College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

Noah Best
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Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team:

Episode 115: Starters and sleepers

Illinois established a recruiting pipeline to New York (and the greater Tri-State area) when coach Brad Underwood hired Orlando Antigua as an assistant coach. The Illini reaped the benefits of that pipeline on the recruiting front by landing Giorgi Bezhanishvili and Alan Griffin in the 2018 class, Kofi Cockburn in 2019 and Andre Curbelo in 2020.

Illinois' 2021 recruiting board, though, hasn't been so East Coast heavy. Definitely more of a Midwestern vibe. The Illini are making up for that with their 2022 pursuits, including a Monday offer to Mount St. Michael Academy (N.Y.) guard Noah Best.

The offer for Best, who lives and plays in the Bronx, is the sixth for Illinois for a player out of New York or New Jersey. Best's Illini offer is also his first from a major program. The 6-foot-5, 166-pound guard holds other offers from St. Peter's, Hofstra, Rider, Towson, Bryant, Robert Morris, Manhattan and Stony Brook.

Illinois' venture back into the New York/New Jersey recruiting scene in the Class of 2022 has meant offers to St. Peter's Prep (N.J.) guard Mark Armstrong, St. Thomas Aquinas (N.J.) guard Jaquan Harris and the Our Saviour Lutheran School (N.Y.) duo of Jaquan Sanders and Silas Sunday. Also counting in that group is five-star guard Zion Cruz, who left New Jersey for Oak Hill Academy (Va.) this summer. 

Scott Richey covers college basketball for The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).