Per his Twitter, three-star center Barret Benson has given a verbal commitment to Chris Collins and the Northwestern Wildcats. The 2016 big man is rated as the No. 156 overall player (No. 5 Illinois native) in 247Sports' 2016 composite rankings; he held offers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, and a several other high-major programs.
Before we get into how this impacts Illinois--holy cow is Chris Collins recruiting well in Evanston. Vic Law and Bryant McIntosh in 2014, Aaron Falzon in 2015, and now Benson and Rapolas Ivanuaskas (No. 1 player in Illinois) for 2016. It's only a matter of time before the Wildcats make it to the NCAA Tournament.
I said back in February that Benson was probably the most likely to commit out of all of Illinos' targets--that was coming on the heels of a scholarship offer and an in-person visit from John Groce. For some reason, the mutual interest seemed to have subsided considerably from that point on. It may have had something to do with Benson's performance during the Spring evaluation period, but we'll probably never know for sure.
So while this doesn't appear to be too terribly surprising for the Illini, it still hurts because the team needs to add a quality post presence. Let's take a look at their current options:
|2016 Illini Basketball Recruiting Board|
|Nick Ward||OH||69||51||6’9||235||X||Michigan St. (Verbal)|
|Nolan Narain||IN||63||89||6’9||210||X||San Diego St. (Verbal)|
|Tyler Cook||MO||79||118||6’8||240||X||Out of top 6|
|Considering: Florida, Virginia, Iowa St., Iowa, Mizzou, Arkansas|
|Nick Rakocevic||IL||75||167||6’9||190||X||Out of top 10|
|Considering: Texas, USC, Creighton, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee, Indiana, UCLA, Miami, Virginia|
|Joey Brunk||IN||138||88||6’9||225||X||Butler (Verbal)|
|Barret Benson||IL||89||160||6’9||240||X||Northwestern (Verbal)|
Click here to view the rest of the Recruiting Board
I mean, I wish I could say that post player XX is at least somewhat likely to become an Illini, but that isn't the case for anyone right now. It's looking like the coaching staff will have wait until some new names pop up--that includes fifth year transfers after the upcoming season.