Waiting on next domino

Waiting on next domino

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CHAMPAIGN — Ayo Dosunmu hit a lot of boxes as Illinois' first 2018 commitment and first of an eventual eight newcomers, including six freshmen, for the coming season.

In-state recruit? Check.

Five-star prospect? Check.

Position of need? Check.

Illinois is still waiting on this year's first commitment — the first 2019 prospect to buy into what second-year coach Brad Underwood is trying to build with the Illini. Multiple Big Ten programs already have prospects on board in the 2019 class, but Underwood isn't overly concerned with when the recruiting dominos start to fall.

Who Illinois ultimately adds has been and continues to be the Illini coach's primary concern.

"I think you have to be careful what you think that momentum is," Underwood said. "If it's momentum that's media generated or fan generated, it's probably not the right stuff. I think you have to have the momentum with guys that fit and you're excited about — as a staff that we all think fit. That's the momentum that's so important.

"We're in a good place. I've got a great staff, and I think the year of understanding how we're doing this and why we're doing this and how we're putting it together is evident on the court. As we continue to recruit, they've identified exactly what we need."

Illinois will have multiple visitors on campus in the coming weeks, including some of their top targets in the 2019 class.

Four-star forward Anthony Walker Jr. made an official visit last week, and the Illini have an important weekend coming next weekend. Already set to host five-star center Oscar Tshiebwe and four-star wing Terrence Shannon Jr. — up 26 spots to No. 46 nationally in the latest Rivals150 released Tuesday — Illinois will also have 2018 News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year and Illinois Mr. Basketball E.J. Liddell on campus, too, per a report by PrepHoops' Scott Burgess.

Underwood, of course, can't comment specifically on prospective players. For the 2019 class, that means the nearly four dozen recruits with an Illinois offer that haven't yet committed to another program.

"Recruiting's the thing you can never talk about, but it's the thing that never stops," Underwood said. "It's about continuing to add the right pieces and to find the right parts, so to speak. I feel great about where we're at. Our staff has put together a list of guys we really like and think fit what our needs are.

"We'll continue searching. I think you're seeing a class that fits our needs, and that's what we've been pretty specific with and dove into. It will be an exciting fall."