Looks Like University Of Illinois - Austin Hutcherson
Working through the inbox here. Knocked out a 90i post, then the Chase Brown LLUOI, then the "feel" of today's practice, now the Hutcherson LLUOI, and then all my notes from practice today will be next. And maybe a Devon Witherspoon LLUOI if I'm feeling really frisky this evening?
I saw Austin Hutcherson (and his family) at the basketball practice last Saturday. They were just leaving at the end of his official visit (and, unbeknownst to me at the time, he was committing right then and there). Austin was in street clothes, so this is not a "how did he look out there on the court?" take, but there's one thing that sticks out: he is lengthy and long.
Like, so long. I searched for a photo showing this and landed on the one above. I'm sure this is very football of me (come on, I'm writing this from training camp), but those are the arms (and hands) of a basketball player. If we look at Tevian Jones and Alan Griffin and Ayo Dosunmu (and maybe even Giorgi), you can see that "basketball frame" is big with Brad Underwood. And Austin Hutcherson has a basketball frame.
The whole scenario here, of course, is weird. Jumping from Division III to Division I? And not just Division I, but a high major? Often you'll see a guy slip through the cracks in recruiting and end up at a low-level Division I school only to transfer to a high major after a great early career (Bryn Forbes transferring from Cleveland State to Michigan State would be an example of this), but a high major talent slipping all the way down to Division III is a whole mess of cracks to slip through.
I bring up Bryn Forbes because at first I thought he was an example of Division-III-to-Division-I, but he wasn't the Big Ten player I was remembering who did this leap. Someone on The Deuce pointed out that Duncan Robinson at Michigan went D-III-to-D-I. Robinson was a big time scorer in Division III, got an offer from Michigan, and ended up as the only player in NCAA history to play in the Division III championship game and then play in the Division I championship game (Michigan lost to Villanova in the 2018 title game).
So if you're looking for a comp, there's your comp. Wiry shooting guard/wing transfers from a Division III school to a Big Ten team and helps lead them to the title game. What's that? You didn't know we were going to the title game in 2021? I guess some of you aren't on Twitter.
I met a guy in a bar at the Lake of the Ozarks back in June. I "met" him because he was wearing a Kendall Gill jersey at a bar in the middle of Missouri and I have to say hello to that guy. He gave me a prediction (which I put up on Twitter that day): Illini were in the Final Four in 1989, 16 years later the Illini were in the Final Four in 2005, 16 years later the Illini will be in the Final Four in 2021. So there you go.
Hutcherson, or "Hutch" as we will all eventually call him, was apparently pursued by more high majors than just Illinois. This article (great article - go read it) by Gary Parrish talks about all of the schools in pursuit. Here's a snippet:
I mean, think about it: two months ago, almost nobody above the Division III level knew anything about this 6-foot-6 guard who led the New England Small College Athletic Conference in scoring (20.0 points per game), 3-point percentage (39.2) and free-throw percentage (88.5) as a sophomore. But thanks to encouragement from workout partners, a YouTube video and some USB drives, Hutcherson entered the weekend with offers from Notre Dame, Creighton and Illinois -- and signed with Brad Underwood's Illini while on a visit Saturday.
Other articles mention an offer from Marquette as well. So that's probably the best way we can get a feel for this kid's talent level. Division III means we will treat this one with a good deal of skepticism. But picking us over Notre Dame, Creighton, and Marquette might tell us that this kid did cause a buzz among high major coaches.
Like, from that article, don't you want to know which coaches he's talking about here?
"It's crazy," Hutcherson said. "Sometimes I look at my phone, and I see the coaches who are texting and calling me, and it's guys I've been watching on TV my whole life."
Maybe it's just Mike Brey and Steve Wojciechowski, but isn't it fun to think that maybe some other big name coaches were trying to get involved?
OK, I'm getting ahead of myself. I need to go back to my "Division III skepticism" and stay there. This is still a longshot. But maybe not?
Hutch will fill a role that has been a concern for future teams: three-point shooting. (Maybe he'll be a less rebound-y Aaron Jordan?) He'll have to sit out this year as a transfer, but in November of 2020, after Feliz and Kipper graduate and Ayo goes off to the NBA, this is the roster he joins:
Trent Frazier (SR)
Da'Monte Williams (SR)
Giorgi Bezhanishvili (JR)
Alan Griffin (JR)
Tevian Jones (JR)
Austin Hutcherson (JR)
Kofi Cockburn (SO)
Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk (SO)
Bernard Kouma (SO)
I'd say "shooter on the wing" is a good add to that roster. Find a freshman point guard to replace Ayo (ranked in the top-50, plz) and it feels like we're still in business (assuming we're "in business" this winter).
If this was a high school recruit (lengthy wing guard) who picked us over Creighton, Notre Dame, and Marquette, I'd feel pretty good. This is a Division III transfer who only has two years of eligibility though, so I'm going to be a little more reserved with my Tom Cruises. I can see the potential for him to be a huge surprise and I can see the potential for him to bust. So that usually means...
Austin Hutcherson - Two and one-half Tom Cruises