Looks Like University Of Illinois - Adam Miller
I'm feeling a little rant-y. So you know that thing I do where I'm supposed to be writing about a recruit but instead I'm ranting about some recruiting thing and then I finally get to the eval? This is one of those. But not in the way you might think. Here's my rant.
Recruiting is impossible to follow. I should know - I've been doing it for decades. It took forever waiting for the Sunday paper that would have the Parade Magazine All Americans so I could tear into it and see if there were any Illini players. I purchased Street & Smith's and Athlon and any other magazine like that so I could look at the players joining Illinois football and basketball. Pre-Internet, there were very few ways to follow recruiting, but I found them all.
Post-Internet, it's basically impossible. Especially in 2019. There's too many people telling you what you want to hear. An interviewer will ask a player "would you say that Louisville has been on your mind since your visit?", the player will respond by saying "yes, Louisville has been on my mind since the visit", and the reporter will write the article: "Smith says Louisville has been on his mind ever since his visit". There's a never-ending supply of things we want to hear. I don't care if they turn out to be false - take my money and tell me what I want to hear.
Because of this, there has arisen an entire army of recruiting deniers. Look to any message board. Every recruiting move is met with "meh - talk to me when he actually enrolls". We're a fanbase that has been particularly stung - Eric Gordon shows up at Yogi's, Cliff grabs two hats, Quentin Snider hasn't sent in his LOI yet - and so even when Andre Curbelo signs, people will still "meh - he could ask out of his LOI in the spring and we're right back to where we were".
I bring up that side to tell you that I am not that side. I still follow recruiting and live and die by the decisions of 17 year-olds. Why? Because it's everything in basketball. Three great recruits can change a program. I don't need to go over all of that again - how we haven't had a name reach the heights of "Deron" or "Frankie" or "Kenny" since Dee and Deron left town, and as such, we haven't had teams like 1989 or 2001 or 2005 since Dee and Deron left town - but that's how I see this. We need the next Bruce Douglas, Nick Anderson, or Brian Cook to bring us back to where we all want to be.
In 2019, with Twitter, there's now access to immediate information. Don't worry, this isn't a "social media is bad" rant, either. I used to learn of Illini recruiting decisions in the newspaper. Now, I can watch the decision on some live stream. I don't think I'll ever go more than 15 minutes without knowing about a recruiting decision. If I don't see it on Twitter, some friend will text me that so-and-so committed.
Because of that, the hills on the rollercoaster are closer together. Just take the last week on social media. We're convinced Adam Miller is ours because of things called Crystal Balls and Futurecasts. Then, a tweet about a Michigan visit which gets deleted. Then, some "smoke" indicating a possible visit to Michigan. Wait, maybe not? OK, that's not happening so he's probably still ours. Wait, this guy with a blue checkmark said it's going to be Arizona? Alright, nothing followed that prediction so it's probably just one guy. But I'm nervous going into this live stream.
Then, ELATION. It's Illinois! Followed by depression less than 20 minutes later when he says that he hasn't signed, will wait until April, and is still "evaluating all options". For some, that brings out social media anger and "THEN WHY COMMIT TO ANYONE?". The rollercoaster goes up, the rollercoaster goes down. I'm sure you could find some Michigan carnival barker selling inside scoop on "why the Adam Miller recruitment might not be over - GET INSIDE". Play the circus music.
At the center, though, is a kid who just wants to play basketball. And that's the thing that must never, ever, EVER be forgotten. At the center of all of this is a kid with a dream of the NBA. He's chasing this dream, and in chasing it, he can do whatever he wants. I'll pause and say it again.
He can do whatever he wants.
If that means committing to Illinois but not signing and "evaluating all options", so be it. It's his future, and he gets to decide it. If it's because he wants to wait and see what kind of minutes might be available at Illinois in 2020/21 and he can best decide that in April, so be it. If it's because he wants to make sure this coaching staff is still here next spring, so be it. If it's because he knows he has all the cards here and really doesn't have to sign anywhere if he doesn't want to, so be it.
We all want Illinois basketball to return to being ILLINOIS BASKETBALL, right? Then these are the recruitments we need to participate in (and win) if we want to get back there. If we have to try to hold off Arizona and Michigan all the way up to mid-April, SO BE IT. That's the road we need to walk to win the recruiting battles for the types of players who can return us to glory.
So I don't fault him for not signing at all. Long video intro that starts 30 minutes late? I'm totally good with it. At the end of it, Ace Wolf pulls out an orange and blue wolf mask with an "I" on it, and that's the kind of thing that can get us back to sleepless nights before a massive Elite Eight matchup. I'm good with all of it.
You do you, kid.
OK, so maybe I should actually write the LLUOI post. Let's start with an update to my RSCI list (all Illini players appearing on the RSCI list since it began in 1998). 2020 recruits in bold:
19 Dee Brown
20 Brian Cook
21 Frank Williams
24 Jereme Richmond
28 Richard McBride
29 Adam Miller
29 Meyers Leonard
32 Ayo Dosunmu
35 DJ Richardson
37 Jalen Coleman-Lands
43 Kofi Cockburn
46 Leron Black
48 Deron Williams
49 Brandon Paul
49 Brian Carlwell
53 Andre Curbelo
53 Brian Randle
57 Kendrick Nunn
62 Roger Powell
65 Mike Shaw
66 Myke Henry
69 Tracy Abrams
70 Malcolm Hill
71 Demitri McCamey
76 Crandall Head
77 Shaun Pruitt
77 Nick Smith
78 James Augustine
78 Nnanna Egwu
78 DJ Williams
86 Aaron Spears
90 Mark Smith
When I'm looking at that, I mostly see the guard pairings. The success of the teams, obviously, will depend on what you put around those guards, but here's the guard pairings I see:
Dee (19) and Deron (48) in 2002
DJ (35) and BP3 (49) in 2009
Miller (29) and Curbelo (53) in 2020
When you add in what other players are around them - for Miller and Curbelo the frontcourt is Kofi and Giorgi - then you really start to see the potential of this future roster. The plan seems very simple:
- This year, Ayo, Trent, Feliz, Giorgi, and Kofi with Griffin, Williams, Kipper, BBV, and (if he ever gets un-suspended) Tevian Jones off the bench.
- Next year, Ayo goes pro, Feliz and Kipper graduate, so it's Curbelo, Trent, Miller, Giorgi, and Kofi with Griffin, Williams, Jones, Hutcherson and Grandison (the two transfers) plus your big of choice (Hamlin? BBV? Hawkins?).
Yes, maybe Jones doesn't survive these suspensions. Maybe Kofi goes pro after his sophomore or junior years (or maybe even freshman?). Maybe, I don't know, Giorgi goes off to play in Europe after his junior year. There are a bunch of unknowns, and all of those scenarios mean that Illinois probably had a really good season.
But the point is that these two verbals (Miller and Curbelo) fixed everything. We didn't land our top targets in 2019 (how nice would Liddell and Carton look in orange and blue instead of scarlet and gray?), and because of that, we basically had to add two guards in the 2020 class who would be ready to play immediately. And we added two guards in the 2020 class who will be ready to play immediately.
Which means that it's simple: Ayo-Trent-Feliz-Giorgi-Kofi should be at least a 10-seed this season. Curbelo-Trent-Miller-Giorgi-Kofi has the potential, even with two freshmen, to improve on that in 2020/21. Curbelo can handle, Miller can score, the frontcourt should take a step forward (if everyone returns).
And because of that - because we HAD to land a Miller in this class and we did - I'm going with five Cruises.
Adam Miller - five Tom Cruises.