Groce praised as coach, recruiter

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
5:36
PM CT

Here’s what others are saying about new Illinois coach John Groce:

“He has a great basketball mind and a hunger for getting himself and his team better daily. I think U of I has found its answer. The style of play is going to attract big time players,” – Philadelphia 76ers guard and former Ohio State player Evan Turner.

“He is a fantastic recruiter, fantastic. No messing around. No, ‘Well, he doesn’t do this.’ Terrific, terrific in people’s homes, terrific in terms of being able to evaluate. I think you have to be there. You have to be all things to all people when you’re a head coach in the Big Ten. You have to be able to recruit different places, different types of people, different family situations. I think he’s very good at that,” – ESPN college basketball analyst Dan Dakich.

“He’s intense. He’s focused. I think he’s a tremendous head coach. His kids really love playing for him, and he loves his kids, too. I think he’s really grown as a head coach in his four years at Ohio. I think he took what he’s learned from others – Thad Matta, Todd Lickliter – and in Year 4 it’s a perfect storm of it all. It’s all seemed to click. When the lights are the brightest, I think that’s when he coaches his best,” – Ohio play-by-play announcer Russ Eisenstein.

“John Groce is a very energetic guy. He relates to his players extremely well. He’ s a very good recruiter. He’s come into the Chicagoland area and gotten D.J. Cooper, who is an outstanding players out of the south suburbs of Chicago. He’s familiar with the landscape,” – ESPN college basketball analyst and former Illinois player Stephen Bardo.

“He’s a very good guy. It think he’ll do a super job. I know John. He would have only taken it if he was completely sure. John had plenty of opportunities to become a head coach. He took his time,” – Former DePaul assistant and current St. Rita high school coach Gary DeCesare.

“What I know of coach Groce is throughout the years he’s done a great job recruiting wherever he’s been and has moved up the ladder. He’s done everything to move up to be considered for this job. He didn’t ask for the media circus around him. He didn’t create that,” – Illinois Wolves club coach Mike Mullins.

“It’s not a bad hire at all. I think he’s a great hire. I think he’s a dynamite communicator. He’s proven he can get kids to elevate their play. He’ll be able to deal with guys around Chicago. He’ll be able to win guys over,” – Illinois high school basketball analyst and former club coach Larry Butler.


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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