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#AskTCR: Does Jaylon Tate Heal All Wounds?


Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

It's Wednesday, Wednesday, gotta #AskTCR on Wednesday. Everybody's looking forward to the answers.

Why did I just write that? I have no idea. I didn't get a lot of sleep last night, I have no idea why I'm doing anything other than sleeping at the moment. Anyway, a lot has happened in the land of the Illini since last week's #AskTCR, and not surprisingly, a lot of you have questions you'd like to see answered.

I'll do my best to answer them without falling asleep.

Actually, I'm going to take a really quick nap. So read these instructions on how you can submit your questions for next week's Mailbag, and wake me up when you're done.

There are two ways to ask The Champaign Room your questions. You can tweet them at us on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTCR -- it just makes it easier to keep track -- or you can email them to us at And if you've got a personal question and you're worried about your privacy, just tell us. Well change your name to Tom Crean when we publish it on the site. And remember, you can ask us ANYTHING. It doesn't have to be about Illinois or even sports.

Huh? Wha? Where am I? Oh, yeah, okay, let's get to the questions.

I've had a lot of questions like this this week so I'm going to try to answer them all here. The truth is that Quentin Snider's decommit was a bigger problem to me than Cliff picking Kansas. We never had Cliff, and even if we did land him, odds are he was only going to be here for one year before going to the NBA. Now, he'd have had a huge impact on recruiting in Chicago, but as far as the team itself was concerned, he'd only have been here for that one season.

Snider, on the other hand, was going to be here for a while. However, when Snider first committed it was easy to assume that he'd take over the starting role once Tracy Abrams graduated. Well, that's not so obvious now with the way Jaylon Tate has played so far as a freshman. Now, I'm a huge fan of what I've seen from Jaylon and I think we might have found ourselves a player that is much better than the three stars in his recruiting profile would lead you to believe. However, I also think there's one thing we need to remember.

Including exhibition games, Jaylon has played six games with the Illini against teams like McKendree, Northwoods, Alabama State, Jacksonville State, Valpo and Bradley. While we should all be pleased with what we see, we should also check ourselves in thinking that Tate's going to be magnificent already as well. Let's wait until the competition starts getting a bit stiffer and see how he handles himself then.

That being said, I'm very optimistic about his future. He's not a real scorer, but he does everything else you want a point guard to do, and if he could develop an outside shot over the next few years we could be looking at our version of Ohio State's Aaron Craft.

Which makes me feel like the Illini don't have to go after another point guard in the 2014 class like others have also asked, with JaQuan Lyle's name being brought up. We know the Illini made an offer to juco PG Josh Gray, but I don't know how interested he'd be in coming to a place with so many guards already on the roster. As for a guy like Lyle, I think some of us are all stuck in Bruce Weber mode. Just because our top target said no doesn't mean we have to scramble and go after a guy just to go after a guy. And while JaQuan Lyle is certainly more than just "a guy" I can't help but feel there was a reason the Illini backed off on him even before Quentin Snider became an actual option.

So I don't think that's going to change now. However, while I'm not worried at all about the point guard position next season, I do have some concerns about this team not having an experienced true point guard off the bench in 2015 behind Tate. But there's a lot of time between now and then, and who knows what might happen.

I already went over this in pretty good detail on Monday, so instead I'll approach it as which of those players I want more than the rest. Personally, I'm stuck between Charles Matthews and Carlton Bragg, though I'm kind of leaning toward Bragg.

Don't get me wrong, I'd be thrilled with either, and politically Matthews would probably be the more important player. However, when I watch Bragg I just feel like I'm watching a future superstar. And when I say that I'm not saying Matthews won't be really good, because I think Matthews might be the best shooting guard I've seen in a long time. What I mean is, with Bragg, I just see somebody who can develop into being something really special.

You touch yourself at night.

Well, I don't know, it's not really my decision, but you aren't being catfished I swear. But as for showing up at an Illini game, the only negative about my job of covering college football for CBSSports is that I don't just get to go to games on Saturdays any more if I want to. For instance, this weekend I would totally buy those cheap ass Purdue tickets and make the drive if I could, but I can't because I need to work, and Illinois-Purdue isn't really the game CBS wants me on this weekend.

For some reason.

As for showing up at a basketball game once the season is over, well, I'd have to do so as a fan. The school won't credential The Champaign Room. Though I may make my way to a game at some point this season, even though I'd really prefer being able to do so with a credential so I could tweet hashtags in CAPS during the game.

Do you want to chip in $15 and split a couple dozen tickets to the Illinois/Purdue game with me? We could buy up an entire row and then lay down on the bleachers in sleeping bags, enjoy some nachos, and settle in for a nap. - Scott Stein

Yes, I do, but like I just told Taylor, I can't. But a nap really does sound so good right now.

This is a hard question to answer because I don't know that I hate anyone enough to subject them to that, but at the same time, I don't think going to this game would be a bad thing. THE ILLINI MIGHT ACTUALLY WIN THIS GAME. So would it really be punishment to force five people to watch the Illini win? Even if it's in West Lafayette?

Man, I don't know. I feel like Nnanna is big enough that should he continue to develop he'll get a look from somebody in the NBA, but I don't think it's a sure thing. As for the rest of the roster, not at this point, no. That could change over the next few years, but honestly, at this point, aside from Nnanna I'd say Leron Black has the best chance to get to the NBA based on nothing more than his potential as a player.

But to change the subject a little bit, it should be pointed out that the lack of NBA players on the Illini is a major reason why we have such trouble landing players like Cliff Alexander. We just haven't produced NBA players consistently enough. Yes, Meyers Leonard was a lottery pick, and that's great, but schools like Kansas, Kentucky and Duke are churning out lottery picks every season. So for players like Alexander, who are only looking at college as that place they have to go for a year before going to the NBA, they're going to pick the schools that are consistently getting guys to the NBA.

Until that changes here, we'll probably continue to have a very hard time landing those kind of players.

Doesn't really work as an answer to your question, but I'd have the school truly start giving a shit about athletics, because there are a lot of people in positions of power at the school who don't want the school to become to strong athletically. They want the school to be known for its academics, and I get that, it is a school after all.

However, being successful athletically doesn't hurt a school academically. If nothing else, it helps. Strong athletics bring in more revenue, and that revenue can be used throughout the entire school. It can be used to higher better professors, or just make improvements in general.

Also, strong athletics leads to students who might not have otherwise considered Illinois to start considering Illinois. And the more students who want to come to your school, well, that means you can be more selective in who you accept AND ALSO LEADS TO MORE MONEY WITH WHICH YOU CAN USE TO IMPROVE ANY DAMN PART OF THE SCHOOL YOU WANT.

So, yeah, the one thing I'd change is the school's attitude toward its athletic programs.

Any chance we could/would jump on board with turquoise jerseys (in honor of Native Americans)? -- Mike Girdwood

I'd assume it's too late for that now, but no. From a logical standpoint, the school isn't going to do anything with Native Americans right now. I don't care which side of the Chief fence you find yourself on, it just doesn't make sense for the school to do it.

From a practical standpoint, why the hell would you want to wear those ugly things?

Because I don't have the time nor the interest in doing so. It's important to remember that my TCR Top 40 is based on a formula I put together. Well, there are 125 FBS schools that play once a week in football. So to put those rankings together I need a few hours between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

In college basketball there are 351 teams who play multiple games a week.

No. Not doing that. No.

Nick Saban. He's gotta be tired of winning all the time and looking for a real challenge.

None. None mini-Ditkas. I don't want to spoil my prediction for this week, but I will anyway. We're going to win on Saturday. And we won't need any damn mini-Ditkas.


Both have already happened. It was Jose Abreu.

It's Thanksgiving, what the hell else are you supposed to do? Eat and watch football. That's it. Maybe go out and get really drunk one night to help ensure you spend an entire day sleeping.

Well, those helmets we wore last week weren't really new helmets as much as they were just helmets we were wearing for that game. I liked them. I wish we were in a position where we could do something other than put the state outline or a Block I on the helmet as a logo, but I liked them.


Thanks for the questions! If you submitted a question that didn't get answered, don't worry, it's possible that I'm just saving it for the next mailbag. It's also possible the question sucked and you need to ask better questions next time. I guess you'll just have to wait to find out.

Follow The Champaign Room on Twitter at @Champaign_Room and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Tom Fornelli on Twitter at @TomFornelli.