For once, Bruce Weber has won. Three-star wing Xavier Sneed committed to Kansas State Monday afternoon for the class of 2016 (TCR's reaction can be seen here), and marks the most recent miss in an ongoing saga of recruiting failures for John Groce and the Illini. While some credit immediate playing time as one of Sneed's deciding factors, the issue lies much deeper than minutes.
It's fairly easy to call out Groce for not getting the job done, but at this point it almost seems mundane. Whiffs on Cliff Alexander, Carlton Bragg, Elijah Thomas, Jalen Brunson, Juwan Evans and many others have repeatedly called into question the ability that Groce has to close a deal. For the class of 2016, the Illini only have one commit, and that being three-star point guard Te'Jon Lucas. Here Illinois is, in the mix for numerous top 50 recruits, but unable to land even a four-star for next year's incoming class.
I agree it's still early. Much remains up in the air regarding other offers, specifically those to top in-state players Zach Norvell and Charlie Moore. While Norvell, a four-star shooting guard, remains a realistic target, Moore's interest likely diminishes with the signing of Lucas, who is also a point guard.
Ben Coupet, another Simeon product, is also getting some interest from the Illini. Ranked as a three-star, he's a lanky 6-7 wing that primarily plays small forward. His recruitment hasn't seen much action to date, but it could very well heat up during the Winter.
The reality remains that Illinois hasn't been a destination place for top high school recruits. SBNation, our parent site, did a great piece on Illinois' recruiting failures that I would encourage you to check out.
Until there's some monumental change, Illinois isn't going to be hauling in any big fish in the near future.
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