Illinois Point Guard Recruiting: The D-Jax-taposition

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

John Groce is paging all point guards to suit up for the Illini. Has he found one from Illinois' recruiting past?

I apologize for my terrible attempt at a play on words. After my last sob fest of a post on the 2014 football class, I thought I'd try to lighten the mood by being clever.

D-Jax-taposition. Get it? I can't even define it myself. The word "juxtaposition" does make sense here, though. We'll bring it together full circle at the end.

Demetrius Jackson, a 2013 PG from Indiana, spurned the Illini and chose to play for Notre Dame. Earlier this week, news came out of South Bend that Demetrius would not be in attendance for ND's game Tuesday night, and that coach Mike Brey would address the situation in a press conference. Demetrius also tweeted that he had worked out with his former AAU coach.

Let the Illinois basketball fan base speculation wheel start turning! And, boy, did it ever. Page after page of message board conjecture and banter discussed a possible transfer to the Illini. Twitter feeds were blowing up with by the second updates. Fans were even reaching out to ND sports reporter's to find out anything they could.

Well played Illini Nation!

This all just so happened to coincidentally take place after John Groce and the Illini were reported to be back in the Jalen Brunson sweepstakes. Illinois was seemingly out of this race after the commitment (and later decommitment) of Quentin Snider. You can catch up on that detriment to Illini recruiting in Jack's update from last week.

In summary, Groce was recruiting Brunson and Snider. Snider committed. Groce didn't handle Snider's commitment the way the Brunson camp would have liked. Snider decommitted. Groce tried to reach back out to Brunson and was denied. Groce has recently earned their trust back. And here we are today.

Now we have two highly coveted point guards with not so delightful Illini basketball pasts:

  1. A touted recruit that Illinois already lost out on who may or may not look to transfer without any inclination that Illinois would be his destination
  2. A touted recruit from the state of Illinois who cooled on the Illini after Groce stopped recruiting him that has recently reopened that door to the staff but is far from a lock to committing
Demetrius Jackson is a prototypical John Groce offensive style point guard. He's strong with the ball, defends well, gets to lane at ease, and distributes to his open teammates supremely. He would look oh so good on the Illinois roster right now and for the future.

All reports coming from the Notre Dame and Jackson camp are that he's still firmly dedicated to playing ND hoops. His guardian went as far to publicly say that he's not transferring in a recent interview. Making that statement seemingly means that we fans should move on and not get as giddy as children on the night before Christmas waiting for this transfer to happen. Usually, where there's smoke there's fire, but this is becoming a pipedream. We'll see how it plays out.

Jalen Brunson is the highest rated PG prospect from Illinois in the 2015 class. The kid can flat out handle the ball. He's an efficient scorer with elite floor vision. He's fundamentally sound and a great leader. His father is a former NBA point guard, so the pedigree is there.

John Groce made it a point to fly in from Columbus, Ohio last night to watch Jalen drop 20 points for Stevenson (the second game in a row Groce has attended).


This is a recruitment that Illinois has to be in. A top rated, in state kid not even considering the state school would be a serious failure on the part of John Groce and his staff. It's great to see Groce back at games with a positive vibe surrounding the situation again. Now, the Illini need to make Jalen's final list of schools and continue adding to an already potent 2015 recruiting class.

Back to the juxtaposition (I told you we'd come back to it), we have the comparison of two great point guards whose Illini futures are forseeably quite contrasted.

Will Demetrius Jackson transfer to Illinois? This doesn't look to be happening.

Will Jalen Brunson ultimately choose the Illini? Illinois is is being mentioned with Brunson again. At least a sense of optimism has returned to this recruitment.

What does the future hold? Hopefully, a highly rated point guard from the state of Illinois that plays high school hoops in the northern Chicago suburbs.

And lastly, here's to an Illini win over the Buckeyes tonight!

G - O Illini GO!

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