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Illinois Basketball Recruiting Update: Guards

Checking in on Illinois' targets at guard as we head into the stretch run of the recruiting season.

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

August is upon us! School is fast approaching (for some of us) and football season is right around the corner.  August is also when basketball recruiting starts to pick up.  Visits, commitments, rumors, hysteria--all the fun stuff starts now!  With this mini-series we'll be taking a quick look at all of the significant recruiting targets that the coaching staff is after.

Point Guards:

Jalen Brunson - Lincolnshire, IL (Stevenson HS)

  • 247 Composite: #20, 5-star
  • Remaining Schools (5): Illinois, UConn, Purdue, Villanova, and Temple

No one knows what the hell is going on with the Jalen Brunson recruitment--if someone tells you otherwise they're lying.  There were rumors a few weeks ago that Rick Brunson, Jalen's father and former star at Temple, was poised to become an assistant coach at his alma mater; Jalen was presumably a lock to follow him.  However the situation has taken a drastic turn due to some (not-so) private matters.  It appears that Illinois is right back in it for Brunson, but no one knows for sure.  What we do know is that Brunson is the best PG in the class of 2015 and he's right in our backyard.  The combination of his scoring ability and on-court vision make him nearly unguardable--just ask Whitney Young, whom he scored 56 of his team's 68 points against in the state playoff semifinals this past season.  Brunson will be visiting Illinois the weekend of Aug 29th.

Jawun Evans - Dallas, TX (Kimball HS)

  • 247 Composite: #33, 4-star
  • Remaining Schools (4): Illinois, Southern Cal, Oklahoma St, Texas,

Jawun Evans is #1 on my personal wish-list for this recruiting class.  He's the real deal with his vision, scoring, defense, and speed: It's no wonder that he was one of the more eye-opening prospects during the summer evaluation periods.  Right now I'd say that the Illini are firmly in his top-2 and it looks like Oklahoma State is the other team that we need to worry about in this recruitment.  There was a rumor that Evans would be visiting Illinois in early September, but it was made clear by both his mother and AAU coach that no visits have been scheduled at this point.  Coach Groce just needs to get him on campus as soon as possible; if/when that happens there's a great chance he leaves an Illini.

Justin Robinson - Manassas, VA (St. James School)

  • 247 Composite: #119, 3-star
  • Remaining Schools (7): UNLV, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Temple, Creighton, and Providence

UPDATE: Robinson has "eliminated" the Illini

To be completely honest I'm not sure if Illinois is still actively recruiting Robinson, but as far as I know he still has a scholarship offer.  Either way it looks like Robinson won't be an Illini unless the staff starts to strike out on the other targets. Even then, they may be better served rolling the scholarship over to 2016.

Combo Guards:

Jalen Coleman - Indianapolis, IN (La Lumiere School)
  • 247 Composite: #28, 4-star
  • Remaining Schools (6): Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Notre Dame, North Carolina St, and UNLV

This has been an extremely quiet recruitment.  For the entire Summer "experts" have said that Coleman is a lock to Michigan, but that's based on absolutely nothing.  In fact, recent activity by the Wolverines on the AAU circuit seems to suggest otherwise (but what the hell do I know?).  Coleman seems to be more of a SG than a PG, but he's certainly capable of initiating an offense if need be.  Coleman has gone on record stating that he loves Coach Groce, but there's one red flag here--he's an Indiana native.  The Illini have never been able to land Indiana players so I'll believe it when I see it.  Regardless, Illinois has great shot at landing the elite long-range shooter.

Jimmy Whitt - Columbia, MO (Hickman HS)
  • 247 Composite: #50, 4-star
  • Remaining Schools (9): Illinois, Arkansas, California, Kansas St, Missouri, Oklahoma St, Marquette, Oklahoma, and SMU

Jimmy Whitt will be on the Illinois campus today (August 1st) for an unofficial visit.  Whitt is a combo guard by trade, but he's more of a PG than an SG.  Whitt has great vision and has shown that he can score in a variety of ways.  He's also extremely composed both while he's playing and off the court during interviews, which is always a plus.  It was rumored that Whitt was waiting on interest from Kansas, but he made a statement in excluding them from his recent list.  Illinois and Mizzou appear to be the main contenders here, but I'm sure that'll change once he takes other visits.  It's fantastic news that he's here today; hopefully Groce and Co. can continue to make a great impression.  Whitt will be taking an official visit to Illinois the weekend of September 13th.

Landry Shamet - Kansas City, MO (Park Hill HS)

News broke earlier this week that both Illinois and Minnesota have offered Shamet.  For now the 6-4 guard appears to be a backup plan, but don't let his ranking fool you; he's starting to garner some attention from bigger schools and he's been slowly climbing as of late.  He's listed as a shooting guard on most sites, but you can tell he's handling some point guard duties in the above video.  At this point I'd put Shamet in that third-tier along with Justin Robinson.

Shooting Guards:

Aaron Jordan - Plainfield, IL (Plainfield East HS)

AJ is quickly becoming one of my favorite Illini ever and he isn't even on the team yet (maybe because he follows me on Twitter).  Compared to the ongoing recruitments, he has been a bit overlooked by the fan base and that's unfortunate--he deserves all the attention in the world.  The improvements that AJ has made in his game have been outstanding.  He is no longer just a lights-out shooter-- he has transformed into a fantastic all-around player this summer.  I highly recommend that you check out his father's YouTube channel; he records every game that Aaron plays and his occasional commentary is just awesome.  Here's the link if you're interested.  AJ is going to have a stellar college career and I can't wait for him to get here.  Keep up the great work, Aaron!

Shake Milton - Owasso, OK (Owasso HS)
  • 247 Composite: #66, 4-star
  • Remaining Schools (4): Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma, and SMU

Malik "Shake" Milton may be more of Combo, but I decided to list him under SG.  At 6-5 he has a wingspan of nearly 7 feet (!!); those long arms give him the potential to be an elite perimeter defender.  Coach Groce got in on Shake a bit late, but he's already been on campus for an unofficial.  There's been some buzz around Indiana, but I wouldn't put a whole lot of stock into that at this time.  Odds are Crean will send some creepy-ass tweet his way and he'll lose all interest. He'll be on campus again for his official visit between the third and fifth of October.

That's all for now!  Next up on the list are the forwards, keep an eye out for that sometime this weekend.

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