Illinois recruits sad to see Weber fired

March, 9, 2012
3/09/12
5:14
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[+] EnlargeMike LaTulip
Scott Powers for ESPNChicago.comPreferred walk-on Mike LaTulip isn't sure how Bruce Weber's firing will affect his status at Illinois.
Illinois basketball recruits Jalen James, Michael Orris and Mike LaTulip said Friday they were saddened by Bruce Weber's firing, and their future with the Illini likely depended on whoever the next coach will be.

The father and coach for top junior Jabari Parker recently told ESPN Chicago that Parker had a good relationship with Weber and would wait to see what develops.

James, a Class of 2013 point guard, committed to Illinois in June of 2011. Orris, also a point guard, is Illinois' lone Class of 2012 signee. LaTulip, a combo guard, is a Class of 2012 preferred walk-on.

Malcolm Hill, a Class of 2013 shooting guard, also was contacted Friday, but declined to comment. He committed to Illinois in September of 2011.

"I'm kind of disappointed," said James, who attends LaLumiere in Indiana. "I really had a good relationship with [Weber.] I didn't really see it coming. They said everything happens for a reason. I can't control it. I can only control what I can. He's gone. It's probably what's best for Illinois. They had to do what they do."

James also said he wasn't sure about his future at Illinois.

"I haven't really sat down and put any deep thoughts into the situation," James said. "The time will come. We'll just see how it plays out there. I'm just focusing on school and basketball right now."

Orris was hopeful he would remain a part of the Illini's future. He was used to coaching changes after going through a couple during his high school career and thought he could adapt at Illinois.

"I'm still going to the University of Illinois," said Orris, who attends Crete-Monee in Illinois. "I'm a coach's player. That's the bottom line. I fit well. I fit well with every coach there is. Maybe there's a coach who doesn't like my game. I don't know.

"Hopefully, the next coach will like my personality, like my game and move from there and create a relationship."

Orris was also disappointed to see Weber go.

"It (stinks), but it is what it is," Orris said. "Coach Weber is a great coach. I wish him nothing but the best."

LaTulip was worried about Weber's job security with Illinois' recent play, but was still shocked when Weber was fired on Friday.

"It's a day you don't want to come," said LaTulip, who attends Prospect in Illinois. "When I found out this morning, I was really sad. I developed a relationship with coach Weber and the whole staff. He's one of the most genuine, honest and loyal guys I've been around. I was looking forward to him potentially being my head coach for four years."

LaTulip said he still wanted to play at Illinois, but he understood his situation was unique being a preferred walk-on. He had nothing guaranteed to him.

"We'll find out who the next coach is and see where I fall and where I fit and go from there," LaTulip said. "It's always been my dream to play in the Big Ten. Everyone has setbacks in life. This is one of them for me. I think it'll make be stronger. I know my talent level. I'm hoping this next coach feels the same."

As much as none of the recruits were happy to see Illinois struggle this season, Orris said he was excited to get there and help turn the program around.

"That's a huge bullet point," Orris said. "You have a new coach coming in, and you want to get the program to where it's capable of going. There's definitely eagerness for me to be a big part of that. I'll do whatever I can do help the team."
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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