Klee's Corner: Groce on July recruiting

Klee's Corner: Groce on July recruiting

The entire Klee's Corner, a full page of college basketball coverage, publishes every Sunday in the offseason. Here's a snippet from this week:

The Illinois staff wraps up the July evaluation period Sunday. Coaches were scheduled to be in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Orlando and Ft. Wayne, Ind., during the final week.

The new format – three five-day windows instead of two 10-day windows – has drawn mixed reviews from coaches. The old format often led to tired prospects and tired coaches by July's close. The new format allowed for comprehensive evaluations, though it still might be too long.

“At least it gives you some time to come back, take a deep breath, return to the office and analyze what we’ve seen,” Groce said this week. “We sit down and we meet and talk strategy. We figure out what calls we have to make, where we go next, who’s going where. It gives you a chance to plan a little better. I like the fact I get to see my wife and two kids at least for 24-48 hours before going back out for five (days). That part’s been good.”

Illinois’ approach to this July was twofold - continue to play catch up with the 2013 and 2014 classes, while getting in early on the better prospects in the 2015 and 2016 classes.

“I think we’ve made up a lot of ground,” Groce said. “That’s for sure.”

Assistant coach Jamall Walker is the de facto recruiting coordinator on the staff. The former Murray State, Arizona and Ohio staffer identifies which coach should be where and at what time. Travel plans change as prospects move up and down their big board, but there were few travel difficulties for the staff in its first July at Illinois.

“As we should be, we’re further along than we were two months ago. What that translates into, I don’t know at this point. We’ll see what happens,” Groce said. “We need some guards for sure. We need an athletic 4 (forward). We’re fighting and grinding it out. The staff’s done a very good job. The staff is very organized. Jamall organizes all of our recruiting. I think he’s been very, very good with that.”