The Kansas Jayhawks have just received a verbal commitment from five prospect PF Carlton Bragg; he gave his pledge to Coach Bill Self during an announcement ceremony at Cleveland's Villa-Angela St. Joseph high school. The Jayhawks over Illinois and Kentucky. Bragg, a 6-8 power forward from Ohio, is currently the No. 16 overall recruit in the class of 2015 according to 247Sports' Composite Rankings.
Here's what Illinois is missing out on according to Eric Bossi (Rivals.com):
A high flyer around the rim who can run and is very explosive in transition. Has good touch and legitimate range to the three point line. Can beat other bigs to the rim off the dribble and is a more than adequate rebounder. Needs strength and has to be careful not to settle for jump shots.
Bragg is, surprisingly, the first member of Kansas' 2015 recruiting class. However the Jayhawks are still in the running for Jaylen Brown (#2), Malik Newman (#3), Cheick Diallo (#4), and several other top-tier recruits.
Bragg may not have been deemed a "realistic" option by many fans, but this loss stings for John Groce and Illinois because of the unbelievable amount of resources put into this recruitment. Groce had been recruiting Bragg since his days at Ohio University and the coaching staff had missed only one of his AAU games over the past two years.
Despite Bragg going elsewhere, Illinois' 2015 recruiting class of PG/SG Jalen Coleman-Lands (#33), SF D.J. Williams(#63), SG Aaron Jordan (#106), and PF/C Darius Paul (JUCO) still ranks No. 10 nationally and No. 2 in the Big Ten according to 247Sports.
So what's next for Illinois on the recruiting trail? There are no remaining scholarships to hand out, but the staff will continue to work as point guard and center remain glaring needs for the future. Marcus LoVett, a four star PG from Chicago's Morgan Park high school, is the most realistic option to round out the 2015 class; it appears the race will come down to Illinois, Kansas, and DePaul. Canadian star Jamal Murray (2016 recruit) could also be an option at the point if he chooses to reclassify to 2015, but he's believed to be a Syracuse lean at this point.
As for a big man, it looks like the staff will either turn to the transfer market or wait until 2016. Of course, someone on the current roster will need to be taken off scholarship if another player decides to commit this year.
Beyond LoVett and Murray, it's hard to determine what other options Illinois currently has. The next "round" of the recruiting calendar will be in March/April when recruits de-commit after coaches are fired at the end of the season--another target or two could potentially become available.