Good (late) afternoon everybody. Had to delay getting today's chat wrapped up while I finished some other advance work for Friday and Saturday, but I didn't forget. Handful of questions for me this week, so maybe we're getting back on track. You can always submit questions via Twitter (@srrichey), email (email@example.com) or our submission form.
Let's get to it ...
Could you please provide an Aaron Jordan update? Continued basketball or hitting a home run in the business world? Would be great addition to the DIA. — Ron C.
Aaron Jordan is, in fact, working for the DIA right now as he wraps up his master's degree. He's currently in the marketing department, and I saw him in action this summer in Chicago at the Illini Fest.
Adam Miller, DJ Steward, Max Christie. What's the real chance any of them join the Illini? Fans should appreciate BU and staff casting a wide net for players, as you have noted in this chat. Thanks for the forum! — Sam B.
Interesting timing for this question. I got it yesterday, and one of the players listed above is already off the board with DJ Steward committing to Duke. Like I tweeted this afternoon, once the Blue Devils got involved it seemed inevitable they would land the Whitney Young guard.
Of the remaining two players Sam asked about, I would say Adam Miller is the likeliest addition. Illinois has recruited him since he was a freshman — first John Groce and then Brad Underwood — and the Illini coaching staff has further developed their relationship with Morgan Park and Mac Irvin Fire. Doesn't hurt that Chin Coleman coached for MIF several years ago.
I also say Miller is more likely because Max Christie is a guy that could easily wind up at Duke himself. This isn't me calling Christie to Duke, but ... maybe I'm calling Christie to Duke. Recent champs Virginia and Villanova are also involved, so Illinois might be a longer shot to land the 2021 Rolling Meadows guard.
Never heard anything on Bernard Kouma. What is the situation? — James H.
Bernard Kouma did not qualify academically to attend Illinois. The hold up was apparently some of his classes back in his native Chad. I haven't seen that he's landed elsewhere yet. A year at a prep school is probably both the most likely and best destination for him since it won't start his college basketball career clock.
Here's a football question: Is there a chance that Bobby Roundtree will get to attend a game this season?
And here's a question for you and anyone else who might be interested (and I won't hold you responsible): Athletes today have huge advantages over those in the past in terms of training, fitness and often pure size and athleticism, and that includes baseball. Mickey Mantle hit several home runs that were known or estimated to have gone over 500 feet, including one estimated at 565. No one does that today even though they're bigger and stronger. Why not? — Sam B.
It is Illinois' hope to get Bobby Roundtree back to campus from his rehab facility in Chicago at some this year. However, there's no real timetable for that. It all depends on how his recovery goes, and there's no rushing that.
When it comes to your baseball question ... I don't really know even if I have a potential idea on the matter. As juiced as the baseballs might be right now, it's still hard to make the contact necessary to hit a home run 500 feet-plus when guys like, and this is just one example, Jordan Hicks are basically throwing 105 mph sinkers. That's a lot of heat — and movement — to tee off and crush a bomb.
Here's something I found from MLB.com on 505-foot home run the Texas Rangers' Nomar Mazara hit this June:
"Mazara tied the overall Statcast record with a monster 505-foot shot into the upper deck in right field in Arlington — one of three 500-footers in MLB since 2015, along with Trevor Story's fellow 505 on September 5, 2018 and Giancarlo Stanton's 504 on August 6, 2016. Mazara's was the first one not hit in the thin air of Coors Field."
Chance to be on-court assistant coach and return to recruiting roots appealing to new Underwood hire.
Why did Brad Underwood make the coaching change? It seems to me that moving Jamall Walker to a non-recruiting, off the court position is really a demotion. Was Underwood unhappy with him? What does Stephen Gentry really bring to the table? Do you think the change have a positive result on our record this year? — John K.
The answer to the question about the change to the Illinois coaching staff has been it's to get Jamall Walker closer to his goal of being a head coach by taking on some different responsibilities. So that's what can and has been reported. However, I also see it as a demotion and have said as much in several venues. You don't really see non-recruiting, off-the-court assistant to the head coach types getting a head coaching job.
Stephen Gentry brings a couple of things to Illinois. His knowledge of Brad Underwood's system and reputation as a good Xs and Os coach is a plus. Underwood also gave Gentry a lot of credit for the development of Thomas Walkup at Stephen F. Austin and both Jeffrey Carroll and Jawun Evans at Oklahoma State. Those are probably the top three pre-Illinois players that have played for Underwood at a stop where he was the head coach. I guess we'll see if it was a positive change when the end of the season comes.
Underwood upbeat about team's direction during offseason after first workouts
Your article on Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk today only mentions a "leg injury", which makes me think that's the extent of the detail that has been shared by the team. Just wondering if we know anything more about what the injury is? He's been sidelined for quite a while. — Tom C.
Brad Underwood hasn't given exact details about Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk's injury, which isn't exactly a surprise. Coaches, no matter the sport, are pretty tight-lipped about things like that. It's not just a Lovie Smith thing.
From what I understand it's a stress fracture, but Underwood has said it's not a serious injury. There's no reason to try and push a comeback now when the season hasn't even started yet, and the way Underwood discussed it Monday makes it seem like Bosmans-Verdonk will be back on the court and fine.