Apr 17, 2018

There's some good discussion going on in the comments of the previous post. I responded a few times there, and as I started to do so again, I figured I'd just make it into another post. So maybe this will be more of a Q&A post than anything. I love Q&A posts.

We'll start with this comment:

I think you're really devaluing the role of player development and having a system in college basketball. You sort of alluded to it in your "basketball whisperer" post about Underwood when he was hired.

As much as we love numbers and odds, we have to confront that there's more outliers than just Michigan and Wisconsin. I think the better comparisons for the type of program we're trying to become are Virginia under Bennett, West Virginia as Press Virginia, Syracuse's 2-3 Zone, or Nolan Richardson's 40 Minutes of Hell. That's really what we're attempting to be, in our own way.

When you have a defined system, I think it requires a more sophisticated look at recruiting. You see it other sports too with how they draft and develop talent; look at the St. Louis Cardinals and how they always have young talent (from a Cubs fan) or Belichek's Patriots always finding productive role players that are Day 3 picks or undrafted. It can be done.

Underwood wants to have a system where we force turnovers defensively and get more shots up than the opponent, which becomes especially potent when you have a highly efficient offense.


All good points. I do think Underwood has a very specific system (compared to, say, Groce, who had a very typical college basketball system). You mentioned Richardson's "40 minutes of hell", and we just recently watched Mike Anderson implement that at Missouri and now Arkansas.

Living in Missouri, I got to watch Missouri implement that system under Anderson. When Anderson took over, he was inheriting the mess left behind by Quin Snyder (the Ricky Clemons fiasco, an NCAA investigation). Quin had recruited some talent, but it wasn't the right kind of talent. The first two seasons (18-12, 16-16) were about rebuilding the whole roster with players who could run his system. In fact, the biggest overhaul was his third season when he added four freshmen, a juco, and two transfers (none ranked in the top-100). Combined with transfer (who I want to say was his nephew?) Damare Carroll, he suddenly found the right mix and went to the Elite Eight. He made the NCAA Tournament the next two years as well before taking the Arkansas job.

So that's probably a good comp. When Missouri recruited Laurence Bowers out of Tennessee (who chose Missouri over Pepperdine, Marquette, and UTEP), their fanbase didn't expect an integral part of their future teams. Remember Justin Safford from Bloomington? Went to prep school, wasn't ranked by anyone (the backfilled composite rankings show him as the #310 player in the 2007 class), but he was the kind of 6'-9" athlete that Anderson was looking for in that defense. Ended up being an 8 & 4 guy off the bench for them.

So there are many examples of scheme-specific coaches going out and finding "who?" recruits and having success. Almost all of those teams had stars (which we hopefully have in Ayo and Trent), so hopefully our system guys work out like their system guys.

I'd still feel a whole lot better if we had Colin Castleton and Landers Nolley, though.

I'm not sure what the point is here. Yes, this isn't Dee, Deron and James Augustine, though I recall Deron wasn't even the highest rated recruit on his high school team. It's a class of individuals that fit the system and seem to have that Lucas Johnson quality about them. In terms of quality we're really punching above the weight class of a 14-18 team. Underwood's second year will be better than his first and the team will improve in years to come with these recruits.


I'm not sure about that? With Leron Black, yes, I'd expect next season to be an improvement. Without him, and with Finke transferring, meaning our starting frontcourt is... Kipper Nichols and Greg Eboigbodin (?), I'm just not sure we'll get to 14-18 again. We played 32 games, and with five starters each game we had 160 "starts". We lost 125 of those 160 starts (78%). So we're basically starting over a second time. Like Lovie, Underwood's second team will be significantly less experienced that his first.

Now, maybe some things break our way. Maybe we go to overtime three times again but we win all three instead of losing all three, and with a similar team, that means we go 17-15 instead of 14-18. But I'm pretty sure we'll be picked to finish in the bottom three of the Big Ten next winter.

My point: this class might work out long term, and these project recruits might be great for our system, but this isn't the instant turnaround class we were hoping for when we landed Ayo. It's more of a long-term project class. And, when you combine that with only two John Groce players remaining (Aaron Jordan and Kipper Nichols), this points to a longer rebuild than we were originally imagining.

I think everyone needs to really internalize that all your percentages are completely made up with no real basis to them at all. You make it seem like you actually tracked all the players ranked where these guys were and what percent of them played on a B1G contender. And you didn't. You claim to see everything through odds - but the ones you base your entire opinion of the recruiting class on are totally made up.


Your ability to judge the impact of basketball players on a college team is suspect in general, and you've demonstrated this on this very blog. You were very public about the importance of DJ Williams (who couldn't get a better offer than George Washington) and two years ago you suggested Tim Finke would be as good as Sam Dekker (going so far as to create a hashtag describing him as #OurDekker)

Look - I'm not sure if these guys will contribute to a title contender or not. If you want some real odds in this thread - as Underwood says - 40% of a teams roster turns over every 2 years. So likely several of these kids will finish their college career somewhere besides Illinois. Historically kids who transfer out of a power 5 school do not go to a better program than the one they're on.

They are all at Illinois now and if they are going to play for a B1G title contender - it's going to be here. So really - Ayo's odds of contributing to a conf title team are pretty much the same as Griffin's or Kane's because of the sunk cost of their commitment decision.

I agree with some of the other posters here - you seem depressed, or at least pretty focused in seeing the worst here.

You never know what you'll get with kids before they play (as Mark Smith painfully reminded us), but the range of rankings of this class of kids isn't that far away from those of the teams who've contended for B1G titles the last 5 years with few exceptions like MSU this year who started a group of top 50 kids

Almost every team that contends has a highly ranked kid or 2, a few more top 75 - 100ish guys, some lesser ranked role players and a few diamonds in the rough that over perform their ranking. We're not that far off of the general make up of a B1G title contender. The X factors are coaching and experience - and we just have to wait to see how that turns out.


Lots to unpack here.

As for Tim Finke, I think I've owned that here. But if not, I'll go through it again. Two years ago, when he was ranked as a high four-star (#33 on one list), I dreamed of #ourDekker. That silky wing we can't ever seem to find, right across town, son and brother of Illini. Too good to be true.

And I guess it was. July 1 of last year, Finke released a top-5 of Ohio State, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame and Illinois (and was still rated #83 in the composite rankings). Then, something changed through the July recruiting cycle, and next thing we know, he's committing to Grand Canyon (and it didn't appear any of those five teams were recruiting him). My dreams of #OurDekker were dead.

Was that a mis-read on my part when watching him on film? I think I wrote "Finke >>>> THT" here after watching spring film on both last May, and that will likely appear laughable after four years of college basketball for both. So yes, I won't duck it - my take on Finke (and DJ Williams) should absolutely drag down your opinion of my basketball evaluations.

But that's not really what I'm pointing to here. No, I haven't specifically charted every player. I'm certainly "making up" my odds. But that's the best way I can (generally) quantify things here. Had I done that last fall (charted every team based on "this player has an 8-in-10 chance and this player has a 3-in-10 chance") then I can almost guarantee the top three in the conference would have been Michigan State, Ohio State, and Purdue. And, honestly, since Nebraska got a transfer who was a 5-star in high school and another transfer who was a 4-star in high school, they might have been up there as well. Michigan wouldn't have, though, and they went all the way to the title game.

The reason I make those odds is to refute the "recruiting rankings mean nothing - Brandon Lloyd was a two-star" argument. Yes, Brandon Lloyd hit on long odds. That doesn't change the fact that the next 15 two-star recruits probably won't make the rotation. We might have spotted four unknown studs here, Bezhanishvili and Kane might be our best finds in several decades, and everyone will come to this thread to rub my face in it (I really hope this happens). But it wouldn't stop me from writing this again in three years if the class sets up the same. Odds are odds. And historically, when players rank this low with this few offers, I'd say the players have about a 1.5 in 10 chance of being a program-changer.

Conversely, we got nothing out of the 2010 class, and that class had two top-30 players plus Crandall Head who was a composite top-100 guy. We failed to hit on two 8-in-10 guys and a 6-in-10 guy. But if we land that class next year (say, Whitney, Liddell, and Okoro), you can bet I write the "this class is almost guaranteed to bring us back to the top" post.

Because, historically, statistically, in my view, it would.


Douglascountyillinifan on April 17 @ 03:10 PM CDT

Does this ease your mind?

Bear8287 on April 18 @ 10:09 AM CDT

Probably not. ;-D

#   Name       Points
1    Duke       4655
2    Kentucky   3460
3    UCLA       3238
4    Oregon     3150
5    LSU        3075
6    Kansas     2903
7    N Carolina 2644
8    Michigan   2502
9    Vanderbilt 2435
10   Maryland   2414
11   Mich St    2377
12   Illinois   2144
13   Villanova  2120
14   Notre Dame 2108

IlliNYC on April 17 @ 03:47 PM CDT

We have to hope Underwood is in the Bo Ryan, Bob Huggins, John Beilein type that recruits to a system. He'll pull in the occasional 5-star but knows how to build a team that fits what he wants to do. Take a look at Huggins recruiting class rankings for what to expect here--plenty in the Top 100 (and higher), but a bunch ranked 250+.

Efrem on April 17 @ 05:33 PM CDT

You're still missing the point Robert. Your whole evaluation is off the mark - let alone the fact that odds don't really enter into what you wrote - other than you claim it to be a percentage.

The real question is: can a team with roughly this overall make up in talent in it's core rotation (based on the rankings) compete for conference title. A top 25 kid, 2 or 3 top 100 or so kids, and few others in the 150 range and a few diamonds in the rough beyond that.

The answer seems certainly to be yes. In fact - most teams that contend for conference titles have that basic make up. Outside of the what - 6 or 7 blueblood schools that have 8 top 50 kids on their roster.

You said:

"Had I done that last fall (charted every team based on "this player has an 8-in-10 chance and this player has a 3-in-10 chance") then I can almost guarantee the top three in the conference would have been Michigan State, Ohio State, and Purdue"

Yeah - I'm calling BS on you for that one Robert. And I'll show my work on Ohio State and Purdue (I'll give you Sparty because they're probably in that blue blood group now):

Ohio State 2017 team with 247 Composite Ranking in decreasing order of scoring average:

Keita Bates Diop: 29th C. J. Jackson: Unranked - went to Juco Jae'Sean Tate: 58th Kaleb Wesson: 75th Kam Williams: 78th Micah Potter: 243rd Andrew Dakich: Unranked Andrew Wesson: 274th

Purdue 2017 team with 247 Composite Ranking in decreasing order of scoring average:

Carsen Edwards: 118th Isaac Haas: 82nd Vincent Edwards: 121st Dakota Mathias: 218th P.J. Thompson: 354th Matt Haarms: 352nd Ryan Cline: 159th Nojel Eastern: 69th

Low and behold - our team that you declared earlier couldn't contend for a title has pretty equivalent talent to both tOSU and Purdue. tOSU may have us by a bit with an extra top 75 or so guy, but its not that far off.

Either way how can you possibly claim with a straight face that you would have looked just at the rankings of that Purdue roster and put them as a title contender?

There's two buckets of teams out there these days. Those elite 6 or 8 programs that have rosters full of 5 stars and McD's AA's. And everyone else who generally has one really highly ranked kid, a few in the top 100, a few in the top 150 or so, and some lesser ranked and unranked guys. And they contend for (and win) conference titles every year

This class is on par with those in the 2nd bucket. There's no way you can look at the rankings and make some kind of determination that it doesn't have the potential to contend in the B1G.

Now - you could claim the big class means we'll be really young and inexperienced this year and that could certainly be a factor. But if you're the "slave to the rankings" you claimed to be in your last post - you have to admit this isn't as bad as you made it seem in that post too.

You individual ranking thing from the earlier post makes no sense either. At this point saying Ayo has a 92% chance of playing for a contender and Alan Griffin 16% is silly. If you had declared that a year before they committed - I might agree as obviously Ayo would have had a better chance of landing on a top or title contending team. But now they're both on Illinois so their odds of playing on a contender are exactly the same. They will sink or swim together...... at least for a year

OrangeBlazer on April 18 @ 12:17 AM CDT

You make some good points here, Efrem, but let's also point out where you're fudging the numbers as well: after Ayo, there isn't a single composite top 100 recruit on this roster, much less any "75ish" players. Taking the numbers from 247 (as that is what you used as a comparison tool):

Ayo: 29

Trent: 109

Jordan: 118

Tevian: 119

Williams: 177

Griffin: 247

Kane: 282

Kipper: 282

Feliz: 289

Eboigbodin: 510

Giorgi: no composite ranking I could find

Matic: no composite ranking I could find

Just as Robert may be stretching or fudging his odds, you're doing the same, as this roster (and again, this is based on composite rankings only, which is the standard you used for comparison) doesn't quite meet the "one really highly ranked kid" (check), "a few in the top 100" (zero), a few in the top 150 or so (check), and some lesser ranked and unranked guys (8/12 players).

From your comment on the prior post, this roster is lacking "a few more top 75 - 100ish guys," so we're basically relying on the diamonds in the rough to outplay their rankings. Given that, it doesn't seem a stretch at all to suggest that the odds would be more likely that such a roster will NOT compete for a B1G title than it would.

Is our roster closer to Purdue than Robert suggested? Absolutely, though of course Purdue's roster was filled with returning veterans who had far more experience, which brings up another of Robert's points you've acknowledged but still glossed over. In terms of experience, there are exactly three players with extensive playing time, and a JC transfer. And given your own admission that 40% of a roster turns over every two years (who knows where Underwood got that data, so we'll just have to accept it), then, no, it doesn't seem likely that this class or roster will be the core of an upper division B1G team.

And while the Purdue comparison IS quite encouraging, I would like to see quite a bit more data that a team like Purdue is typical before being persuaded by the argument we're not that far off the makeup of a B1G title contender. Looking at the last 5 B1G champs we have MSU this year (multiple top 50 players); Purdue 2017 (had Caleb Swanigan, 19 composite, but otherwise same roster); IU 2016 (4 top 50 players, and 1 at 53); Wisconsin 2015 (similar to Purdue); Michigan 2014 (4 top 50, including 3 top 30); Indiana 2013 (5 top 50, including 2 top 10).

The point here is, barring more substantial evidence, I think the Purdues and Wisconsins are still the exception, and even if they are more typical than I am willing to concede, our roster as currently constructed is still a ways off from those teams (zero top 75ish guys), without even beginning to consider experience.

Does that mean there is no chance this roster will compete for a B1G title (say, top 4 finish), now, or 2-3 years down the line? Of course not, and that wasn't Robert's point. Even if his odds were made up, barring more evidence, I fall to see how, given the choice of more likely or less likely to compete for a B1G title, the argument that this roster is less likely is a controversial stance. The question isn't one of will it or won't it, but what is most likely, and given all the data we have now, less likely to compete for a B1G is surely the safer bet with the better odds.

IlliNYC on April 18 @ 08:52 AM CDT

Do we agree that West Virginia (#2 in the Big12/#15 in the country/Sweet Sixteen) could've competed for a B1G Championship? Do we also agree that Underwood as part of the Huggins coaching tree is likely following his lead in how to build a team/program? WV had exactly one recruit on their roster last year that came in ranked in the RSCI Top 100.

Esa Ahmad ( 2015 #49).

Other players: Jevon Carter #299, James Bolden #240, Daxter Miles Jr. #352, Brandon Knapper #211, Teddy Allen #248, Chase Harler #260, Lamont West Not Ranked, Wesley Harris Not Ranked, Maceij Bender #208, Logan Ruott (Walkon/Earned Scholarship), Sagaba Konate #158.

Hobie4u2nv on April 18 @ 10:51 AM CDT

Not to pick on your post specifically, but what everyone is willfully ignoring (and I get the desire to be optimistic) is that our recruits weren't just poorly ranked, they also weren't our first choice. If Underwood came in and said, I love Giorgi out of the pinch post, sign that kid up, it would be fair to talk about "recruiting to a system instead of rankings". But no, he offered (and missed on) DeSousa and Castelton and Iggy. So, now it's Spring, the cupboard is bare, we end up with Giorgi and Kane, and we want to claim that this was the plan all along. I'm rooting for our coaches to be so good at identifying and developing players that even their 10th choice (or w/e) ends up being amazing, but we have to admit that the odds aren't with us...

IlliNYC on April 18 @ 11:49 AM CDT

My comment was responding to Robert's post about the potential of winning with recruits ranked lower--West Virginia is obviously a school that has done well under Huggins despite recruits that, as a whole, rank worse than what we have. Or take a look at where South Carolina recruits have ranked--they had a final four team with exactly 2 players that ranked in the RSCI top 100 and the rest 200 or 300-level. Do Huggins & Martin get their #1 choices? I honestly have no idea. But it seems smarter to look at the coaching tree, see what strategy they seem to have in recruiting, and make the connection to what our current coach is doing than the straight-up ranking/odds thing.

Nashvegas Illini on April 18 @ 12:51 PM CDT

Yeah we're hoping this is a West Virginia but the biggest difference for me is that West Virginia wins with 4 yr guys. So does South Carolina. But everything I'm hearing is that we will turn off this roster over and over until we get the level of player that we want or expect. Even then we're hoping to get 1 and done players. We signed 6 guys and our coach is saying 2 to 3 of these kids won't be here in 2 yrs. We signed Tevian Jones telling him that he can go pro in 2 yrs. We are recruiting over a 6 to 7 guy class right now with no seniors on this squad.

That's maybe the best indication of what this coaching staff thinks about these guys. They are recruiting every position the yr after they've signed every position.

OrangeBlazer on April 18 @ 12:12 PM CDT

Of course we can agree that West Virginia would have competed for a B1G championship. But can we also agree that the literally dozens of other teams in P5 conferences with similar rosters who did not make the Tourney or finish in the top half of their conferences would not have (not to mention the hundreds of mid major teams)? For every Purdue or West Virginia we can point to, there are many, many, more teams with similar rosters that did not. Purdue/West Virginia are the exceptions, not the rule.

And that's the point. The question is not whether this current roster will or will not compete for a B1G championship. They may very well, and nothing would be make me happier. The question is which is more likely.

Perhaps coaching and the system will be the difference, though all of this sounds an awful lot like the arguments defending Bruce Weber ca. 2006.

IlliNYC on April 18 @ 03:30 PM CDT

Don't you think it's significant that West Virginia (and South Carolina) are coached by Brad Underwood's mentors? I mean, the piece I'm reacting to is looking at rankings of the recruits and saying "I don't know if we can win with these players". But if you look at the coaches that are Underwood's mentors--they literally recruit lowly ranked players and win at a high level. It shouldn't be surprising (or disappointing) that Underwood is doing the same thing.

OrangeBlazer on April 18 @ 04:23 PM CDT

Certainly it is, and that should provide optimism that Underwood can do this without elite recruits.

But of course those teams win with 4-year, veteran guys, and we're not anywhere close to that yet (nor will we be if the roster is going to turn over every two years).

Bear8287 on April 18 @ 11:33 AM CDT

This all follows out of the whole mindset that recruiting >>> coaching philosophy, which I clearly don't buy into. There are just too many examples where it's clear that it just doesn't work that way. (Anyone do a run down on the composite scores for the Loyola players this year?)

Robert's On Paper article that had the Illini as #3 in the B1G for the 2016-17 season, for a team that couldn't even crack the upper half of the B1G and get to the NCAA tourney, provides some evidence of the folly to that approach.

Trent Frazier: 109

Please list the other 108 freshmen in the country who played better than Trent last season... Sometimes the numbers are also worthless.

I want to a watch a horse race without any jockeys, because all that really matters are the horses. Just roll the ball out there and let the horses go. Oops, I'm mixing my metaphors...

OrangeBlazer on April 18 @ 12:17 PM CDT

Nobody is suggesting coaching philosophy doesn't matter. But for every Trent who outplays his ranking, there are far more examples of recruiting rankings playing out as you would expect, and that the teams that win year in and year out tend to be the teams with the top 50 talent, not the Loyolas of the world.

Of course isn't impossible to win with a system and a philosophy. The question is which is more likely.

And if it were really about system and philosophy, none of this explains why these players are the backup options the staff went to only after their top targets didn't pan out.

Bear8287 on April 18 @ 01:00 PM CDT

Since 2000 this is how the "Blue Bloods" have done in terms of National Championships.

Duke 3
North Carolina 3
Kansas 1
Kentucky 1

If you just want to go by recruiting rankings alone (hey, Duke has four 5 Star players signed up in this class) then one of these 4 programs should be winning it every year and in actuality most years they don't...

The point is, don't get overly hung up on recruiting ratings. System, scouting and coaching can go a long way to making up for those ratings differences (as others have already pointed out). It's part of what makes college basketball so much fun.

OrangeBlazer on April 18 @ 04:25 PM CDT

This presumes that that those Blue Bloods are the only programs who get 5-star players, or that every other title winner did so without elite talent, which is just silly.

It also ignores programs like Louisville (2 titles), Villanova (2 titles), UConn (3 titles), and Florida (2 titles), which, if they are not blue bloods (Louisville absolutely is), they certainly won their titles with more than just 1 elite player and a bunch of guys who outplayed their rankings.

Bear8287 on April 20 @ 02:49 AM CDT

You're still missing the point. Don't get hung up on recruiting ratings.

5-star Cliff Alexander, elite talent? vs. 4-star Deron Williams, elite talent?

Dee Brown: 5-star, Deron Williams: 4-star, James Augustine: 3-star, Aaron Spears: 3-stars. Those ratings don't seem that far off of what Underwood is bringing in with this class. Why all of the angst and hand-wringing?

I'm glad that you mentioned Villanova too. So how many 5-star recruits did they have total in their last 5 recruiting classes (2013-2017)?


Duke will have twice as many in their incoming class next season as Villanova has had in their last 5 combined.

As for Louisville being a Blue Blood, True Blue Bloods don't have to vacate titles (see North Carolina 2005).

OrangeBlazer on April 23 @ 11:23 PM CDT

Much of this post makes little sense. Yes, in hindsight, we would take Deron Williams over Cliff Alexander. But cherrypicking examples of 4-star players outperforming 5-stars with the benefit of hindsight does not prove that a 4-star player is more likely over time to outperform a 5-star, or that recruiting rankings are overblown and don't matter.

Oh, and that class of Dee, Deron, James, and Aaron that "don't seem that far off" from the guys Underwood is bringing in? Everyone of those players was a consensus top 100 recruit. Exactly one player in the current class is a consensus top 100 recruit.

As far as Duke vs. Villanova, you seem to imply that Villanova had two 5-star players, and then a roster of guys who outplayed their rankings, conveniently ignoring the multiple 4-star recruits they bring in every year.

Beyond that, focusing on national titles alone also misses the point. No matter how talented your roster, winning the NCAA tournament is never guaranteed. Just because the teams with the most 5-star players don't win the Tournament every year does not mean that recruiting rankings are worthless. More to the point: how many 1 and 2 seeds have those programs had in that same time span? How many conference championships? THAT is the true marker of success. Doing those things puts you in position to consistently compete for national titles. That's what recruiting rankings are about.

Finally, it's not as if we're discussing whether we can win a national title with 4 star vs. 5 star recruits anyway. The point of debate on this class is whether or not we can get to the top half of the B1G with a roster of players who are inexperienced and rated well outside the top 100. As Robert has pointed out elsewhere, 5/6 of the players in this class are not ranked even in the top 25 of players we've recruited in the last 15 years. Why should we be convinced that THESE are the players who will outperform their rankings? Because Underwood and his staff have a superior eye for talent to fit his system? If so, that begs the question of why these guys were the Plan C and D backup options.

Efrem on April 18 @ 02:31 PM CDT

Fudging numbers is one thing - making them up completely and then suggesting those numbers have significance is another

Clearly tOSU has higher ranked recruits on average than we do and I gave them the edge there. Though I'm not sure how much a difference it really makes. We had two more top 50 guys last year in Smith and Black and had a better base on rankings roster than tOSU look how that turned out

And as you said - it requires some diamonds in the rough to pan out to make it closer. I'd argue we have a few on our roster that have outplayed their rankings. Trent is clearly better than the 109th ranking he ended with. Kipper is also better than 282 (sometimes substantially better).

My whole point in this thread and the other, is Robert's criteria for determining if this team can contend for a B1G title is silly and just wrong. Assigning made up "odds" based on recruiting ranking is asinine. Focusing on the individual (Ayo has a 92% chance of playing on a title contender and Alan Griffin has 16% chance) is dumb. The collective talent of the team is important and ours is very similar to most of the teams that finish in the top 4 of every conference, every year

I didn't gloss over the experience issue. In fact I pointed it out in my response to him - saying if you had said the big class would have experience issues being so young that would have been one thing. But that's not what he did. If we want to talk about the difference in success of teams based on experience- let's have at it

But that wasn't Roberts point. He doesn't think the talent in this class is good enough to compete for a conference title - and he's certainly entitled to his opinion. Where he went off the rails is when he started making up numbers and assigning significance to those made up numbers to try and validate his opinion

Especially when most of the teams that compete for conference titles every year have similar ranked talent to the class we brought in

LincolnJT24 on April 18 @ 12:23 AM CDT

Robert, I’m glad we appeared to find some common ground.

I do agree with your general observation that in a perfect world, a team of top 75 recruits has better odds. But sadly, that’s just not where the Illini basketball brand is. We can dream of Okoro, Liddell/Whitney, and DJ Carton being our next three additions to the program, but that’s extremely unlikely to come to fruition.

So, in the absence of that, we have to hope to be Mike Anderson’s Mizzou/Arkansas programs, or as others have said, Huggins at West Virginia. Of course we all aspire to get back to what we were from 1997ish to 2006, but we have to start by being a program that consistently makes the tournament. If we prove that Underwood’s system works in the Big Ten, I think the sky is the limit for where we could be in 5-6 years. I want three things in the next three years: 1. Minimum of three NCAA Tournament games 2. Ayo Dosunmu is a first round draft pick. 3. Trent Frazier and Tevian Jones are on NBA radars.

If Underwood can do those things, this program will really become a viable option for those elusive top 75 recruits that we agree is needed to restore us to the powerhouse level that we know this program can be.

Hopefully this class is the first step in that long process. Castleton, THT and Nolley, they are not but I think they still fit this system nonetheless.

Joe Edge on April 18 @ 11:49 AM CDT

Yes.... I think I'm in high agreement with most of your comment here... We were (are?) in such a hole, that instant recovery is just not possible. After Harv Schmidt and the one-and-done clean Gene, Lou came into a similar situation. One relatively high ranking player, and lots of 'role-players'.... It took him a long time (I'll say that again - A Long Time) for him to get his program installed and running at a high enough pace to really get the better recruits (note: Plural - recruits) to commit to Illinois on a regular basis...

zuma on April 18 @ 10:32 AM CDT

All good points!

Illinois has dug such a deep hole the last decade, that I would be okay with a slow grind. I don't expect an instant turnaround. We're not Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, etc. We need to win again. Be relevant again. We don't deserve an instant turnaround, and even if we think we were going to get one, how long would it last?

I believe the key to turning this around is to win again, start going to the tournament again, build a great foundation with solid, but maybe not 5 star kids. Then, over time, when we have proven ourselves capable of winning again, the 5 star kids will come and join a solid team already gunning for Big Ten titles.

Of course, I'm probably dreaming.

larue on April 18 @ 03:36 PM CDT

For all the talk about system, what are the special needs of this system, and how do the players we've landed in this class fit those needs? I think we clearly need to be more athletic to play Underwood's defense successfully, and I think two of these guys bring that. Giorgi's passing ability is a fit, but is he good enough at anything else to get on the floor? Other than that, I'm not seeing it.

Hoppy on April 18 @ 07:11 PM CDT


How about you soothe some ruffled feathers and give your percentages on a team that makes the NCAA tourney? I mean, we have to walk before we run. What are the odds these guys play for an at large team?

Groundhogday on April 19 @ 12:12 AM CDT

Looking at the all-B1G teams this year, out of 15 guys only two were not in the top 125 (Happ and Murphy), and most were top 100 recruits. All but a few had numerous high major offers. So yes, it is possible to find hidden gems but the odds aren't good.

Robert on April 21 @ 02:22 PM CDT

Perhaps this is a better way to look at it. The composite scores are complete for each player (their composite rankings when you combine Rivals, ESPN, and 247), so we can take that score and compare it to another Illini player from the past.

For example, Tevian Jones composite score is .9434. The closest comparison to that would be Joseph Bertrand, whose composite score was .9432. So here are the comps for each player (since 2003 which is the first year for composite scores):

Ayo Dosunmu - Jereme Richmond; Tevian Jones - Joseph Bertrand; Alan Griffin - Te'Jon Lucas; Samba Kane - Stan Simpson; Andres Feliz - Jamar Smith; Giorgi Bezhanishvili - Richard Semrau

So the question becomes - how do we feel about a class of Richmond, Bertrand, Lucas, Simpson, Smith, and Semrau?

Bear8287 on April 22 @ 05:19 AM CDT

I think I like my comparison with the Brown, Williams, Augustine and Spears class better. :-D (Thrown in Feliz as a Lucas replacement.)

The incoming class currently ranks around 12th. Why so much negativity? Why choose only Groce and Weber recruits for comparison?

You were happy to give Groce 5 years and now you're ready to throw the new coach under the bus after 1?

Groundhogday on April 22 @ 10:38 PM CDT

I don't think Robert is being negative. Just trying to step back and look at the class objectively. Dee Brown was a McDonald's All-American, Deron Williams was a consensus top 50 recruit. Augustine was a top 100 big man. The class we just signed isn't comparable on the top end. And we have yet to sign ANY big man who looks capable of contributing major minutes right away, a major shortcoming given our roster.

Frazier+Ayo+Jones gives us three guys to build around. But there is still quite a bit of building to do. That is reasonable, right?

larue on April 23 @ 05:35 PM CDT

That '02 class as a whole was also exceptionally strong, and almost unreal at point guard.

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