In case you missed the news late Wednesday night, Marcus LoVett Jr. has committed and signed a letter of intent to play at St. John's. The Morgan Park (IL) product was Illinois' last remaining target in the 2015 recruiting class. This doesn't come as much of a surprise considering the coaching staff appeared to have already moved on, but it's disappointing nonetheless.
Illinois missed on all
nine eleven of their main 2015 point guard targets (transfers included).
- Jalen Brunson (Villanova)
- Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State)
- Nick Noskowiak (Iowa State)
- Jimmy Whitt (Arkansas)
- Landry Shamet (Wichita State)
- Marcus LoVett (St. John's)
- Dylan Ennis (Oregon)
- Johnny Hill (Purdue)
Edit: Forgot a few names. Easy to do with so many of them.
- Prince Ali (UCLA)
- Eric Davis (Texas)
- Justin Robinson (Virginia Tech)
The Illini still have one open scholarship for the 2015-16 season. The only known player with an offer is Bradley transfer Josh Cunningham--he visited Champaign back on May 15th. Cunningham was a former top-100 recruit in the class of 2014 and he'd have three years of eligibility remaining after sitting out next season.
But next season's roster isn't the problem. Sure, the team is one Tracy Abrams ACL re-injury away from disaster, but things could be a hell of a lot worse! The problem is with 2016 and beyond. Don't believe me? Let's take a look at the trusty scholarship grid.
Jaylon Tate is the only point guard on the 2016-17 roster. That is not good. Jalen Coleman-Lands (more on him in a bit) and D.J. Williams both played sparingly at position during high school and AAU, but they weren't actually recruited to fill this need. Don't get me wrong--it's possible, maybe even likely, that Tate develops the confidence and skill required to make a jump shot, but he shouldn't be playing more than 20-25 minutes a night regardless.
So what now? Hopefully something that resembles a point guard!
2016 Point Guards with Illinois offers (in order of current ranking)
- Alterique Gilbert
- Tony Carr
- Xavier Simpson
- Bryce Aiken
- Lamar Peters
- C.J. Walker
Of the above players, Alterique Gilbert is the only one that would be talented enough to start over a senior Jaylon Tate. The others would all likely be looking at maybe 15 minutes per game in a backup role. The problem with landing Gilbert is that his other four finalists are UConn, Texas, Louisville, and Syracuse. Simpson is the other 'main target', but all signs indicate that he's a strong lean to Xavier at the moment.
More names will pop up in the coming months, but it looks like Illinois' realistic options are Bryce Aiken, Lamar Peters, and C.J. Walker. If that ends up being the case the Illini would probably be better off moving Coleman-Lands to point guard. That way, the coaching staff would be able to offer all the playing time in the world to a surplus of talented in-state guards in 2017 (click here for more on them).