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The Illini didn’t get Talen Horton-Tucker. What’s that mean?

THT choose Iowa State over Illinois and Xavier.

NCAA First Round - Virginia Tech v Illinois Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It’s safe to assume at this point most people are in on the dynamic of this recruitment. From what was being reported throughout the day, there were outside forces at work throughout this process.

I’m not going to get into specifics, I’m not going to point fingers — and neither should you.

Recruiting is political.

It’s an ugly, dark, fact about the great sport of college basketball. Sometimes you see it get to be really ugly (cue the FBI investigation of the NCAA).

Trust me: things have been worse, and more unspeakable things have occurred. This article was supposed to be about analyzing an 18-year-old kid’s choice of where he wanted to play basketball. Instead, it has now become a matter of those aforementioned politics.

There is one thing I want to get off of my chest first in this whole mess.

Don’t blame Brad Underwood, don’t blame Chin Coleman, don’t blame any of the Illini staff for that matter.

The Illiniois coaching staff was given an ultimatum, an ultimatum that did not just have Ayo Dosunmu implications or THT implications, but a choice that had implications on the recruiting climate of this coaching staff for years to come.

Maybe this is why it’s so hard to keep a good coach here that can actually thrive in this landscape. Chicago has become an enigma for basketball recruiting, and for good reason.

Any staff that is brought into this state has to bring in a navigator to guide them through the sensitive and tense recruiting hot-bed that is Chicago. It is imperative to the success of any program to make inroads with the coaches of both major high schools and AAU teams in the area.

This gives certain people and groups a lot of power. Power that some choose to use to help young men grow and reach their highest potential. Also power that leads certain folks to make what choice is best for themselves regardless of if it is in the best interest of the players.

That power pulls a lot of weight. Once again, don’t blame the coaching staff. They had an impossible choice to make, and they made it, and we all have to live with that. It doesn’t help or change anything to argue over if it was the right choice or not. Their hand was forced.

People keep asking, “why was it drawn out this long?” They ask that question as though it is a detriment to the coaching staff. I applaud this staff for trying until the very last minute to get two young men to put their differences aside to achieve something great.

Don’t forget if this all had gone the other way, this staff would be getting praised for their grit and perseverance.

Don’t blame the kids, either. There were a lot of influences surrounding this roller-coaster recruitment.

You choose THT, you miss out on guys who have been priority recruits since day one. Also, you lose a guy who everyone thinks is going to change this program.

You choose Ayo and you lose a player who was wrapped up in something bigger than himself. Even if he had a hand in it, no one can know if he did. You also lose ties you have had for over thirty years.

Traditions change, the world moves forward, people move on and so too should we.

Steve Prohm has recruited the heck out of Illinois, and he deserves all the credit in the world. THT will be joining George Conditt and Zion Griffin on a Cyclones team that is definitely on the up-and-up. It is a shame this monumental victory for Iowa State seems to feel so wrong. Prohm deserves praise, he has done what few blue blood schools can even do. As I said before, the recruiting landscape here is as difficult as any to maneuver.

Illini nation, I implore you, move forward, put this behind us. Brighter days are ahead for this program. Brighter days are ahead for Talen Horton-Tucker.