The new class of 2015 player rankings were released by Rivals last week. If you're like me, you clicked the "list" next to every 5 star recruit to see if Illinois showed up. "Oh man, what if John Groce somehow got involved with this kid, and we're on his list now?"
I didn't find any surprises this time, but that's okay. Guess why? Because Illinois is listed with "medium" interest for five of the 5 star players. There are only a handful of guys that receive the highest star rating (20 to be exact), and the Illini have a chance with 25 percent of those players in this class.
Will Illinois land all five players? Absolutely not. Will they land any of them? Quite honestly, the odds are very slim. But that doesn't mean we, as fans, can't hold on to hope. I won't mention names, but certain recent recruitments have crushed many spirits amongst the Illini faithful. I truly believe, however, John Groce will land a stud. And land one in this class.
We'll take a look at these players shortly along with other highly touted recruits that list Illinois. Let's first look at where the current commitments show up in the Rivals150.
Rank: 55, 4 Stars
6 foot 7, 205 lbs, Chicago Simeon
D.J. remains the higher rated between the two current verbals, although, he dropped over ten spots. That's understandable as D.J. took on an unselfish role this season for Simeon. The wing/forward became Simeon's point guard and was the team's facilitator. His stats don't jump out, but his game became much more well rounded. Many people would like to see D.J. take more control during games, and, hopefully, John Groce is able to inspire that. The talent and potential is definitely there, though.
Rank: 63, 4 stars
6 foot 4, 175 lbs, Plainfield East
The newly anointed Illnois Class 4A Second Team All-Stater made a huge leap after a very strong finish to his junior season. He has cemented himself as a surefire 4 star recruit and could keep climbing the rankings after a solid summer. There are no surprises when it comes to Aaron's game - he can shoot the basketball. Aaron is the best pure shooter to join the Orange and Blue since Jamar Smith (too soon?), but he's adding an all around game to that shooting touch. Aaron is a vital part of the future.
Now we look at the 5 star recruits with potential interest. I'll list each player with his ranking and my guess at the odds of him choosing Illinois. I repeat, the percentage is my opinion and my opinion only.
Diamond Stone, Rank: 3
Percentage chance of choosing Illinois: 1%
Diamond is a man child from the city of Milwaukee. I would have listed him with a zero percent chance of heading to Champaign until Buzz jumped on the ACC bandwagon and floor slapping Steve Wojciechowski took the Marquette head coaching job. If he leaves the state, don't expect Illinois to be his destination. My guess is he replaces Jahlil at Duke.
Elijah Thomas, Rank: 9
Percentage chance of choosing Illinois: 10%
The Illini recently made Elijah's top 10 which gives us the same fighting chance as nine other schools for this beast of a basketball player. Top 10 lists are pointless, but, hey, Illinois made it! If Illinois makes his top 5 we can start getting excited. Originally, Illinois was being tabbed as a dark horse in this race which might still be true, but I don't see him leaving the state of Texas. SMU is my uninformed guess right now.
Elijah Thomas cut his list of schools to 10: USC Florida Memphis Texas Oregon Illinois Ohio State SMU Oklahoma State UNLV— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) March 26, 2014
Carlton Bragg, Rank: 10
Percentage chance of choosing Illinois: 5%
Carlton Bragg is another stud in this class that Illinois has been rumored to be rather high with. Does Illinois beat out Ohio State or Kentucky or Kansas in this race when all is said and done? I highly doubt it. One or two years of Carlton Banks jokes would be totally worth it though.
Jalen Brunson, Rank: 14
Percentage chance of choosing Illinois: 20%
Nine months ago, I would have laughed at the thought of Jalen Brunson coming to Illinois. What's happened since then? John Groce has worked his tail off to get back in the good graces of the Brunson camp, Jalen set a state finals record by scoring 56 points versus Whitney Young which propelled him to 5 star status, and...Wait. What am I missing? Oh yes, there is a gaping hole at point guard for Illnois starting in 2015. Brunson is now the highest rated player in the state of Illinois in 2015. Can the state school FINALLY keep the state's best player home? Beating out the Michigan B1G schools and the blue bloods out east will be a difficult task. It has to happen at some point, though, right??
Doral Moore, Rank: 16
Percentage chance of choosing Illinois: 5%
Doral and Illinois don't get mentioned together quite as often as the names above. He does have an offer, and he is showing interest. For those of you that are unfamiliar, Doral is 6 foot 11 from Georgia, is expanding his offensive game, runs the floor really well for his size, and has a ton of potential. I gave him 5 percent because I want to be hopeful that this is the type of player John Groce makes an impact on. Based on his offers, I guess I'll predict that FSU is the team to beat.
Here are some other players from the list that we should keep an eye on as well:
31. Jalen Coleman
34. Eric Davis
45. Jawun Evans
61. Nick Noskowiak (received an offer yesterday after decommiting from Marquette)
62. Josh Sharma
67. Glyn Watson (brother of Demetri McCamey)
100. Hyron Edwards
106. Ed Morrow
122. LuWane Pipkins
I'd say it's pretty obvious which top player I think John Groce will land. I'm not trying to raise anyone's expectations, but Jalen Brunson paired with any of those top 20 guys to go along with D.J. and Aaron and Illinois basketball is back with an emphatic BACK. Actually, yes, that's exactly what I just did. Expectations have been raised. History suggests that Illinois doesn't get invited to the ball once again, but I'm not ready to give up. I'm holding on to hope.
And if you won't allow yourself to get pulled into the emotional roller coaster that is recruiting, just enjoy watching the latest Mr. Basketball in Tennessee destroy some helpless rims. This video never gets old.
G - O ILLINI GO!
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The next player to commit to Illinois for 2015 will be of what star rating?
This poll is closed
LuWane Pipkins needs no star rating