Snider: 'It just seemed perfect for me'
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A reason for optimism after John Groce was hired to take over the Illinois basketball program 18 months ago was the ability he had shown in the past to be an elite recruiter. He built that reputation as an assistant at Ohio State and later as the head coach at Ohio.
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Groce continues to add to that reputation at Illinois after Louisville Ballard point guard Quentin Snider on Thursday announced his oral commitment to the Illini. Snider, a four-star guard rated 28th in the country by ESPN and 31st by Scout and Rivals, becomes the second top-40 player in the Class of 2014 to commit to Illinois after Memphis (Tenn.) White Station forward Leron Black made an oral commitment Sept. 1 during his official visit to the UI campus.
“What I like about Illinois is Coach Groce, he’s a real good guy. When I talk to him, he seems real trustworthy,” Snider said.
The 6-foot-1 point guard, who made an official visit to Illinois last weekend and had a home visit with Groce and assistant Dustin Ford on Monday, picked Illinois over UCLA. Snider visited UCLA earlier this month, and Bruins coach Steve Alford visited the Sniders at home Tuesday.
At his news conference Thursday outside the Ballard gym, Snider revealed he was close to committing to UCLA after his visit earlier this month. But Groce and the Illini staff made up some major ground in the last week.
“When I went to UCLA, it was a beautiful campus, real nice. To be honest, right when I got off the UCLA visit, I wanted to commit. But I wanted to take another visit and Illinois, it just seemed perfect for me,” he said.
Snider joins Black and Centennial forward Michael Finke in Illinois’ 2014 recruiting class.
With the 2014 class taking shape, plus the additions of transfers Darius Paul and Aaron Cosby for the 2014-15 season, Groce and the Illini have put themselves in position to be competitive at the top of the Big Ten.
Snider will join a deep group of guards, including Tracy Abrams, Kendrick Nunn, Jaylon Tate and Cosby, his good friend and fellow Louisville native.
Ballard coach Chris Renner and Scott Snider, Quentin’s dad, said the point guard wasn’t promised a starting position as a freshman at Illinois, but an opportunity for one if he put in the work.
“They’ve got some good players coming back after this season ends. They’ve got Aaron and Darius sitting out, and with Quentin and Leron coming in, they’re going to be set to win games,” Scott Snider said. “Quentin’s going to have to come in there and earn his playing time, and we understand that. He’s going to have to work his butt off to make sure he gets the opportunity to play because that team is going to be set when he gets there.”
A top-level, playmaking point guard to run his fast-paced offense is something Groce has been looking to land since taking over the Illinois program. With Snider, Illinois has that; a player who can handle the ball, make plays for others and score.
“To be honest, I thought Big Ten basketball was slow,” Quentin Snider said. “But the way I see it from clips of Illinois, they’re trying to get up and down.”
Thursday’s commitment brings to an end an exhausting six weeks for Snider and his family. He decommitted from Louisville on July 31 and has been fielding calls and answering questions about his next move every day since he made that announcement. The Snider family wanted to do its homework, weigh its options and make sure Snider was making the best choice.
Snider is confident he has found that with Illinois and the coach who is on his way to returning the program to national relevance.
“When I talk to the players about him, they say everything he says is true,” Snider said. “He’s a good man, a good family man, and that’s why I’m going to go there.”