Since the Illini staff has been handing out scholarships in a rapid-fire style lately for the class of 2019, I figured it would be good for the Illini nation to get to know each recruit being offered.
This week I will be profiling Florent Thamba and Maurice Calloo. These guys are both big priorities that Brad Underwood has specifically stated he wants to add to this roster.
Thamba fits the profile of a big athletic five that can run the floor, rebound, and defend the rim.
Calloo is the big physical wing that Underwood has sought after since Illinois was first in on THT. Calloo would add size to the perimeter as well as having some good scoring ability to boot.
Florent Thamba: 6-foot-9 C (Mountain Mission School)
The first words that come to mind when you watch Flo’s highlight tape is “Athletic” and the second word is “Rim Protector.” I hope you are looking closely at that second word — the current Illini roster is definitely lacking someone who can block shots at a high clip.
I think during the first three minutes of tape I watched on Thamba, he blocked a dozen shots. The blocks kept coming throughout his highlight, too. Flo can jump out of the gym too, he’s a fun power dunker down low and has a somewhat polished skillset with his back to the basket. He has a lot better footwork than most bigs his age which is a definite plus in his development going forward.
Thamba lacks a little size, especially for the Big Ten. He’s only 6-foot-9 and weighs about 224 pounds, so Fletch would definitely have his work cut out for him.
That being said, he’s no Nnana Egwu, he’s less of a project than that. He likely has a lower ceiling than Nnana, but could come in and bring the Illini some immediate post depth.
Maurice Calloo: 6-foot-8 SF (Oak Hill Academy)
Maurice Calloo is a guy with a name that just rolls off the tongue, and I for one am a big fan. I’m not just a fan of the name — I’m also a fan of the game.
Calloo is impressive. He transferred recently from Huntington Prep to Oak Hill Academy in West Virginia. Calloo is also originally a native from the great nation of Canada.
Calloo brings a unique skillset to the table. He has a really large frame for a wing. He’s 6-foot-8 around 215 pounds. If you didn’t know any better from watching him you would think that he plays the four.
Don’t get me wrong he probably could play the four similar to the role Kipper Nichols plays for the Illini now. Maurice would pass for a four if he didn’t shoot the ball so darn well.
Calloo is a knockdown shooter from deep. Paired with his strength and ability inside, he would be a heck of a nice fit in Brad Underwood’s system.