Sunday, September 30, 2007

Verdell Jones could stay in Champaign

Verdell Jones was on campus for the big win against Penn State yesterday, and is probably on campus often, since he goes to high school at Champaign Central. Even though there are not many who think Verdell will stay in Champaign, I would not be surprised to see things work out that way. Jones is being looked at by a long list of major basketball programs, including Kansas and Kentucky, and the Illini have not landed anyone from the class of 2008, so don't be surprised if Verdell Jones stays in town.

Scout Profile

Rivals Profile

DJ Richardson rumored to be headed to Champaign

DJ Richardson is rumored to be heading to school at Champaign in 2009, according to reports from his coach. Richardson is a highly rated shooting guard from Peoria, and the Illini have always done well with recruiting Peoria-area players.

Dee Brown moved his game to Turkey

Rather than competing with multiple players for a point guard spot at Utah this year, Dee Brown has moved to Turkey with a new contract in hand. Good luck Dee!

His blog is really nice, he is actively writing about his new team and location, so it is a good one to read periodically. Dee Brown's Blog

Mario Little Rumors Updated

Mario Little is expected to make an announcement regarding his decision on Tuesday of this week. There are also rumors that Kansas coaches are headed to Florida in the middle of this week, but I am not sure if there is a connection. It seems like Kansas may be in the lead, but Illinois probably has a chance at landing Little. If I had to put money on this situation, I would bet my money on Bill Self. Sorry Illini fans, I really do hope we land Mario, but I just don't feel good about this one. Kansas is projected to lose a few players after this year, which would open up playing time for Mario Little.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Basketball Players at the Penn State Game

It was a great win for the football team today over Penn State, I must say I did watch most of it, and the basketball team did get on the field in their pink shirts in advance of Illini Madness. Photo courtesy of a poster on

In terms of recruits at the game, reportedly Mario Little was there, Jordan Prosser and Verdell Jones, the local guard phenom. I hope they were all impressed with the Illini win and pink shirts.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Paint the Hall Pink, Illini Madness 2007

This year's Illini Madness (formerly Midnight Madness, but now schools can hold their first practice any time after 7pm) sounds like it will be truly a unique night. Entrance to the event requires a Pink Illini Shirt that will raise funds for Coaches versus Cancer. If enough fans go this year, it could help produce some memorable phots of the Assembly Hall. The event starts at 9pm on Friday October 12 at the Assembly Hall. Events that evening:

Men's Basketball Scrimmage
Shooting Contest involving Men's and Women's Teams
Dunk Contest

If you can make it, please be there to support the Illini. This might be an important recruiting event as well. Anyone know which recruits will be attending this year?

Mario Little Considering Illini

Mario Little is wing who plays for Junior College Chipola, and played high school basketball at George Washington in Chicago. Mario has listed his final three as Kansas, K-State and Illinois. Mario is visiting Champaign for Midnight Madness this weekend, and this is his final visit of his top three schools. Little would be a huge recruit to land, and would really complement the team next fall, since he is a wing and is really highly regarded with a huge upside.

Some information on Mario Little:

-Height is 6-4
-Weight is 185
-Chipola Junior College, George Washington High School
-Little is a big time scorer, who would contribute right away for Illini

Scout Profile

Mark McLaughlin Considering Illini

Mark McLaughlin is a shooting guard prospect from the class of 2008 who had committed to Washington State before de-committing in July of this year. Mark has announced his new final three are: Nevada, Oregon and Illinois. Mark is apparently going to the Illinois Midnight Madness as part of a campus visit, so I hope it is a really good show this year. Maybe Jerrance Howard and the Jordans can help Bruce close him.

A quick summary on Mark McLaughlin:
-Height is 6-4
-Weight is 175
-High School is Inglemoor HS in Kenmore, WA
-Rated 4 Stars by
-His specialty is perimeter shooting, catch and shoot three pointers
-Needs to work on being more aggressive scoring, ballhandling and strength.

Scout Profile

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jerrance "Snacks" Howard Hired as Illini Assistant

It's now official, Jerrance Howard is the new Illini Assistant Coach and recruiter for Chicago! Congratulations on being selected and get recruiting those remaining players from the 2008 class.

I am starting to realize what a nice choice Howard could be as an assistant coach as I read about what former Illini players are saying about Jerrance Howard. Link

This move could really benefit the Illini by having people like Luther Head, Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Brian Cook staying involved with the program. Plus, it doesn't hurt that Michael Jordan is taking the players out for dinner occasionally. What more could you want to recruit some talented high school players?

Finally, I think Jerrance is the guy who was recruited by Kruger, played for Self and finished playing for Weber. What a great perspective to bring to the high school kids, since he learned from some of the best coaches out there.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Illini Expected to Announce New Assistant Tuesday

Based on my sources and published information, I expect we will hear the formal announcement later today (Tuesday) that Jerrance Howard is the new Illini assistant basketball coach, replacing Tracy Webster, who took a coaching job at Kentucky. Jerrance Howard played for the Illini in basketball, is well-liked by the coaching staff and players that played with him, and seems like an all-around good guy. He does not have a proven record in recruiting or coaching, so he seems like a marginal selection from that standpoint. However, he fits many of the needs of Coach Weber, with his energy, enthusiasm, and excellent votes of support from NBA players like Deron Williams, Luther Head and Dee Brown.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Timeline for new Assistant Coach

Here is an update from a poster on Illinois Loyalty.

"Weber told donors at the golf outing in Savoy yesterday that the search is down to 3 or 4 candidates and that the decision will be made by the end of this week or the start of next week. Didn't give any hints about who it will be."

So we are looking for an announcement on Friday the 14th at the earliest and Monday the 17th at the latest. I hope Weber hires someone who can help him in recruiting some top level high school athletes. He is a great coach, so I am less concerned about someone who can help him coach from the bench.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Candidates for Illini Assistant Coaching Job

If I had to guess tonight who the leading candidate is for the open assistant position, it would be Jerrance Howard. While Jerrance is a good guy who played a little (and I mean little) basketball for Illinois, his credentials seem weak, so I hope I am wrong about this. Jerrance has little experience at the college level, has no experience at recruiting, and probably has limited ability to recruit the Chicago area right now.

Robert Smith, the head coach of Simeon High School is publicly expressing interest in the job, but is having trouble getting an audience with Weber. To me, this means he is not being considered, and he is off the list. But what little I know about Smith (great high school coach, from the Public League, huge supporter of Illinois, etc.) makes me think he SHOULD be considered by Weber.

Other people mentioned include Dennis Gates, Billy Garrett, Gene Cross and Dickey Simpkins. Rather than spend time discussing these rumored candidates, I will try to wait for the announcement.

Tracy Webster and Darius Miller a unique package deal

While I admit these announcements were timed separately (maybe 24 hours apart), it appears that Tracy Webster was hired by Kentucky to pave the way for Darius Miller to announce his commitment to Kentucky. This came right after Miller had stated his decision was months away once he had a chance for some campus visits of his favorite schools. Seems strange to me, but maybe this is how things are done in the NCAA these days.

It would be interesting to know whether Tracy has a signing bonus for landing Miller, since it would be hard to pay the bonus if Miller had already committed. Could he also have been credited with Kentucky landing Liggins? Hard to tell how long Billy and Tracy had been talking about the position.....

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Quinton Watkins back to California

In some unfortunate news, the Illini announced that star recruit Quinton Watkins did not make it through the mysterious process of the NCAA clearinghouse, and therefore could not qualify for the basketball program this season. To retain flexibility for Watkins, he did not start school this fall, and is determining his best options on moving forward.

While I have seen cases of clearinghouse issues, I cannot recall a student athlete that spends several months on campus as Quinton did, prior to being sent home. If he met the requirements of Illinois for admission, why not get him in school to start working on his degree this fall and keep him off the floor to preserve options?

Maybe someone can shed some light on the Illini strategy here, and there are rumors over whether he will be back or not.

Jamar Smith's Redshirt Year

In an recent announcement, Jamar Smith will be redshirting this basketball season. Typically the redshirt rule applies to freshmen and injured players and allows the student athlete to sit out a season and not lose a year of eligibility. In Jamar Smith's case, it seems like the redshirt designation was a compromise between the various parties involved to come up with a solution to retain Jamar Smith on the basketball team, yet keep him from playing this season. Earlier, I had posted my opinion that he should not be on the team. My concern was that someone who drinks as heavily as Smith cannot be expected to shoot straight. Let's hope the time off can help Smith get his act together. The punishment is unusual, but I guess it works for me. Time to move on, since this story has really gone stale.