AD gives Groce vote of confidence
CHAMPAIGN — Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman announced on WDWS on Saturday morning that Illini men's basketball coach John Groce will continue to lead the program.
"I think it's important today that folks understand that John Groce is going to continue to be our basketball coach," Whitman told Loren Tate and Michael Kiser. "He's a first-class individual and an excellent leader. He's a student of basketball and leadership and I feel really comfortable with the leadership he's given our guys."
Whitman's comments come a day before the Illini (13-17) wrap up the regular season with a game at Penn State.
Groce's job has come under fire in the past year, with the team in position to finish below .500 for just the third time since the 1998-99 season and miss the NCAA tournament for the third straight year. Two players, Darius Paul and Leron Black, arrested in the past seven months have also cast the program in a negative light.
The beginnings of a program-changing recruiting class in 2017, though, has cooled off Groce's seat. The Illini currently have the No. 4 2017 recruiting class in the nation with three-star guard Javon Pickett and four-star guard Da'Monte Williams, the son of former Illini point guard Frank Williams, committed. Illinois is also the apparent leader for five-star center and No. 10 overall national prospect Jeremiah Tilmon.