Lists July 16, 2012
On one hand, recruiting lists mean nothing. Finishing second means nothing. Finish second in the Big Ten standings, and you’re getting a solid seed in the NCAA tournament. Finish second for the latest 5-star recruit, and you might as well have never recruited the kid. Sure, maybe you’re building relationships with coaches for future recruits, but for the most part, a whiff is a whiff. Coaches worry not about making lists – they worry about verbals.
But on the other hand, lists mean a lot. Don’t make the list for a local blue-chipper? That’s some bad PR right there. Get a visit from a kid and then not make his Final Three? Ouch – that’s a lot of effort with zero payoff. And for a brand new coach like John Groce moving from the MAC to the Big Ten and trying to rebuild a once-proud program, maybe lists are important. Start making a lot of Final Five lists and you’ll build a little buzz.
Three big lists were announced this week. Two good, one awful. Let’s break ‘em down.
UK, Stanford, Michigan State, Kansas, Florida, Duke, BYU, Georgetown, Depaul, UNC.
Ouch. Ouchy ouch ouch. It took all of 39 minutes for the Chicago Tribune to have a PARKER SNUBS ILLINI story on their website. As they should. When the top high school player the last few years is from Chicago, and he names DePaul to his list of 10 teams but doesn’t name the Illini, ouchy ouch ouch.
Were we going to land Jabari Parker? No. We’ve only ever landed one player like that – Marcus Liberty – and that was when Lou Henson and Jimmy Collins were deeper in Chicago than we’d ever been. Just like Self had no shot at Eddy Curry or Darius Miles, Groce had no shot at Parker. That’s just the way it is. You have to build and build and build until the door opens to top-10 kids. Bill Self was right on the cusp of that, and had a verbal from top-10 kid Charlie Villanueva, but then, well, you know.
Fun fact: what is the highest ranking of any player we’ve landed in the last 20 years. Did you guess #19? Because you’d be right. Dee Brown was #19 in the RSCI, which ranks him higher than Brian Cook or Frank Williams or Jereme Richmond. So when you haven’t landed a player ranked #1 through #18 for 20 years, no, you’re probably not going to land the #1 player in any class.
But not making the top-10 still hurts. Especially after his “I grew up wanting to be a Fighting Illini” interview back in April. He says that… and then puts DePaul and Stanford on his list while leaving off Illinois. Ouch.
Syracuse, Louisville, and Illinois
Well that was certainly a nice consolation prize. A few days after ouchy ouch ouch, 5-star point guard Tyler Ennis tells Zagsblog that his top-3 are Syracuse, Illinois, and Louisville. And they quote him as saying “everybody’s pretty much on the same level.” This one will happen quickly, too, as his father told Zagsblog that Tyler would be making his decision in August.
What are our chances? I’d guess fairly slim, to be honest. 5-star point guard from Canada who plays his high school ball in New Jersey – just feels like a Big East player, no? I’m big on that. If this is a kid from Madison, Wisconsin picking between Illinois, Syracuse, and Louisville, I feel pretty good about our chances. New Jersey by way of Canada? Feels like Syracuse.
But it would be a monumental verbal if Groce could reel him in. Rivals ranks him #20 nationally, and Scout ranks him #22. Get him to creep a little higher in the rankings, and WHAM he’s the top Illini recruit in 20 years.
Memphis, UCLA, Illinois, Marquette, Oklahoma St, and Florida State
This list came out last night on Chicagohoops.com. And it’s quite the diverse list. C-USA, Pac-12, Big 10, Big East, Big 12, and ACC. Somewhere, the SEC is slowly kicking a pebble down the sidewalk.
Sounds pretty good, right? A top-50 guard from Simeon who we could combine with Malcolm Hill to build a nice little first class for Groce. Well, I hate to be that guy, but might I remind you of this article from ESPN, and the words of Kendrick’s father Melvin:
“Marquette is definitely in there,” Melvin said by phone on Thursday. “Everything Marquette has – their players, they succeed, you’re talking about players, you’re talking about a relationship already there. They’re already in a position to get to that Elite Eight, the Final Four. That recruiting class they got coming in already, it’s already up there for 2013. We’re really, really considering Marquette in that top three (schools.)”
Melvin said his son was considering about 8-10 schools right now and hoped to trim the list to 3-5 schools in July. Nunn is currently considering DePaul, Illinois, Marquette, Memphis, Oklahoma State, Providence, Texas A&M and UCLA.
Melvin thought where Marquette had an advantage over a lot of the schools was it had already proven itself as a winning program.
“You can say DePaul can become a Marquette,” Melvin said. “You talk about Marquette being in the top 15, top 20 in the last 3-4 years. I don’t see them moving out of that any time real soon with the players they already got and the players they already have committed from 2013.
“You really look they’re already in that position, and you’re not even there. It’s someone you should be considering if you want to be in that position when you’re a freshman in college. It’s the same thing when we chose Simeon. Do you want to go to a second-tier school or go to a school to help them continue to go on top? That’s what we’re looking at when picking a school.
“Do you want to have to be the person who has to turn it around? Do you want that pressure?”
That’s also why Illinois could be a difficult sell for Nunn. Melvin said he wasn’t sure new Illinois coach John Groce would have the pieces in place to succeed in a few years.
“It’s something you have to think hard about, especially when you have a choice,” Melvin said. “I think Groce can get it done. If we decided not to go to Illinois, it’s not because we don’t like Illinois, we don’t like Groce. I just don’t know when they can get it done and with who. It’s going to take some 2013 players, some 2014, some 2015.
“We’re talking about three years after he started there. He’s used to winning now.”