Jeremiah Tilmon is the crown jewel of Illinois basketball’s 2017 recruiting class. The 6-foot-11 center is rated as a consensus five-star prospect by all major recruiting services, and he selected the Fighting Illini over the likes of Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State. I would even argue that his commitment on July 11 marked a potentially job-saving day for John Groce, assuming his 2016-17 squad manages to find their way into the NCAA Tournament.
According to WCIA’s Bret Beherns, though, the big man won’t be submitting a National Letter of Intent at the beginning of college basketball’s early signing period on Wednesday morning.
According to East St. Louis AD Leonard Manley, #Illini 5-star commit Jeremiah Tilmon will NOT ink his NLI on signing day tomorrow— Bret Beherns (@WCIA3Bret) November 9, 2016
I asked for a reason why Tiilmon would not sign with the #Illini tomorrow and was told: "He did not give a reason"— Bret Beherns (@WCIA3Bret) November 9, 2016
Recruits often sign NLI's but don't have a ceremony until a later date. I was told he wasn't signing or having a ceremony at this time.— Bret Beherns (@WCIA3Bret) November 9, 2016
The weird thing is Tilmon isn't talking to anyone, similar to what happened with Jordan Goodwin at the end, just leads to a lot questions— Bret Beherns (@WCIA3Bret) November 9, 2016
What does this mean? To be honest, I have no idea. I don’t necessarily think it’s a surprise for Tilmon to hold off on signing because, in my opinion, that’s the smart move for all five-star prospects. Why tie yourself down to a school when a coach can be fired/leave at any time? The safe move is waiting until the Spring. But the fact that Tilmon hasn’t publicly addressed his plans is rather worrisome for obvious reasons.
As you may recall, Tilmon transferred back to East St. Louis this Summer after spending a season at La Lumiere Prep in Indiana. That just happens to be the backyard of Travis Ford and the St. Louis Billikens.
While it’s pretty cool that Tilmon will be back in Illinois, the move could be a bit concerning for John Groce and the Fighting Illini. Four-star wing Jordan Goodwin committed to St. Louis University last weekend, and he has a pretty great relationship with the big man. Combined with the fact that Billikens assistant Corey Tate is the former director of Tilmon’s AAU team, and it’s not hard to imagine that there may be some local pressure to flip
So, yeah, this really isn’t a great development and we’ll just have to wait and see how things progress in the coming days. Still, assuming Tilmon does hold firm with his original commitment, I think this delay may indicate an intent to jump ship should Josh Whitman opt for a coaching change further down the road.
Tilmon has stated that he won’t sign with Illinois during the early signing period.
Five-star big man Jeremiah Tilmon told Scout that he doesn't plan to sign with Illinois during the signing period.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) November 9, 2016