During an announcement ceremony on Monday afternoon, three-star small forward Xavier Sneed gave a verbal commitment to the Kansas State Wildcats over the Illinois Fighting Illini and Xavier Musketeers. The Florissant, Mo. native is ranked as the No. 102 overall recruit by Rivals and No. 155 by 247Sports. Sneed also held offers from Minnesota, Missouri, Wichita State, Creighton, and Cincinnati.
Former Illinois coach Bruce Weber did, in fact, just win a recruiting battle over current Illinois coach John Groce. Just get it out of your system right now. Go ahead and yell, scream, cry, whatever and let's re-group below in about a minute.
Better? Cool. Well here's the thing -- missing out on Sneed isn't that big of a deal for Illinois. The only reason you're probably going to care (and you shouldn't) is because the Wildcats' head coach used to roam the Assembly Hall sidelines.
Yes, the six-foot-four wing would've been a very good addition to the program (I still really like his potential as a lockdown defender), but his skill set would've been a luxury for a team that's already loaded with perimeter talent. Kendrick Nunn, Aaron Jordan, and Jalen Coleman-Lands were going to be getting most of the playing time anyway.
With Te'Jon Lucas already in the fold, Illinois still has two remaining scholarship for the 2016 recruiting class. However that number could increase to three if Tracy Abrams doesn't come back to play for a sixth year.
The immediate fan reaction to Sneed's decision may be, "let's just go grab a commitment from Zach Norvell now." But it's not really that simple anymore. Sneed was the No. 1 priority on the wing for this class and as the Illini coaching staff was devoting resources his way, Georgetown, Oregon, and others have become major players for Norvell. We'll see if the Illini can make up some ground for the Chicago-Simeon product, but I wouldn't put my money on it right now.
Elsewhere, the front court is a pretty major area of need for the Illini. Three-star power forward Clevon Brown (TX) recently narrowed his list to Texas and Vanderbilt, eliminating Illinois in the process. That leaves four-star center James Banks (IN) and international prospect Harry Froling (AUS) as the only two big men with scholarship offers.
Banks, along with his entire La Lumiere Prep team, took an unofficial visit to Champaign this past weekend. It appears that the Illini are close to securing an official visit, but there's still a lot of ground to make up in the recruitment.
In the event the Illini don't land a high school big man, look for them to turn their full attention to the transfer market next offseason to an immediately eligible fifth-year player.