In search of help: Six Illini targets to be excited about

In search of help: Six Illini targets to be excited about

Beat writer Scott Richey offers up six recruiting targets Illini fans should want to see play in Champaign:


The 2019 Illinois commit has a soft touch around the rim belying his 6-foot-10, 300-pound frame. Of course, he can also tear the rim off the basket given the opportunity. He showed both Sunday night in Oak Hill Academy’s 72-67 loss to IMG Academy at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., putting up 17 points and eight rebounds. Cockburn would have been a no-doubt top-15 prospect a decade ago with his size, strength and skill as a post scorer. Even with the shift in basketball to big men able to stretch the floor with their shot, Cockburn’s still considered a five-star talent. Plus, he’s headed to the Big Ten — where dominant big men still have a home.


January got his first look at Illinois and Champaign two weeks ago after committing sight unseen in early November. Now all the Illini can do is wait to add the 6-foot-11, 240-pound, four-star center since January can’t sign until April. He’ll provide some needed post depth as a long, athletic big.


Illinois has one scholarship left to give in the 2019 class and odds are it goes to a wing. Brown could be that wing. All those trips to Oak Hill to see Kofi Cockburn? The Illini coaching staff got a good look at Brown, too, and the four-star recruit (who had 22 points Sunday) would add defense and scoring on the wing.


Miller’s scoring record at the Big Dipper wasn’t exactly an anomaly. The 6-3 2020 guard has been putting up those numbers all season. He did it again Saturday with 30 points in the Mustangs’ overtime win against Patterson (Md.) in the Charm City vs. Windy City Showdown in Baltimore.


The St. Louis metro area has produced plenty of talent the last several years. None of those players, though, have made it to Champaign (or stuck there for more than one season). The 6-6 junior is averaging 23.1 points this season at Chaminade, and wherever he lands, he’ll provide plenty of shooting.


No player in the state of Illinois — in any class — has a higher rating on the 247Sports Composite than the 6-6 guard out of Rolling Meadows. Not Miller and not E.J. Liddell. Christie is ranked as high as No. 16 nationally in the 2021 class, and he caught Illinois’ attention last June after his freshman year.