Thursday, March 29, 2012
Simeon's Nunn a fan of Groce
By Scott Powers
Kendrick Nunn was a fan of John Groce long before he was hired by the Illini.
ESPNU Super 60 junior guard Kendrick Nunn, who plays at Chicago's Simeon Career Academy, has a previous relationship with new Illinois coach John Groce and could be interested in playing for the Illini.
Nunn made an unofficial visit along with his father, Melvin Nunn, to Ohio and met with Groce in September, 2010. Groce was the second coach to offer Nunn a scholarship, and father and son came away impressed by Groce.
Nunn, a 6-2 guard, is ranked No. 57 in ESPN's Class of 2014 Super 60. He was one of Simeon's top three players along with No. 1 junior Jabari Parker and Marquette recruit Steve Taylor and helped the Wolverines to their third consecutive state title this past season. He played on the U.S.'s under-16 2011 FIBA Americas gold medal team. He was previously committed to Texas A&M.
Groce was introduced as the Illini's new coach on Thursday.
"Me and (Groce) clicked the first day we met," Nunn's father Melvin said on Thursday. "I like guys who I can just talk to. He tries to get to know you, and then you get down to business and everything. He's a good guy for the job.
"I think he's going to get a lot of talent because of his relationships and how he feels about players. I'm actually going to talk to Kendrick about Illinois today. Kendrick knows (Ohio junior point guard) D.J. Cooper. He knows how D.J. played this year with him. He lets his guard play. He runs an up-tempo style."
Melvin said they were impressed by Groce and his staff when they watched Ohio's individual workouts during their visit. Melvin believed his son could improve as a player if he played for Groce.
"I just like the way he works with players to develop," Melvin said. "That was one of my pros and cons with Illinois' coaching staff. Who develops their players? Nobody could give me an answer. Every good coaching staff has a good development coach. I know coach Groce is going to hire someone who is going to be great."
Former Illinois coach Bruce Weber also recruited Nunn. Melvin said they were unsure Illinois was a good fit for Nunn because of all the guards the Illini were previously recruiting.
Melvin also believed Nunn and Parker could end up at the same college. He thought a coach could even pitch a "Fab 5" type of package with all of the state's Class of 2014 talent.
"That's a big possibility," Melvin said of Nunn and Parker committing to the same school. "That's a huge possibility. It's all about would it benefit both of them. Not just go there because they say, ‘Okay, we'll get Jabari and we'll take Kendrick, too.' We won't roll that path. It's got to be, ‘We want Kendrick and Jabari.'
"Somebody's got to put the (Fab 5 idea) out there. If they see it on paper or the coaching staff says it, ‘Okay, we're going to go after these five players in the state of Illinois, each player at a different position,' then these kids are going to be talking about it."