- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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It’s safe to say Illinois coach John Groce is aggressively pursuing point guards.
With just one point guard on his roster in sophomore Tracy Abrams, Groce has made the position a recruiting priority for his 2013 class.
The Illini extended offers to senior point guards London Perrantes (California) and Dayshon Smith (New York) last week and already had offers out to Tyler Ennis (Canada), Demetrius Jackson (Indiana) and Rashawn Powell (Florida).
Groce talked about going after a point guard leading up to the July recruiting period.
“Tracy is going to be a big part of what we do,” Groce said. “When you look at our roster, he’s the only point guard on our roster. We need one. We’re going to do our very best to get one for our style of play, how we attack and fits who we are.
“I think the biggest attribute is decision-making. The thing I’ve learned is you can try to put guys in situations to teach them to read and decision-making, but the best guys I’ve had at decision-making at different speeds and gears and have the ability to make guys better. That’s a trait they have before they arrive.”
Groce has been fortunate to coach a number of quality point guards. He was an assistant at Ohio State when Mike Conley Jr. played for the Buckeyes, and Groce’s Ohio teams succeeded the past three years with Chicago native D.J. Cooper at point guard.
ESPN recruiting coordinator Reggie Rankin said Groce is looking for a very specific type of point guard in his recruiting.
“The point guard position for Illinois under John Groce must have excellent speed and quickness in order to push the ball on the break to apply constant pressure on the defense,” Rankin said. “He also must be able to makes plays and right decisions when coming off on ball screens and if the point guard can shoot that is a huge plus.
“He must be able to make plays at end-of-clock situations and set the tone on defense with his ball pressure. Size matters but talent is more important. He must have leadership ability and be tough on both ends of the floor.”
Illinois had two point guards committed to the program when Groce was hired in late March. Since then, Class of 2012 guard Michael Orris was granted a release from his letter of intent and wound up with former Illinois coach Bruce Weber at Kansas State, and Class of 2013 point guard Jalen James decommitted from the Illini in May.