While everyone else is covering football, Marcus Jackson remains devoted to college basketball. Our beat writer takes questions at 12:30 p.m. each Wednesday./ Submit them early to better your chances of an answer.
Good afternoon and happy schedule release day. I'll be here for about an hour taking your questions and might take a short break right at about 1 p.m. when the schedule is, well, scheduled to be released. We didn't chat last week and it looks like there are a lot of questions, so I'll get right to it.
Why is Illinois playing UIC at the United Center?!?!?!? Who at Illinois agreed to play UIC and why? UIC makes ZERO sense. Will Illinois be able to get out of the UIC matchup in the future? The UC is a huge national attention big time match up game for Illinois. They should be playing UCONN or Louisville at the UC with the best recruits in the country sitting court-side. Having a game at the UC is completely wasted on UIC. Please tell me this will be the last time Illinois wastes a game on UIC at the United Center.
They're contrqactualy obligated to do so based on an agreement within the university system. They've got to play UIC there once every three years. This won't be the last time they play UIC there.
Most likely next year's United Center opponent with be Oregon as a return game for the Illini playing the Ducks at the Rose Garden this season.
Is it a Illinois /Kentucky race for Alexander now ?
Possible that Black commits this weekend on his visit ? This staff seems to do very well on campus visits
If groce and staff don't like a big time player in 14 or 15 is there reason for concern ? Seems like it will happen. Just waiting on who it will be
No, it's not. I believe you're basing this on Cliff's tweet last night that he's considering Illinois, Kentucky and the others. Most people disregarded that "the others" part. Not sure what sparked him to ssay that, but it's not a two-team race. I believe Kansas is the front-runner, but Illinois, Michigan State and "the others" are also in the mix.
It's very possible that Black commits this weekend, I'm sure the staff will do what it can to get him to make a pledge.
The most important thing is what happens on the floor and they've positioned themselves, with the 2013 class and transfers to have some success. I'd bet, though, that 2015 could be a good year recruiting.
Thanks for the chat! The section A empty seats is a big issue with some people. Can the DIA do anything about them? How about letting people from higher sections fill the empty Section A seats after the first ten minutes of the game have elapsed?
It's been an issue for quite some time, but if those folks buy the seats and don't show up, there's not a whole bunch that can be done. You can't just let others trickle down because, what if the seat-holders show up? I know it's not likely to happen, but it could become a problem. There are some ideas being floated around to maybe have a ticket-exchange program where the people who can't make the game can sell or transfer their seats online to those willing to be there. Once the State Farm center is done, it should be less of an issue, as the students will be seen on camera.
where do you think we'll rank in the big ten? And is the guard play suitable enough for Groce' s style of play ?( I've got questions)
I've said all along they can finish anywhere from seventh in the league to about 10th. It really depends how the freshmen come along and how the transfers mix. The guard play is suitable for the style of play and it will be even more so if Ahmad Starks can play this year. Starks has been real tough this summer and is a perfect fit to run the show in a ball-screen offense. Tracy Abrams continues to develop his game and Kendrick Nunn plays with the kind of energy Groce and the staff like.
Hey MJ, If you read message boards the consensus is that ( this is all hypothetical ) if Groce can sign Black , Alexander and Snider that he will because it will all work out . OK , what if nobody leaves , nobody gets their scholarship taken away , how will it all just (workout) . I don't see it . Maybe I don't get but, things may not ( just work out) . Tell me I'm wrong and tell me why . But please don't tell me it will all work out . Something has to give , or should I say be given back .
More than likely, you're not going to have to worry about that. They're probably not going to get all three. But, if they do, I don't know how it will work out. We didn't know how it was going to work out last year. If they get all three, maybe someone on the current roster will feel like that the presence of one or a couple of the three players you mentioned might hinder his development and decide to go elsewhere. Maybe someone will be unhappy with his role in the upcoming season and decide he needs to be somewhere else, kind of how Myke Henry did. I don't know how it will work out, or if it will work out, but things happen. We're a long, long way away from those decisions having to be made.
So, I love player comparisons because, really, there's a finite number of skills and physical attributes a basketball player can have and it's a good way to get a rough idea of what a player is, and can be. That said, who in recent memory do you think is the best comparison for Leron Black? From the highlights I've seen, as far as former Illini I'd say he's a lot like Roger Powell, but two inches taller: strong, very athletic, great finisher and capable from long range. If he comes to Illinois I see him in a similar role as a smaller 4 who can be an athletic force around the rim and also step out and hit the three, but he looks like he has more ability to put it on the deck and create for himself from the wing, and could end up being a legit small forward.
Just curious who he reminds you of, and also what you think his ceiling as a player might be.
I see Leron being more of a hybrid 3-4. He's got the skills to develop into a servicable 3 at the college level, but he'll play a lot at the 4, too. I heard this comparison somewhere a while back and I kind of liked it. Patrick Patterson from Kentucky. Leron can play with his back to the basket and he's already got a developing midrange game and is relentless on the boards. He'll have to get stronger, like most high school kids.
I see him as a three-year or four-year college guy and if he develops like he can, he will draw an NBA check. There's along way to go for that, he's still rather raw, but the potential is certainly there.
Do you think that Mudiay having picked SMU, is going to affect other recruits from the 2014 class committing to UK? I feel like top prospects aren't going to pick UK until they figure out their point guard situation, which I think puts Illinois in a better position for Cliff Alexander. Another indirect effect on Illinois from Mudiay's decision, is that I think that top recruits are going to reconsider their home school even more after seeing how much respect the Mudiay got home from signing with SMU. Am I thinking too much about the Mudiay effect, or do you agree and think there is going to be a positive effect on Illinois from this?Also any word on Quentin Snyder and Illinois' chances with him? I thought I heard something about him and Cosby or some other player on the team being friends.And last thing, is anything special being planned for Leron Black this weekend?
I like your thoughts, but you might be reading a little bit too much into everything with regard to one commitment. Kids are going to do what they feel is best for them. It might seem like it, but not every top player int he country wants to play at Kentucky. A lot do, but not all of them. Mudiay wanted to stay home and what's not to love about SMU. It's in the middle of Dallas, beautiful campus and a Hall-of-fame former NBA coach.
Cosby and Snider are both from Louisville. They have a relationship and that can't do anything but help Illinois. Other big-time programs are involved, so it's going to take more than that.
Nothing over the top for Black. He'll meet with the staff and support staff on campus and spend time with the players. They'll tailgate and go to the game on Saturday. Illinois is all about building relationships with the athletes, so they'll devote their efforts on getting to know Black more and letting him know what they're all about.
What is the likely starting 5 for Illinois this fall? Where can we logically expect this team to finish in the Big Ten?
The starting five could depend on a few things. Is Ahmad Starks eligible? Best guess right now would be Abrams, Rice, Bertrand, Ekey, Egwu. You could also see Starks, Abrams, Rice, Bertrand, Egwu if they want to go small and feel comfortable with Joe at the 4. Either way, Ekey will play a lot of minutes, he was impressive over the summer.
As I said earlier, I'd guess somewhere between seventh and 10th in the Big Ten.
From a couple of weekago--
Thanks for the chat!
It seems like quite a buzz surrounds the State Farm Center renovation from Coach Groce’s comments about the renovation to the $30 million dollars of pledges from I-Fund members. Is this buzz being reflected in basketball season ticket renewals and banner seat sales? What is the percentage of basketball season tickets renewed and banner seats sold?.
Thanks for following up. My understanding is that season-ticket renewals are going well right now, not sure where they are now as opposed to the same time last year, and about 200 tickets remain for the $199 banner-level tickets.
Thanks for the chats! How's the team looking as of right now. A lot of places like espn have us ranking around 10 in the big ten. With why you've seen in terms of practice do you agree or disagree and why? Also what impact would black have if he committed? He's ranked right around where dj was. Should we expect the same kind of impact or more?
The players just got back to campus about a week ago after a three-week break and they're getting back into the swing of things. Mostly strength and conditioning and individual workouts now. The first day of practice is Sept. 27, so we're inside a month now. That's two weeks earlier than normal with the new NCAA rules.
Finishing 10th in the Big Ten might be the floor for this team, but it's possible. So much depends on how much improvement is made between now and the opener against Indiana on New Year's Eve and if Ahmad Starks is eligible. With so many new faces, these guys just have to get to know one another and get comfortable together.
A Black commitment would let it be known that Illinois is serious in its commitment to raise the profile of the program and the coaching staff in place is capable of attracting some top talent. He'd be an impact player for the. Hard to compare the impact he could have with DJ. Different positions surrounded by different players with a different coaching staff.
I read recently that Xavier Rathan-Mayes is ineligible for this upcoming season with Floriday State. Too bad for him.
How does that process play out?
I guess I'm wondering if Groce or other coaches know when players are going to cut it close as far as being cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse. I wonder what kind of things can really be done to make it work, or if it's a crapshoot.
Tough break for Rathan-Mayes and the Seminoles. Typically, when a player makes an official visit to a campus, that player must have been OK's by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Apparently, there was reason for the NCAA to believe that something wasn't right with XRM's transcripts after he had gone through the process and they went back to check some things out. It seems as though everyone involved thought he was OK, but not so upon further review.
XRM was steered toward a prep school in North Carolina where very little time was provided for academics. It was all basketball. That's the problem.
Sorry for the delays, having Internet troubles here in the office.
Any word on how Morgan has looked in early workouts/scrimmages, etc? For better or worse, he's going to have to play significant minutes this year.
The biggest thing Maverick did during the summer was transform his body. He was a bit out of shape and he dropped around 20 pounds, which will allow him to move a little better and his footwork also improved. He's got some work to do, but he's going to play. The idea is for him to bring some toughness and do some of the dirty things and bring an edge. his game will continue to come along.
After reading the NCAA waiver guidelines the Starks' request seems like a longshot. Is this the feeling of the coaching staff (privately)? Publicly, where does the request stand?
Tell my octogenarian buddy hello!
Everyone involved in Starks' situation feels like there's a good chance he can get the waiver. The miles restriction has some wiggle room. We won't know the status of the request until a decision is made.
The NCAA has to go through a number of avenues to make its decision. They've got to get all the paperwork from Illinois, Oregon State and then follow up with the amily to make figure out that situation then decide if they feel like everything is legit.
Hello, octogenraian buddy,
Would a very poor season, say 9th or 10th place B10 finish, be disastrous for our 2015 class?
No because it's being reinforced that this is a rebuilding year of sorts for Illinois adn with Paul and Cosby on the sideline this year, the roster will improve the follwoing year. Plus, recruits are being sold on the idea that they are the missing link in getting Illinois back to the upper echelon of the Big Ten.
Hi Marcus, I realize that official practices don't begin until Oct. but will they be resuming workouts soon? Should we be alarmed about the one-word reply to our invitation to White Station High regarding the Shoot-out at the Hall? Cliff's team also has declined due to previous commitment. What's the latest on Aaron Jordan? Thanks for the chats!
Players are back and working out, mostly strength and conditioning. Practice begins Sept. 27.
Don't be alarmed by the one-word answer from the AD. Sounds like a guy who probably didn't want to be bothered with all that comes with attending an event out of state. It should have no bearing on what Leron decides to do in terms of choosing a school.
Jordan remains a priority for 2015. He's ranked 79th in Scout's updated rankings. He's picking up a lot of interest of late. They'll stay on him.
Going to qrap it up for today. Thanks for reading and sorry for the delays and Internet issues. We'll break down the schedule in tomorrow's paper and here on the site later on.