March 14 Illinois basketball chat

March 14 Illinois basketball chat

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 12:30pm

March Madness might be happening without Illinois, but that doesn't mean the basketball world is moving on without the Illini. Consider the early end to the season a jumpstart on recruiting. Even with commitments from Alan Griffin and Samba Kane to team up with Ayo Dosunmu in the 2018 class, Illinois coach Brad Underwood probably isn't done. Our beat writer will chat about all things Illini hoops at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. Submit your questions now.

Scott Richey wrote on March 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm
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It might be the offseason, but that doesn't mean basketball has stopped happening for Illinois. It's just more tangential at this point. Like Ayo Dosunmu and E.J. Liddell playing in the state tournament this weekend in Peoria. Or Illini coach Brad Underwood working as a guest studio analyst tomorrow and Friday for the NCAA tournament. 

Or our weekly chat here at IlliniHQ.com. Looks like a good number of questions already await me again this week, so let's get to it.

IlliniFanSincetheSpoon wrote on March 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm

Hey Scott,

Is Samba Kane a project or help right away?

Do you think a monsterous other shoe will soon fall on the programs named in the FBI probe? The NCAA seems to hammer the little guy but lightly slaps the big boys.

Scott Richey wrote on March 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm
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IlliniFanSincetheSpoon,

I'm not dodging your first question. I promise. I just think Samba Kane could fall under both categories. It's not a stretch, in my opinion, that an athletic, almost 7-footer with long arms can benefit Illinois defensively as a rim protector right away. I've also tried to find more video of him to see what he can do offensively. Most of it is him finishing around the rim (with dunks!), but I can see hints of a certain smoothness in the way he plays, too. The fact he simply hasn't played basketball that long will be the hurdle to clear as he simply continues to figure out the game.

I honestly don't know what to expect from the FBI investigation. October seems like a long time ago, and I take the leaks that came out in the more recent Yahoo! report at face value. As in, it's just an expense report. Actual receipts would be more damning. It's a wait-and-see proposition. No one saw the October arrests coming. I'd say the next shoe to drop (if it does) will come with similar surprise.

Anonymous User wrote on March 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm

Do you happen to know the date for the upcoming Missouri bball game in December '18?

Scott Richey wrote on March 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm
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Anonymous,

The date for Braggin' Rights 2018 has not been released yet, but the prospect of it being on a Wednesday or Saturday before Christmas is pretty solid since 13 of the last 17 games against Missouri have fallen on either Wednesday or Saturday. Looking at the calendar, I wouldn't be surprised if it's on Saturday, Dec. 22. That's just my best guess, of course, so don't hold me to it.

Ken F. C. wrote on March 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm

  Any news on the visit from Tevian Jones or the recruitment of Ramey &  3 bigs fromm New York????

Scott Richey wrote on March 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm
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Ken F. C.,

Tevian Jones obviously didn't commit after his official visit to Illinois, but that wasn't expected. Odds are he takes another visit or maybe two more. I think the number of fans that showed up for Jones' informal workout at Ubben surprised him — in a good way. 

Illinois keeps pushing for Courtney Ramey and was in to see him yesterday. I'm not sure there's a more active team in his recruitment right now, although Missouri is making a push after coming in on him later than most. His senior season is still happening, though, so I wouldn't expect much movement on his recuitment until that's a wrap.

Of the more recent east coast offers, the one to keep an eye on is Giorgi Bezhanishvili. He's definitely a skilled 6-9/6-10 big man and has some quickness in his movement. He's a lefty, but he finishes around the rim with either hand. Interesting face-up game and a nice stroke on his jumper, too.

Anonymous User wrote on March 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm

     Our top recruit, Ayo Dosunmu, has an unusual name. Are his parents from an African country? Thank

you.

Scott Richey wrote on March 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm
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Anonymous,

Fun fact, Ayo's given name is actually Quamdeen, a name he shares with his dad, who goes by Quam and is of Nigerian descent.

Bill-e-bob wrote on March 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm

Scott,

A  VB question.  Two additional players (Deberg and Omazic) recently decided to transfer from the team, bringing the total number of transfers this year to four.  Do you know the reasons for these transfers?  Although we did have a coaching change, we rarely see this kind of turnover on the VB team.  The coach's comments about team unity and cohesiveness last season make the departures all the more mystifying.  Omazic and Gereau were  part of the regular rotation; so playing time was not the only issue.  The departures leave the team very thin as MB and pins.  Is Coach Tamas looking for possible transfers or late 2018 recruits to bolster depth at these positions?  Thanks for keeping VB on your radar as best you can!

 

 

 

Scott Richey wrote on March 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm
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Bill-e-bob,

I'll admit volleyball is not on my radar as much of late with Illinois basketball coverage my priority. So as to why some players have apparently decided to transfer, I'm not sure. Illinois' spring schedule starts this month, so it's something I'll discuss with Chris Tamas.

I can think of just two players transferred when Kevin Hambly was the coach (Jazmine Orozco to Pepperdine and Jessica Jendryk as a grad transfer to Saint Louis), so this is new for the Illini. The coaching change, though, probably makes a difference. Tamas didn't recruit any player on the 2017 roster and, as things stand now, just Taylor Kuper on the 2018 roster.

 

Anonymous User wrote on March 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm

Listening to a Chi. sports talk show last week,they compared BU to Tim Beckmann. They were inferring that the way he gets in players faces is abuse and that is the real reason Mark Smith is leaving. Do you see any validity to this comparison or that's the real reason MS is leaving?

Scott Richey wrote on March 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm
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Anonymous,

I didn't cover Illinois football on a daily basis when Tim Beckman was the coach so I don't have that full frame of reference, but I don't think it's a great comparison. Is Brad Underwood demanding? Definitely, but I don't think I'd so cavalierly throw around a word like "abuse." Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I don't see it that way. Players react differently to different situations, but I would say the driving factor in Mark Smith deciding to transfer was the difference between the role he expected to play and the role he ended up playing this season.

Anonymous Jim wrote on March 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm

How does a 47% shooter (Griffin) stay on the board so long and how good/bad is the NY Catholic league?I don't know why but I am excited about this kid.

Scott Richey wrote on March 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm
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Anonymous Jim,

I've obviously only seen video of Alan Griffin play, but I'm finding it hard to figure out how he wasn't getting more interest. Apparently Xavier was trying to enter the picture late, but Illinois sealed the deal before the Musketeers could establish anything. He's a proven shooter with that percentage, and based on some video from his last game maybe more athletic than people think. I'd say it's OK to be excited.

I don't know a ton about the Catholic League in New York other than the fact the two teams Griffin and Archbishop Stepinac beat in the semifinals and championship game had some legit dudes. Stepinac took down Archbishop Molloy in the semis and in doing so beat five-star UCLA signee Moses Brown and 2019 five-star guard Cole Anthony (son of former NBA guard Greg Anthony). 

Then Stepinac beat Christ The King in the championship game. That's a traditional powerhouse with alumni like Lamar Odom (sort of) and Speedy Claxton and other guys that basketball fans would recognize (Omar Cook and Erick Barkley). Plus Chamique Holdsclaw, Sue Bird and Tina Charles just to give the ladies their due. This year's Christ The King team had 2019 four-star center Kofi Cockburn (an Illini target) 

Illini Basketball Fan wrote on March 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm

Scott -

I read your article on Brad Underwood serving  as a guest studio analyst for Turner Sports and CBS Sports during the NCAA tournament. I suppose he seized this opportunity as a marketing/recruiting ploy and a chance to cleverly show off (but in a good way) his basketball IQ and knowledge of the game. His hidden goal is to impress ones that may influence their or other decision(s) to come to Illinois/cheer for Illinois next year and beyond. I wonder if he is paid separately for this gig?

Thanks!

 

 

Scott Richey wrote on March 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm
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Illini Basketball Fan,

If Illinois isn't going to play in the NCAA tournament, might as well get the brand out there during it. Working as a guest studio analyst puts Brad Underwood's face and the words "Illinois basketball coach" in front of a national TV audience. That's not a bad thing. Not sure about compensation. I'll try to find out.

Khan El-Sanderz wrote on March 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm

I know you've said a gazillion times that no one knows what a 17yr old recruit might be thinking but what are your thoughts on the two unsigned bigs (liddell & okoro) that we'll able to watching in the IHSA playoffs this weekend.

Thanks for the chats and for sharing your vast wealth of sports knowledge.

 

 

Scott Richey wrote on March 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm
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Khan El-Sanderz,

You're right. Nobody really knows what E.J. Liddell or Francis Okoro might do with their recruitment. What I do know is Illinois is putting in work on both 2019 prospects. I spoke with Liddell last night, and he said he's not at a point in his recruitment where he's prioritizing one team over another. That said, the Illinois coaching staff has made multiple trips to Belleville just to visit and seen him play several times, too. Liddell has known Jamall Walker for three years now, and he's built a relationship with Brad Underwood during the last year.

The Illinois coaches will get another chance to see Liddell this weekend in the state tournament, and I'd say almost everyone in the state (save for Larkin and Evanston fans) is hoping for a Belleville West-Whitney Young final in 4A after the Dolphins took down Simeon yesterday.

 

Bill S. wrote on March 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm

what are Illinois' chances of getting Courtney Ramey! Also when do you think that Illinois will finalize the roster? Who is rumored to also leave the team?

Scott Richey wrote on March 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm
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Bill S.,

To borrow from my old colleague Marcus Jackson, it's 50-50 Illinois lands Courtney Ramey. That's basically the they either will or they won't answer. I'm not sure there's a coaching staff purusing Ramey harder at this point, but there will be competition. 

Illinois didn't have its 2017-18 roster finalized until getting a commitment from Mark Alstork last May. Between adding more 2018 high school prospects and perhaps hitting the grad transfer market, there's no telling when the 2018-19 roster will be set in stone. Sometime this spring.

The rumor list, of which I will stress are JUST RUMORS until something actually happens (if it happens at all) ... Leron Black, Michael Finke, Matic Vesel and Te'Jon Lucas.

teachdacc2 wrote on March 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm

Scott,  First of all thanks for the great chats.  i know the roster is not set in stone for the 2018-19 season but I am curious of about the off season training, conditioning that is on going at present.  Is everyone in Ubben daily?  Does the staff ever look at students currently on campus as possible players?

Thanks and joy March Madness.

Scott Richey wrote on March 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm
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teachdacc2,

The players got some time off following the season, but their spring workouts will spin up here shortly. That basically just includes lots of time with Adam Fletcher.

As far as the coaches looking at students on campus as potential players, that's how Samson Oladimeji got a walk-on tryout. That's what happened with Clayton Jones, too. He went from just being a student to being a walk-on, but obviously he was a semi-known commodity. 

Scott Richey wrote on March 14, 2018 at 1:03 pm
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That's it for today's chat. Another good one as we move further into the offseason. Let's make that a habit. You bring the questions. I'll bring the answers — or at least some opinions. 

The chat will be back next week. Same time, same place. Until then, enjoy the week! With March Madness upon us, how could you not?