Monday, March 26, 2012
10 in-state targets for new Illinois coach
By Scott Powers
Jabari Parker liked Bruce Weber, and it will be important for the next Illini coach to keep that bond.
Now that John Groce is set to take over at Illinois, he'll be hitting the recruiting trail soon after the move becomes official with the April recruiting period being opened again.
Outside of reaffirming the commitments of Belleville East guard Malcolm Hill and LaLumiere guard Jalen James, two of the state's top junior prospects, here's a look at the top-10 Illinois products Groce will have to target.
Reason: Parker, a 6-8 forward, is the No. 1 player in the Class of 2013. He can change a program even if he's only there for one year. Former Illinois coach Bruce Weber had a relationship with the family. Everyone in the country is recruiting him, so it won't be easy.
Reason: Okafor, a 6-11 center, may just be the best player in the Class of 2014 when it's all said and done. He's the best big man to come out of the state since Eddy Curry. He's also likely a one-and-done player. He's ranked No. 2 in the country and is also being sought by nearly ever top school.
Reason: Alexander, who is a 6-9 center, isn't as developed as Okafor right now, but he's getting there. He's had some dominating performances in his young career. He's ranked No. 11 in the country. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has been seen at a good portion of Alexander's games and could be the coach to beat out.
4. Whitney Young junior center Tommy Hamilton Jr.
Reason: Hamilton's stock dropped a bit after sitting out a majority of his junior season with a leg injury, but he's still going to be a high-major recruit. He's 6-9 and can go inside or outside. Illinois has been on him for awhile.
5. Zion-Benton sophomore forward Milik Yarbrough
Reason: Yarbrough, a 6-6 forward, doesn't have the national reputation of the four players ahead of him, but he'll get there, too. He's a big-time scorer, can handle the ball, pass and rebound. The family was also high on Weber. He holds an offer from Illinois.
Reason: White is 6-8 small forward who possesses a number of skills. He even played point guard for his high school team this season. He's ranked No. 19 in the country. Illinois has been on him since his freshman season.
Reason: If you didn't know who Jabari Parker was, you would have thought Brown, a 6-4 wing, was the best player on the floor when Proviso East and Simeon met in the state championship. Brown scored 25 points and was scoring from everywhere. Illinois has offered him. DePaul and Northwestern are also interested in him.
Reason: Schilling, a 6-9 forward, has become a big-time recruit since returning to the Chicago area after spending his sophomore year in Germany. Coaches loves his size and effort. Illinois was recruiting him hard under Weber.
Kendrick Nunn is a 6-2 shooting guard who previously committed to Texas A&M.
Reason: Austin showed at the state tournament why he's already piqued a lot of high-major interest. Austin can get to the basket and is crafty around the rim.
Others to consider: Cahokia sophomore guard Darius Austin, St. Joseph sophomore forward Paul Turner, Benet sophomore center Sean O'Mara, Marian Catholic sophomore guard Tyler Ulis, De La Salle junior Alvin Ellis, St. Rita freshman guard Charles Mathews