Aug. 15 Illinois basketball chat

Aug. 15 Illinois basketball chat

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 - 12:30pm

Illinois has missed out on Kahlil Whitney and Terrence Shannon Jr., but E.J. Liddell, Drew Timme and Kofi Cockburn are still in play. What will ultimately become of the Illini's 2019 recruiting class? Which prospects are the realistic targets? When do recruiting misses start to become worrisome? Beat writer Scott Richey will answer any and all Illinois basketball (plus football and volleyball) questions in his weekly chat. Submit your questions early and often before the 12:30 p.m. Wednesday start.

Scott Richey wrote on August 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm
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Good afternoon everybody. It might still be summer somewhere, but not here at N-G headquarters in downtown Champaign. I've got a busy Wednesday schedule now that I'm back from another morning of Illinois football training camp. (Be on the lookout later this month for our Big Ten football special section).

I've got a few questions waiting for me, so I'm going to answer them and keep moving with my day (unless someone else asks something before I'm done). 

Let's get to it ...

Steve1 wrote on August 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Hi Scott.  Thanks for your time, as always.  Regarding Terrence Shannon, yeah, it's a blow to have a player like him choose Depaul over the Illini; but in the big picture I really don't mind too much.  I'd much rather he stay in state to help build a local program, and maybe others will follow suit to both Depaul and Illinois in the coming years.  Am I crazy?  (And if we miss out on our other top targets, I reserve the right to change my glass-half-full opinion here.)

Scott Richey wrote on August 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm
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Steve1,

I'm of a similar mind as you when it comes to Terrence Shannon. Is losing him an end of the world proposition for Illinois? No, but it's also a strange look for the Illini. Here's an in-state player that Illinois was among the first to offer before his recruitment truly blew up this spring that also plays on an EYBL team the Illini were at least hoping to have a good connection with. Then he picks DePaul, who, to be fair, already had a four-star commit in the 2019 class. More than Illinois has at the moment.

I don't know that DePaul landing players has any effect on Illinois doing the same, but if you're right then it can't hurt. 

That said, reserving your right to change your opinion is fair. This Illinois coaching staff needs to show it can close. They did that with Ayo Dosunmu and then couldn't again until late in the process in the spring/summer. Plenty of offers out in the 2019 class will present more opportuntities to do so, and Illinois -- from a perception standpoint if nothing else -- needs to close on one of its top priority recruits.

Sandman1971 wrote on August 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Why cant the Illiini land the big name kids anymore? This is killing any chance of landing kids 4-5 years away from wanting to come to Illinois and play basketbal for a non tournament team with little to no success in the last 10 years! I have faith in Coach U but we will never have a chance to land 5 star kids and should basically stop getting our hopes up on these kids who will be swayed by NBA U schools Kentucky, Duke NC KU. I think we should focus on high 3 and low 4 star kids with the lure of playing 4 yrs of ball and earning a degree instead of NBA aspirations. Playing overseas like Hill,and Black Meechum isnt a bad life and if we can accumilate a starting 5 with these kids every year we can compete in the Big Ten and behond. I love Illinois basketball and lets get this thing back to where it was in the late 80s early 90's! Lets go back to the Final Four like 05 and lets get what diehard fans like me want. A National Championship to hang from the rafters in Champaign!! GO ILLINI

Scott Richey wrote on August 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm
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Sandman1971,

You're recruiting plan isn't necessarily the wrong path to take. If you look at Illinois historically (even to when recruiting rankings didn't exist) the number of super high profile players to pick the Illini isn't that high. There are some -- Bruce Douglas and Efrem Winters, the Flyin' Illini, Dee Brown, Ayo Dosunmu -- but Illinois' continued success was built more with the kind of players you're talking about.

You can say that's what Brad Underwood has done to a certain extent. Tevian Jones fits that category. I think Alan Griffin does, too. The current bigs might be a bigger reach on potential, but everyone will find out when they actually play.

Yes, Illinois has whiffed on plenty of five-star talent. The way those misses have piled up have rankled the fan base. However, if there's a five-star player that has interest in my program, I'm going to recruit him. They might say no, but they can't say yes unless you ask. (Just don't put all your recruiting eggs in that one basket).

Blakester wrote on August 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm

       Good Scott! I wanna ask if you kept with Ayo, Tevin and other new players in their summer sessions and stuff to get accustomed to the vets on the floor and in the locker room to bulid rapport for this coming campaign which is a rocky hike. How will the young guns be able to carry the load when the old dogs get worn to bits once old man winter storm into the derby? And how will this rugged schedule gonna cave into the mindset and confidence of Underwood's kids when they been surrounded by hype and pizzaz by fans, media and everybody else and end up being rattled in the process? Is there any way for these kids to sharpen their focus on where it need to be?

Scott Richey wrote on August 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm
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Blakester,

Somehow I think Kipper Nichols won't be too worn by old man winter. He looked in great shape the last time I saw him, and, let's be fair, even Illinois' oldest players are still in the early 20s. I might feel each of my 31 years some days, but I think Nichols and Aaron Jordan and Co. can keep up with the freshmen.

As for your other question, part of Brad Underwood targeting guys that have won elsewhere is to combat any downturn in focus or production losses might present. And there will be losses this season. The schedule, Big Ten games included, is no joke. Last year's team couldn't figure out how to close, how to win games late. The only way this team will is to be in those situations considering so many of them will be playing high major hoops for the first time ever.

Scott Richey wrote on August 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm
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That's it for today's chat. Thanks to everyone that submitted questions or just followed along. The chat will be back next week -- same time, same place -- so excuse me as I dive headfirst back into Big Ten football. 

Enjoy the week!