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Hoops Crootin’ Roundup

How can Okoro and Lidell impact this team? Also some Finke news.

Stephen F. Austin v Utah Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

After a really slow couple of weeks, we finally have some recruiting news.

A former target commits elsewhere, and the staff continues to zero in high-priority post targets for 2019. There were also a couple offers put out to some kids still in the 2018 class.

The Guys

First, I would like to touch on the potential impact of a couple of recruits I’ve touched on before the Illinois is hot on the trail for.

Francis Okoro or EJ Lidell would both be great gets on their own. If you were to get both of these kids the effect on the team would be monumental. Think of a potential starting lineup that includes the likes of Da’Monte Williams, Mark Smith, Ayo Dosunmu, EJ Lidell and Francis Okoro. That starting five would parallel any starting five in the entire country. Not to mention the depth that Lidell and Okoro would immediately bring as freshman.

It is not hard to see that the current roster is a little bit short on post depth. You may be thinking to yourself, how would Illinois manage to land these two highly touted big men in the 2019 class? My response is what would Brad Underwood not have to sell these guys on? The first-year head coach can sell that the Illini have the backcourt, and now he need the frontcourt. He can sell it until the cows come home.

What Underwood already accomplished — selling that you can be the change to the program (like Smith and Dosunmu) — is more difficult than selling guys to be part of the process. Now you are simply selling, that these kids are the missing puzzle piece to take Illinois from an athletic, competitive backcourt to legitimate contenders in the Big Ten and in NCAA tournament.

Florent Thamba 6-9 Center (Mountain Mission School)

Illinois offered Florent yesterday in an effort to add a little depth to the frontcourt. Thamba is a long, athletic center and, while he is a little short for Big Ten center standards, he can get down low and bang with the best of ‘em. Thamba is a three-star per, but ESPN has him ranked as a four-star.

If BU could add a guy like Thamba, that would add to this 2018 class that only boasts Dosunmu.

P.S. put out a list of guys that we will see progress a lot throughout the high school season and Florent Thamba and another guy Illinois just offered are on the list.

Maurice Calloo 6-8 Wing (Oak Hill Academy)

You guessed it!

That other guy on the list was the other player Illinois offered on Tuesday, Maurice Calloo. The 6-foot-8 player has really good size for a wing, he has a really nice looking jump shot but his best asset like many of Underwood’s recruits, he is really good at finishing at the rim.

The Illinois staff has been trying very hard to add that elusive wing player to this class, as well. Underwood stated he wanted to add size and a shooter to this class, I think Calloo is less of a shooter and more of an inside scorer, but he does bring size.

Plus I have to admit, I love that last name.

Tim Finke 6-6 Shooting Guard (Champaign Central)

Finke committed to Grand Canyon university on Tuesday, after having a considerable offer list and losing most of his offers his recruitment has been a roller-coaster.

Finke’s commitment comes on the heels of rumors that most high major schools pulled their offers out from under him after having a bad summer. Some were surprised to see him commit to GCU, but that program is on the rise and would be a good place to prove yourself. That sounds like exactly what Tim is wanting to do.

A source tells me that Finke specifically wants to attend GCU to improve his brand and move on to bigger and better things. That same source informed me that Tim wasn’t exactly ecstatic about all that has transpired the last few months.

There is also some speculation that there is a potential job offer on the table for his dad Jeff waiting at GCU, although my sources have yet to confirm this. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter; you can’t help but feel bad for Tim. He had a bad summer, and it cost him a lot. Here’s to hoping he moves on and still has a successful college basketball career.