anything can, and more often than not does, happen.

Pogo wrote on July 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm

When is Vesel join the Illini?   Why should we expect him to be able to add positive minutes at a B1G warrior/big level?   Does BU expect him to do just that?   Seems a long shot for either frosh to add much positive when playing older, more experienced bigs they will face in conference play.  I was just wondering if anyone has seen them enough to know they can be competent or if a redshirt year would be necessary for them to gain muscle and confidence?   Thanks.

Scott Richey wrote on July 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm
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Matic Vesel will join the Illini in August when the 2017-18 school year starts given the fact he's playing for the Slovenian U20 national team right now. I don't know what Vesel will necessarily bring at Illinois. He's a mobile big that can attack (and finish) at the rim. Because he's an international prospect there simply isn't much out there on him currently.

Still, both Vesel and fellow freshman big man Greg Eboigbodin could contribute this coming season. Eboigbodin might need some polish on his game, but he's got good size, ridiculously long arms and runs the floor like a guard despite being 6-foot-9. He's intriguing.


Gregg G wrote on July 12, 2017 at 1:07 pm

I believe Adam Fletcher works with the players during the summer on strength and conditioning.  Are there any notables that really stand out as making big improvements?

Scott Richey wrote on July 12, 2017 at 1:07 pm
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Gregg G,

Adam Fletcher probably spends the most time with the players during the summer. They get two hours per week with the coaching staff for practice or skill workouts. I believe Fletcher gets eight hours. 

Most of the returning players made big jumps last year with Fletcher, so this offseason has been more about fine tuning. Te'Jon Lucas, however, who couldn't participate 100 percent last year until October because of his foot injury looks noticeably bigger and more defined. Everybody's conditioning is getting a workout this offseason with Fletcher having at times alternated treadmill/Versaclimber and hill workouts.

The offseason workouts could also benefit freshman guard Trent Frazier. Brad Underwood said Frazier is stronger than he looks, but he's got room to add to his frame. Fellow freshman Mark Smith is already a horse, but further refining his body from baseball to basketball can only help him.

Anonymous User wrote on July 12, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Predictions as to what the 2018 Recruiting Class will look like and any names that are more likely to join the Illini?

Also, what happens if the NCAA voids UNC's basketball championships, including 2005?  What is the liklihood of that happening in light of their action against Louisville?

Scott Richey wrote on July 12, 2017 at 1:07 pm
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Recruiting predictions are a tough nut, especially with three evaluation periods this month still to happen (the first is underway now). Too many 2018 prospects are available/wide open in their recruitments. That said, Illinois has made Morgan Park point guard Ayo Dosunmu a priority, either Tim Finke or Talen Horton-Tucker could be added on the wing and Marcus Jackson predicted Monday that Corliss big man George Conditt will commit to the Illini.

He might be on to something there. Illinois was Conditt's first Power 5 offer, and he has the type of frame/game Underwood seems to be most interested in out of prospective post players. The only question about Conditt is how he would fare at the elite level. Corliss isn't that in Chicago, and neither is his unaffiliated AAU squad. Still, Underwood clearly liked his game enough to be the first major program to offer.

If the NCAA voids UNC's 2005 title, that's all that will happen. It will be like that championship game didn't even exist. Illinois' loss doesn't automatically turn into a win, at least of the tangible sort. No banner will be on the way to Champaign.

Kid Rock wrote on July 12, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Scott,  With the July AAU action beginning, will you be attending any of these events personally, or will you rely on the coaches & evaluators for your info?  What team is Conditt playing for?  Tim Finke?  THT?  Can we still expect a 5th yr grad transfer? I realize the pool is drying up at this point, but I have to think this staff is hoping to land one.  Thanks as always for the chats. 

Scott Richey wrote on July 12, 2017 at 1:07 pm
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Kid Rock,

I won't be attending any of the evaluation period events myself this July. Half the N-G sports staff is on vacation this month, so I'm holding down the fort with Matt Daniels. Then there's Big Ten football media days in two weeks and the start of Illinois training camp, where I fully transition into covering both football (alongside Bob Asmussen) and basketball (my same solo gig). That said, I'll keep an eye on Twitter for updates and catch a live stream when I can. I'll still be paying attention.

George Conditt plays for the unaffilated (i.e. not shoe brand) Team RWA. Tim Finke is playing at Peach Jam right now with MeanStreets, and Talen Horton-Tucker shifted from Mac Irvin Fire to Team Rose on the adidas circuit. The Simeon wing is now teaming with guys like Danville's Kendle Moore and Orr's Raekwon Drake.

I would be surprised if Illinois added another fifth-year transfer at this point. The market is super thin on bigs (the position that would make the most since), and Brad Underwood said yesterday he's not going to add a guy just to add a guy. But I've been surprised before in the world of player movement, so I'll never say never.

Scott Richey wrote on July 12, 2017 at 1:07 pm
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Questions answered, I'm going to shut down this week's chat. Our Illinois Year in Review (coming Sunday) beckons. Thanks to everybody that submitted questions or simply followed along. The chat will return next week; same time, same place.

Until then, enjoy the week!