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Illinois Basketball offers scholarships to 2019 prospects Francis Okoro, James Wiseman

Good morning. Welcome to the Orange Minute for Saturday, July 16.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

John Groce and the Fighting Illini have extended scholarship offers to two class-of-2019 front court players. According to Scout's Brian Snow, five-star forward James Wiseman (TN) and four-star center Francis Okoro (IL) became the latest additions to the programs big board. Both prospects play for the St. Louis Eagles on Nike's EYBL circuit.

Wiseman is the No. 5 overall player in Scout's latest class-of-2019 rankings. Okoro, meanwhile, is literally the first player outside of the website's Top-25. I think that makes him No. 26 in the nation? I can't say for certain without an actual designation.

We're obviously talking about high school sophomores here, so it's not worth getting too excited about either player. It's a smart move by Groce to get out ahead of the curve, though. Especially for Okoro, who's shaping up to be one of the top in-state prospects. There's a pretty decent chance that Jeremiah Tilmon won't be around for all four years of his eligibility, so the coaching staff needs to start laying foundations for possible replacements.

Illinois Fighting Illini Links

La Lumiere's Shane Heiman discusses Jeremiah Tilmon commitment (Illini Inquirer)

"There's an instant impact with [Tilmon's] size, mobility, ability to move his feet, ability to protect the rim, his skill set. There's an instant impact that he'll bring right away. He'll bring a little bit of an edge, and along with that he brings some excitement of a home-state kid. He's only scratching the surface of his potential."

50 days until Illinois Football (Fighting Illini Athletics)

Illinois' Week 1 contest against Murray State is 50 days away! To celebrate (?), the program put out a huge slideshow of Dick Butkus pictures. Because we all need more Dick Butkus in our lives.

Illinois will face West Virginia in 2016 NIT Season Tip-Off (TCR)

West Virginia should be a really interesting test for Malcolm Hill and the Illini. The Mountaineers (26-5, 13-5) finished second behind Kansas in the Big 12 last season and, although they ultimately lost in the First Round, they received a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.