I heard Illinois will have a basketball recruit visiting this weekend. Is that true?
Yes! There will actually be two players visiting: four-star point guard Xavier Simpson (Lima, OH) and three-star small forward Xavier Sneed (Florissant, MO).
Two players visiting at the same time? That seems a bit weird.
It is a bit strange, but this is a strategy that John Groce has used before. Just last year, the Elijah Thomas and Jalen Coleman-Lands visits overlapped and we all know how that worked out.
The only real concern with setting up a 'dual visit' is that one of the players may perceive that they're getting less attention than the other visitor. The good news is that, per NCAA rules, official visits can last up to 48 hours so there will be plenty of time to make each player feel welcome.
Great! Ok, so what can you tell me about Xavier Simpson?
The four-star Ohio native is currently ranked as the No. 69 overall player in 247Sports' composite rankings. Rankings aside, his skill set would be perfect for the point guard-starved Illini. He has a good outside shot, above-average court vision, he can finish at the basket, and he has a knack for knocking down clutch shots. Surround him with Illinois' wings and you're looking at a potentially scary backcourt.
Right now the major players in this recruitment appear to be Illinois, Miami (FL), and Iowa State. But Wisconsin offered him a scholarship this week and it sounds like Badgers may end up receiving a visit. Simpson already visited Iowa State and he's scheduled to check out Miami the weekend of September 11.
What about Xavier Sneed?
Sneed is a three-star, 6'5 wing and he's ranked as the No. 155 overall recruit in 247Sports' composite rankings. Like Simpson, he'd also be an outstanding fit for the team because of the surrounding talent that's already in the fold. Illinois has several sharpshooters (i.e. Nunn, Jordan, Coleman-Lands), but there really isn't an athletic, physical wing that can slash to the hoop. That's the primary role that Sneed would fill, but he also has the potential to be a lockdown defender on the perimeter.
Sneed is down to Illinois, Creighton, Kansas State, Wichita State, and Xavier. But the Illini are sitting in the driver's seat because this is the only visit that the Missouri native has scheduled.
Do you know if either of them will commit this weekend?
No, I do not know. They probably don't even know themselves.
Fine. Do you think either of them will commit this weekend?
I think there is a very good chance that Xavier Sneed will commit this weekend. Even if he decides to take another visit to, say, Kansas State in order to make a comparison, it really just seems like it's only a matter of time until Sneed is an Illini.
Don't expect Xavier Simpson to commit this weekend. He's got a free trip to Miami lined up and, frankly, it'd be pretty stupid to cancel that. If he doesn't take a trip to Madison, look for the Illini, Hurricanes, and Cyclones to each get a final in-home visit before he makes a decision.
Do the Illini have visits lined up with any other players?
Yes. Four-star point guard Charlie Moore (Chicago, IL) will be taking an official visit from September 25-27. That's the only other one currently scheduled, but look for more to be added in the coming weeks.
Cool. Now is there anywhere else that I can go to get more information on Illinois' targets?
Glad you asked! We've put together a big board that includes all of Illinois' 2016, 2017, and 2018 targets; it includes various rankings, commitment likelihood, and other helpful information. We've also created an interactive map of all the program's scholarship offers so you can see which geographic areas that the coaches are focusing on. Here's the link if you're interested.
Ok, last question. Should I tweet at these players to encourage them to pick Illinois?