Here's what we know about the open scholarships the Illini currently have on the roster: there are three of them. That, aside from the fact that John Groce is planning on using all three of those scholarships, is all we know. What we don't know is how Groce plans on using those scholarships, and if he knows, he's not saying.
While Groce told reporters on Tuesday that he'd recruit "aggressively, every day" he also said that all scenarios for those open scholarships are possible. Whether it's on fifth-year transfers, transfers or high schoolers. And while it's possible that one of those scholarships could be going to Seton Hall transfer Aaron Cosby, I think it's a safe bet that, no matter what, the Illini wind up with a fifth-year transfer for the third season in a row.
Which is an area of recruiting that's becoming quite competitive according to Groce.
"They're highly sought after," Groce said. "A coach told me the other day they're almost as highly sought after as top-50 players in the country in the early signing period. It's kind of become that way a little bit, especially if you can find the right guy, the right fit that meshes with your culture and is a good fit for your program.
"We'll have our antennas up. We recruit every day. A guy I used to work for used to say, 'It's like shaving. If you don't do it every day, you're going to look shabby.'"
Personally I think the smart thing to do would be to add one or two fifth-year transfers, as this is a team that could still use some size. While I have high hopes for Austin Colbert and Maverick Morgan, I prefer that neither be in a position where they need to contribute significant minutes right away.
Some names I've seen mentioned -- there is no official link between the Illini and these guys, just typical internet speculation -- lately are Drake's 6'11 center Seth VanDeest, Illinois State's 6'7 forward Jon Ekey and Tulane's 6'8 power forward Josh Davis.
Davis is an intriguing possibility as he averaged 17.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game for Tulane last season, leading the team in both. I wouldn't expect him to put up those kind of numbers in the Big Ten, but even half that production would be wonderful.
VanDeest would be more of a big body, and Ekey is more the prototypical stretch four much in the same vein as Tyler Griffey.