With the departure of Isaac Chew, Illinois is on the hunt for a third assistant coach.
And the ultimate choice could come down to which factor Groce prefers: fit or perception. A hire based on fit might be an assistant familiar with John Groce. A hire based on perception would be more likely to appease the masses calling for a Chicago guy.
If he can accomplish both, that's gravy. And if there's one thing learned about Groce in his first two months at Illinois — the Big Ten's youngest head coach isn't scared to test conventional thought and go his own way against popular opinion.
Asked Thursday if he would base the hire on ties to Chicago, Groce said, "I think it's something to consider, for sure. For me right now the biggest thing is I want to get a guy who wants to be at Illinois, who understands what it means to be at a special place like Illinois. That's more important to me, regardless of where they're from."
Here are three more possibilities — in addition to the usual suspects that are discussed often.
One is Daniyal Robinson, an assistant at Houston. The Rock Island native also recruited Chicago as an assistant at Iowa State, signing Whitney Young standout Chris Colvin. He recently helped Houston secure a nationally ranked recruiting class.
Another is former Illinois State assistant Paris Parham, who has numerous ties in Chicago due to his time in the high school and AAU ranks in the city. Another is Bradley assistant Willie Scott, who is a Bradley and Chicago King graduate.
Several AAU figures in the city have endorsed one or more of those candidates. And there are others under consideration. Groce's new Iphone was blowing up with suggestions and lobbyists immediately after the Chew-to-Marquette development.
"I want to make sure we get the right guy," Groce said. "I'm not in any rush."