Chicago Colleges: Leron Black

Scout's Take: Illini score with PG Snider 

September, 12, 2013
Illinois coach John Groce landed his second ESPN 100 prospect when point guard Quentin Snider (Louisville, Ky./Ballard) picked the Fighting Illini over UCLA on Thursday.

Snider, No. 28 in the ESPN 100 and the No. 7 point guard, decommitted from hometown national champion Louisville back in July and many elite programs, including Michigan State and Connecticut in addition to the Fighting Illini and Bruins, put the full court press on the four star true point guard. When it was all said and done, Groce and his staff earned the commitment from the second best player from the state of Kentucky and the city of Louisville (only Ohio State commit D'Angelo Russell ranks higher).

Why did he pick Illinois and what will he bring to the Fighting Illini? Let's break it down.

Leron Black commits to Illinois

September, 1, 2013
Four-star Class of 2014 power forward Leron Black (Memphis, Tenn./White Station) committed to Illinois Sunday while on his official visit in Champaign, picking the Illini over Baylor, Indiana, Memphis and Tennessee.

"Leron has a great relationship with coach John Groce and assistant Jamal Walker, plus the opportunity to play as a freshman and develop into a combination forward was too much to pass up," said Black's AAU coach, Norton Hurd.

Read the entire story.

Recruiting: Cunningham gaining interest

August, 30, 2013
Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin may be biased, but he believes senior forward Josh Cunningham is going to do big things in the future.

"Josh is going to be a NBA player," Irvin said on Friday. "There's three guys that stick out -- Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander and Josh. He's a sponge. He's getting better and better each year. He's tough. He understands basketball. He plays hard. He's young. He's only going to get better."

Cunningham isn't considered by most to be an NBA prospect at this point, but his profile is growing. He's ranked No. 27 among power forwards by ESPN and is starting to get even more recruiting interest. He already has offers from Creighton, DePaul, Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Oklahoma and St. John's, but now Michigan State has also reached out to him. Illinois has also touched base. According to a source, he's a priority for Northwestern.

"Michigan State is coming in hard," Irvin said. "They've been on him, but haven't offered. They have high interest in him. He's got two visits set up in Iowa State and Oklahoma."

Irvin said he expected Cunningham wait until the spring to decide.

Here are some other local recruiting notes:

• Whitney Young senior center Jahlil Okafor, the No. 1 player in the country, is making an official visit to Baylor this weekend. He will be joined on the trip by Tyus Jones, who is ranked No. 3. Okafor is considering Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State and Ohio State.

• Illinois is getting an official visit this weekend from White Station (Memphis) senior forward Leron Black, who is ranked No. 36. Black recently cut his list to Baylor, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee.

• UIC received a commitment from Munster (Ind.) combo guard Drew Hackett on Thursday.

• According to a source, DePaul is working on setting up official visits with Whitney Young senior forward Paul White, who is ranked No. 57, and Christian Brothers (St. Louis) senior shooting guard Pat McCaw, who is ranked No. 87. White recently cut his list to Arizona, Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown and Minnesota.

• Benet senior center Sean O'Mara, the No. 20 center in the country, will make an official visit to Loyola next weekend. O'Mara is considering Loyola, Massachusetts, Seton Hall, Wake Forest, Wichita State and Xavier.

• Illinois will receive an unofficial visit from Ballard (Ky.) senior point guard Quentin Snider on Sept. 29. Snider, a former Louisville recruit, is considering Cincinnati, Connecticut, Illinois, Oklahoma State, UCLA and USC.

• Northwestern offered Fenwick senior shooting guard Scott Lindsey on Monday. Lindsey is expected to make official visits to Iowa, Nevada and Northwestern. He is making an unofficial visit to Vanderbilt this week.

• Simeon junior forward D.J. Williams, who is ranked No. 32, will make an unofficial visit to Illinois this weekend and attend the Illini's football game.

• Hinsdale Center sophomore center Barret Benson, Whitney Young sophomore guard Skyler Nash and Sandburg senior forward Malek Harris, all of whom play for the Illinois Wolves, will attend Marquette's Midnight Madness on Oct. 11. Harris is committed to Marquette. Benson was recently offered by Penn State.

• North Chicago senior JayQuan McCloud will visit Murray State on Sept. 13 and Rhode Island on Sept. 20.

• Chicago State received a commitment from Richards senior power forward Josh Meier on Thursday.

Illini focusing on 2014 basketball recruits

August, 2, 2013
Illinois coach John Groce and his staff have narrowed their recruiting focus for the class of 2014. Here's a look at the players the Illini are recruiting:

Curie (Chicago) power forward Cliff Alexander: Alexander, the nation's No. 2-ranked senior by ESPN, is the priority for Illinois. He would be the biggest recruit in the program's history since the Illini landed Marcus Liberty and Deon Thomas in the late 1980s. Alexander would likely only stick around one season, but he could do wonders for Illinois on the floor in that one year and off the floor in recruiting, especially in Chicago, for many years to come. Groce was glued to Alexander's club games in July. Alexander, his parents and his coaches are said to be in communication with Groce and his staff often. Sources have indicated Alexander is high on the Illini, and those around Alexander are pleased with Illinois' constant contact.

Whitney Young (Chicago) center Jahlil Okafor: Okafor, the nation's No. 1 recruit, hasn't cut Illinois from his list, and Illinois hasn't stopped recruiting him, but his coming to the school likely won't happen. Okafor and Tyus Jones have been adamant about wanting to play with together, and Jones isn't interested in Illinois, and Illinois isn't recruiting Jones. The math is simple. Illinois' hope has to be for Okafor and Jones not to end up somewhere in the Big Ten. They're considering Michigan State and Ohio State.

White Station (Tennessee) power forward Leron Black: Illinois feels as good about its chances with Black as anyone it's recruiting in the senior class. Black, who is ranked No. 36 in the country, has other schools, including Florida, Indiana and Louisville, after him, but the Illini have been pursuing him for some time now and have built a relationship. If Illinois received a commitment from Alexander or Black, it wouldn't mean the Illini would lose out on the other player. Illinois believes Alexander, a big-bodied power forward, and Black, a more slender and high-motored power forward, could play perfectly together and have been trying to sell them on that.

Ballard (Kentucky) point guard Quentin Snider: Snider, who is ranked No. 28, recently de-committed from Louisville and re-opened his recruitment. Illinois has already been in touch and offered him a scholarship. Groce is still looking for his point guard of the future, and Snider could be that. A lot of schools, including several in the Big Ten, are reaching out to Snider, so it may be some time before he creates a list and figures out whether he'll consider Illinois.

Morgan Park (Chicago) power forward Josh Cunningham: Illinois has expressed some interest to Cunningham and his high school and club coach Nick Irvin. The Illini have invited Cunningham to come on campus for a visit. Cunningham has drawn some Big Ten interest from Iowa, Minnesota and Northwestern and has also been recruited by DePaul, but he's still likely a long shot to get an offer from Illinois. If things fall through with Alexander and Black, Cunningham could be Plan C. Cunningham has said he's going to take his time with his recruiting, so that could play into Illinois' favor down the road. Either way, the Illini are covering their tracks in case they want to pursue Cunningham harder at some point.

Other notes:

  • Illinois has been in contact with the father of Marian Catholic (Illinois) senior point guard Tyler Ulis, but the Illini haven't picked up their recruiting of him.
  • Another Simeon player could be on the verge of getting a scholarship offer from Illinois. The Illini have been closely following class of 2016 guard Zack Norvell, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard.



Thursday, 11/27
Friday, 11/28
Saturday, 11/29