Out of the Spotlight

In the twilight of his fifth recruiting cycle at Illinois, John Groce convinced yet another elite high school talent to spend one of his five NCAA-allotted official visits on the Illini campus. Kris Wilkes out of Indianapolis is a superb talent in the 2017 class, and he made the trip this past weekend for his first official visit. Groce rolled out the red carpet as he always does, but this particular weekend had a little extra Champaign shine on it. [Read more…]

Surviving January

I’m currently apartment hunting, which can be both an exciting and draining endeavor for a recent grad with a low budget in a big city. Looking for lodging as a student at UIUC taught me that (surprise!) things usually aren’t as good as they initially seem on paper. And losing that “student” label has also meant most move-in incentives and leverage over leasing agents are in my rearview mirror. Sure, that rent might look reasonable, but I’ll probably have to pay a large security deposit and move-in fee before I even make the trip to Ikea to shop for furniture. This is no news flash to everyone older than me (and that’s probably most of you), but it’s tricky getting into an immediate groove when there are early roadblocks. [Read more…]

Up Comes Frazier

I’ve never met Trent Frazier, and I’ve never seen him play beyond the YouTube highlights on my laptop. But I’ve already grown to admire the 6-foot-2, 170 pound Florida native, who became the fourth member of John Groce’s 2017 class when he committed to Illinois on Sunday during his official visit to the Illini campus. [Read more…]

Navigating The Aftermath

I just returned from torching my skin on the beaches of southwest Florida for a week, so I apologize for being a few days late reacting to the aftermath of Jordan Goodwin’s decision.

One of Yogi Berra’s most renowned sayings from a lifetime of quirky quips referred to his sport’s frustratingly unpredictable nature:

“In baseball, you don’t know nothing.” [Read more…]

Devil’s Advocate

While Robert is out wandering around football camp, let’s talk some basketball. It’s been a smooth summer overall for John Groce and his staff. On the recruiting trail, they brought 5-star big man Jeremiah Tilmon into the fold and have held the attention of most of their remaining targets in the 2017 class. And their actual players on campus have not only stayed out of trouble, they all seem to have morphed into Bowflex models in the offseason under the tutelage of strength coach Adam Fletcher. [Read more…]

Bye-bye, July

College basketball recruiting is inherently unpredictable. The worst weatherman will usually be more accurate than most recruiting “insiders,” and even coaches themselves are often thrown for a loop. But if John Groce had delivered a detailed PowerPoint presentation to Illini fans on July 1 outlining his goals and objectives — and you wouldn’t believe how many of my undergrad assignments asked us to set goals and objectives — for his busiest month of recruiting season, I’d imagine it would closely resemble how the month actually ended up playing out. [Read more…]

Ride the Wave

Has the Jeremiah Tilmon hysteria worn off yet, now that we’re over a week post-commitment? No? Good. Because the ripple effect from the big man’s decision is still reverberating throughout the college hoops recruiting landscape during its holiest month of the year. [Read more…]

Looks Like University Of Illinois – Jeremiah Tilmon

We needed a big man. We needed a recruiting win. We needed some momentum. Dammit, we needed something good to happen for once. And as I checked my phone on the 7th tee yesterday, huh, suddenly five texts from five different people. Wonder what might have happened. [Read more…]

Boom

There it is. After years of pursuit and months of intensifying whispers surrounding his recruitment, five-star forward Jeremiah Tilmon has officially announced his commitment to play for John Groce and the University of Illinois. This is no time to try and contain your excitement, folks. This is a breakthrough as big as Tilmon’s towering presence in the post. [Read more…]

The Wild Card

On Thursday, I sat down with Illinois redshirt freshman Kipper Nichols following a team photoshoot. Nichols is a 6-foot-6, 220 pound forward from St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio, where he averaged 18.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game as an upperclassman. He originally signed with Tulane but transferred to Illinois last November. Due to the unusual timing of his transfer, the NCAA has yet to determine if Nichols will be able to play right away this season or sit out until the end of first semester. To fans and media, he represents perhaps the biggest unknown on the 2016-17 team. [Read more…]