Looks Like University Of Illinois - Luke Goode
First full class, only Ayo signed in the fall. Giorgi, Griffin, Feliz - everyone else was in the spring. Second class, Kofi signed in the spring and BBV/Hamlin in the summer. Last year, finally, two signees in the fall. And now a verbal in April? Seven months before Signing Day? What is this world coming to?
I'm not complaining. Remember, I've written "what's the point of following recruiting anymore if we won't learn the names of our recruiting class until the spring of their senior seasons?" before. I spent so much time following so many names in the 2018 and 2019 classes and we landed exactly one player from those names: Ayo Dosunmu. Well, I guess Kofi showed up on the radar in the summer of 2018 even though his recruitment didn't pick up until he visited in December. But still.... here, I'll give it a paragraph.
Spring and summer of 2018 I remember focusing on three names: EJ Liddell, Terrence Shannon, and Kahlil Whitney. But I also remember following several other names: Drew Timme, Quincy Guerrier, and Oscar Tshiebwe to be exact. These were the primary targets, and we were the Crystal Ball leaders for Shannon, so I put him in the lock column and then focused on the bigs we might bring in. We landed exactly zero players from that list. We got verbals from Antwan January in November (who?), then Kofi in January (hurray!), then Bernard Kouma, Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk, and, when Kouma didn't qualify, Jermaine Hamlin in August. "August" as in "his freshman year starts in a few weeks".
At that point, following recruiting seemed pointless. I did the same in the summer of 2017 and we ended up with guys I'd never heard of (Giorgi Bezhanishvili? Anthony Higgs?) signing late. So I was kind of ready to give up on following recruiting. What's the point if we're not going to sign any players in the fall and will simply learn the names after their senior seasons in high school?
Last year, it started to turn back to how things used to be. Or perhaps I should say "how fans of other programs follow recruiting". You learn the names in March-April-May, you follow them in June-July-August, they visit in September and October and you sign your class in November. Last year at this time, we knew the name Adam Miller (we had been recruiting him for years), we learned the names Andre Curbelo and Coleman Hawkins, we followed them all summer (along with others), we signed Hawkins and Curbelo in November and got a verbal from Miller. That's more like it.
Now, with the 2021 class, we already have a verbal. It's April and we've locked down a 4-star shooter on the wing. It's 2002 up in here (do people still say "up in here"? Should I ever say "up in here"?). High school players watch a great season of Illini basketball and want to jump on board early. I could get used to this.
Here's the timeline I came up with on a deep dive through Goode's Twitter. Well, the first thing I did was google interviews with him to see if it's pronounced "good" or "goody" (it's goody). And then I dug through his Twitter timeline. My column:
He's obviously The Athlete at his high school. Quarterback on the football team, star on the basketball team. Pretty much me in high school if you replace "quarterback on the football team" with "6th man on the tennis team" and replace "star on the basketball team" with "star in the high school musical". He says "feed me" when he wants to hit another three; I said "feed me" in my role as the voice of Audrey II in Little Shop Of Horrors. The guy sure looks like plant food to me.
Fall of 2018 the basketball offers start rolling in. First a low major in Indiana (IUPUI), then Iowa. After his sophomore high school basketball season, they really start to roll in. Maryland sees his red hair, shooting stroke, and 6'-6" frame and says "he's Kevin Huerter II - he gets an offer". Butler offers. Xavier offers. Illinois, Stanford, and Northwestern offer. He then plays football again, so the recruiting tweets die down and the football tweets increase, but then, after his junior year playing football, the basketball offers pick back up again. Louisville offers in December (we're now talking this past December). Michigan State offers in January. Marquette offers just a few weeks ago.
During this time he's taking visits. According to this article it was official visits to Northwestern and Maryland and unofficial visits to Michigan State, Louisville, and Illinois. After that article it looks like he visited Illinois again (for the Indiana game on March 1) and Michigan State again (for their game against Ohio State on March 8th). Then COVID hits, he does some virtual visits, and he picks Illinois yesterday.
That's a nice place to start. Multiple visits to Illinois, Michigan State, and Louisville and he comes away picking Illinois. Score one for "get back to the top-25 and recruits will start paying attention".
And the rankings follow with all of that. He's very consistently ranked. ESPN only has a top-60 so far (and he's not listed), but in the other rankings, Rivals has him #98, 24/7 has him #100, and Van Coleman has him at #93.
But perhaps the best news is the fit on future rosters. He's the 3 to go with the Curbelo 1 and the Miller 2, right? It's never that simple, and Miller probably goes pro before it truly happens, but just in general recruiting terms, it's easy to look at, say the 2022/23 season and say "OK, Curbelo as a junior, Miller as a junior, and Goode as a sophomore - there's your 1-2-3." Find a frontcourt and cook with gas.
It should also be noted that in this interview he basically says that he picked Illinois because of his relationship to assistant coach Stephen Gentry. So if you're like me and you've been thinking "Antigua and Chin are the recruiters while Gentry was brought in to be the X's and O's guy", well, it's time for all of us to think again.
There's a lot to like here. We really struggled shooting the ball this winter and we added a 4-star shooter. It feels like this guy should be raining threes on us at Iowa or Maryland but somehow he'll be doing that in Champaign. He comes from an athletic family (his grandfather played 13 years in the NFL, his dad played football at Indiana, and on his mom's side, his uncle is Trent Green). He could have possibly played football in college (one article I found from last fall said his current high school football stats included 1,960 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and 1 interception on the #3 team in the state that was heading into the playoffs), but he decided to focus on basketball. And now he's focused on wearing orange and blue.
I don't want to go too over-the-top here. This is a player ranked right around #100, so sometimes those guys pan out, sometimes they don't. I'd say the baseline here might be... Aaron Jordan? He was ranked lower than Goode, so Goode has a higher ceiling coming in, but what we saw from Jordan in Underwood's system might be what we see from Goode in Underwood's system. Maybe he far exceeds that, maybe he comes up short of that, but I think that's a decent comp.
For Tom Cruises, I think that makes it fairly clear. 4 and 4.5 Cruises go to the sure things, 2 and 2.5 Cruises go to the project recruits, and he's right in the middle of those. Solid pickup, another big piece in the rebuilding of Illinois basketball, and, perhaps most importantly, a kid with IU parents who will now wear Orange and Blue all around the Hoosier state.
Luke Goode - three and one-half Tom Cruises.