Is Larry Austin finally going to say yes? What was Bruce Weber doing in Champaign? Is anyone listening to Tim Beckman? Ask our recruiting guru Matt Daniels anything. He's chatting at 1 p.m. Friday but submit questions any time.
Afternoon everyone. Matt Daniels here for another Friday recruiting chat. We've got a few questions already lined up, but feel free to submit any you'd like. I'll be here until 2 p.m.
Let's get it going on a cold, gray afternoon in Champaign-Urbana.
The Illini seem to be recruiting both Michael Finke and Keita Bates-Diop. Is there a chance that they would take both? And how possible is it that the 2014 class is composed of all recruits from central Illinois (i.e. Larry Austin, Jr., Keita Bates-Diop, and Michael Finke) or is it still not out of the realm of possibility that they will take a big man such as Cliff Alexander if they can find one instead of one of the three aforementioned recruits?
Hi Bob from Normal-
Illinois is recruiting Champaign Centennial (Ill.) High School big man Michael Finke and Normal University (Ill.) High School forward Keita Bates-Diop. John Groce and his staff have scholarship offers out two of the more talented Class of 2014 prospects not only in Central Illinois, but the entire state.
What's intriguing about both Finke and Bates-Diop is they still have room to grow in their frames. If you put 20-30 more pounds on each player, I don't think it takes away from their array of skills and will help them play at a more efficient level in the Big Ten if they choose to go that route.
I think Illinois would be interested in taking them both since they both have scholarship offers to the two. Pretty self-explanatory. Plus, from a marketing standpoint, getting two players that are both in Illinois' backyard could provide an initial boost of excitment. They'd have to continue to develop and progress for the excitement to pay off.
If Cliff Alexander wants to come to Illinois, you take him. The power forward from Chicago Curie High School is ranked as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2014. That said, Illinois will have to do some catch-up work with some other prestigious Division I schools in an attempt to land a player of Alexander's skill level. Hope that helps
With one scholarhip available for the class of 2013, what prospects other than Austin Colbert are the Illini coaching staff still looking at?
can't wait for the season to start
Hi can't wait for the season to start -
Austin Colbert from New Jersey is obviously a priority for the Illinois and head coach John Groce as he was on campus in September for an official visit. If the atheltic power forward doesn't commit to Illinois (Seton Hall and Miami are also in the mix), I'd expect John Groce to go after another point guard. You'd have to think that would be the direction Illinois will go — and still may go even if Colbert does commit — because of the lack of ball handlers. DeShawn Munson from East St. Louis (Ill.) High School and Peoria's A.J. Riley are two possibilities that could fill in at the guard spot. They've both attracted interest from former head coach Bruce Weber, although they aren't that top recruit so many Illinois fans seem to covet.
When is Austin Colbert supposed to make a decision?
Austin Colbert has stated in other reports that he's likely to make a decision in mid-October. Well, technically, it's mid-October, and he hasn't committed so far. We'll see what transpires. I wouldn't be surprised if he announced a decision this weekend or waited until early November. This is a life-changing decision for these players, so a little extra though to the process isn't necessarily a bad thing.
I've heard that Jaquan Lyle is supposed to be on campus on Homecoming Weekend, what are our chances with a kid like this that was at Kentucky's Midnight Madness?
Hi illinibrave -
Jaquan Lyle is one of the top two or three point guard prospects in the Class of 2014. The Evansville, Ind., native who plays at Bosse High School has the size (6-4, 180) and skill set that will make most college coaches come after him, as we've already seen.
Kentucky's Midnight Madness is unlike any in the country, I'd say. I remember when I was in college at Eastern Illinois, we stopped at a local establishment in Lexington on a Friday night on our way to covering a football game just down the road from Lexington at Eastern Kentucky. The Cardinals were playing the Mets in the NLCS and all the TVs in the place (about 20) were turned to it. As soon as 8 p.m. hit, all the monitors were switched to Kentucky's Midnight Madness. To get back to your question and to get off my tangent (which was meant to illustrate just how important Kentucky basketball is in the state), if Kentucky is interested then they are the team to beat.
John Calipari has shown that he can develop point guards, even if they're only on campus for one year. I'd say right now it's a long shot Illinois can secure a player like Lyle, but that's based off the current environment surrounding the program. I don't doubt for a second that John Groce and his staff will go as hard as they can after a player like Lyle, but that may not necessarily mean Illinois will get him. A solid first year under Groce (NCAA tournament berth) and an even better second one (win a few games in the NCAA Tournament possibly) would go a long way towards restoring Illinois' brand in the name of high-caliber recruits.
First of all thanks for the chat..Just wondering what is the latest on Colbert, any time frame for his decision?
Hi Cali Illini -
Thanks for the questions. They make the chats possible. Austin Colbert is supposed to make a decision in mid-October, which is technically now. Could be this weekend, could be next week, could be next month. I've been unsuccessful so far in trying to track him down, but will continue to work at it. One interesting note with Colbert is that he won't be eligible to play until early January. Gill St. Bernard's in New Jersey is Colbert's third high school, and according to New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association's rules, he must sit out 30 days before he plays in his first game.
Thanks for the chat. I obviously have deep self-loathing issues for continuing to follow football as closely as I do. It's been obvious this season that the offensive line and wide receivers are the two weakest units on the team, and we seem to be awfully young at both. Who are the staff's current top targets in those areas, and with whom do you see us having a realistic chance?
Again, thanks for the questions. I won' diagnosis you with any ailment for still following Illinois football. All joking aside, I agree with your assessment that the offensive line and wide receivers are the two weakest units on Tim Beckman's first Illinois team. Holes that might have been there the past 2-3 seasons for Illinois running backs are clearly not there, and the wide receivers are doing nothing spectacular so far. Illinois has three offensive linemen lined up for the Class of 2013 (Jesse Chadwell, Austin Schmidt and Christian DiLauro) and some possiblities at wideout in the Class of 2013 (Martize Barr, Caleb Day, Reon Dawson, Michael Hermosillo). They are still in the mix for Class of 2013 wideouts DaeSean Hamilton from Stafford, Va., and possible slot receiver John Armstrong from Olympia, Fla.
As far as offensive lineman, keep an eye on Chicago Simeon High School's Kendall Moore, a Class of 2013 prospect, and two Class of 2014 prospects, JB Butler from Joliet Catholic (Ill.) High School and Brian Allen from Hinsdale Central (Ill.) High School.
How does Maverick Morgan fit into Groce's up tempo style of offense and the recent Simeon signees?
Hi VT Illini -
Maverick Morgan is a 6-10, 240-pound center from Springboro (Ohio) High School who, from everything I've heard, can provide the bulk along with the necessary athleticism to play in an up-tempo system that John Groce has favored in the past. Will he be a game-changer right away in the mold of say, a Jared Sullinger or an Anthony Davis, in his freshman season? Who knows. I think he's got the potential and talent to come in and make a difference in his first season, scrapping hard on the glass for offensive rebounds and providing a solid defensive presence in the lane. I'd anticipate his development would take until his sophomore or junior season to fully blossom, but you never know. That's what's so tantalizing and intriguing about recruits right now. You're not quite sure what to expect until they get on the court at Illinois.
With Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate, the Chicago Simeon backcourt pair who are committed to Illinois, I think they'll adapt just fine to Groce's system. Simeon plays a style of basketball that allows its players to adapt to almost any different style, and I'd liken the two of them coming to Illinois almost like red-shirt freshmen. They'll be used to the media attention and spotlight playing on one of the premier high school teams in the country, not to mention the travel. As one coach told me about Nunn, you leave the gym knowing he's quite the player.
Happy Friday Matt -
Practically throughout Illini basketball history, UI rosters have been filled with largely Illinois natives - Deron Williams, Derek Harper, and a few other out-of-staters are the exceptions. But Coach Groce seems to be casting a wider net than the region around Illinois that he originally talked about.
First, do you think that's true - do you think Coach Groce is recruiting from a wider area than Weber, Self, previous Illini coaches?
And second, do you think Coach Groce believes there would be a benefit (in terms of confidence, composure, chemistry, or anything else) in having a roster that wasn't composed of only Illinois kids?
Hi Tom -
I think Groce is recruiting from a wider net than what Bruce Weber did, which, depending on what Illinois fan you talk to, is a good or bad thing. Good in the sense that they're going after players regardless of where they're from, and bad in the sense that when they miss out on a player outside Illinois (Demetrius Jackson and Xavier-Rathan Mayes) the fan base can begin start to question if it's a good use of the staff's time and resources. I'm all for recruiting players out of state. Illinois high school basketball is not what it was in the 1980s and 1990s, and Illinois basketball isn't what it was in those decades either.
I think how Groce is recruiting is on par with what Bill Self was doing. I think, in the long run, Groce will land some top-tier talented players from outside the state limits. So far, he just seems capable of doing that, and give him more than six months, and I think he will.
As for your second question, I don't think it's either a benefit or disadvantage to have players outside of Illinois. The way the summer circuit works now with AAU ball, most of these players know each other by the time they arrive on a college campus. That trend will continue in the future. I think what Groce has done in his first six, now seven months on the job, is show he's not afraid to go out and go after the best players, regardless of where they live. You look at some of the top teams year in and year out, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, and they're attracting players from all different parts of the country. It hasn't hurt them.
Hey Matt. Klee has said in the past (and I'm obviously paraphrasing) that the staff was looking to see some skill progression from Larry Austin before they offered a scholarship, and that while Austin is clearly a talented athlete it might take a specific kind of havoc-creating system to fit him. What has the staff seen in Austin's development that led to the scholarship offer?
Hi Mike M. -
I haven't gotten around to touching base with Austin and his camp since Groce offered the scholarship to the Springfield (Ill.) Lanphier High School junior guard, but hope to do so before the season starts. I don't think there's ever been a question of if Austin can play at a high-major D-I school. If it were, some of the teams after him (Iowa, Memphis, DePaul, Florida State, Stanford, just to name a few) wouldn't be heading to our state's capital to check out Austin's skill.
I think by Groce offering a scholarship to Austin, it shows that Groce is adapating his recruiting process a bit. Who knows if Groce would have offered a scholarship to Austin if say, Demetrius Jackson and Xavier Rathan-Mayes had committed to Illinois. That debate could go on for hours and never be settled. I think because Illinois didn't land a committment from Jackson and Rathan-Mayes, that puts Austin as more of a priority now for Illinois. Yes, Austin isn't necessarily a true point guard. He has shown in the past his play thrives in an uptemo, havoc-creating system that Lanphier used so well last year to make it to Peoria. But he still has two years left of high school basketball, and another summer on the AAU circuit, to improve his point guard play. A player like Austin, whose father, Larry Austin Sr., described as a gym rat when I talked to him last month, will feed off the critics who say he can't play point guard and work on improving in those areas. Just my take.
Going to wrap up the chat for today. Thanks for all the questions on various topics. It was a fun one today. The ones I didn't get to I'll address in a blog next week. Stay warm if you're venturing out to a Friday night football game tonight.
Have a good weekend everyone!