This week the recruiting news has been... Flo’in.
That was awful, I’ll own up to it.
What hasn’t been awful you ask? The future of Illini Basketball, which is far from awful. Earlier this month the Illini offered 2018 wing Tevian Jones, and his stock has been soaring.
Jones was unranked previously on most top-100 boards, but he jumped up to around 90 on every board I have seen this past week. There is no reason to think that is going to change either. If anything, his stock will only continue to rise as we move toward the spring.
Speaking of Illini targets prospering, Francis Okoro and E.J. Liddell have both been tearing it up this high school season. Okoro just finished up a great Pekin Tournament performance with Brad Underwood in attendance. It was reported Matt Painter has also been in the Bloomington area to watch Okoro play earlier this month.
Okoro is really getting a lot of high-caliber attention, and that will make it tough to win the recruiting battle. The good news is it sounds more and more like Okoro is close to a decision likely in the summer.
By all accounts it sounds like Illinois is in the driver’s seat (or at least a good position) at the moment. Don’t get too excited though, since we know anything can happen in recruiting.
We haven’t heard a lot from Liddell camp, but we do know that he is absolutely crushing it on the high school circuit. The guy is a double-double machine. It seems early on that the race is predominately between Illinois and Missouri (further fuel for the fire?).
Since I made a Florent Thamba reference, I’m sure we will get questions on where he is at with his decision. It sounds like Thamba’s visit went well, but there is going to be a fierce competition down the stretch for him. That’s what happens when your choices for big men get thinned down to this level.
I still think Illinois’ best bet is to pursue a fifth-year transfer for big man depth with Okoro and Liddell waiting in the wings.
Other big news on the horizon
A recruit referenced being interested in Illinois, and we didn’t really have to do anything. Taeshon Cherry de-committed from USC and stated he was interested in Illinois because of his respect for Ayo Dosunmu. Big recruits get other big recruits to come play for you — it’s science.
Cherry is taking official visits to Texas A&M — USC’s top competition before he committed — and Arizona State. Cherry was a recruit named in the big NCAA investigation of USC coach Tony Bland.
That may mean it’s smart to stay away from him, or if you have nothing to hide, why not go after a 6-foot-8 wing who is the 27th-best player in the class of 2018? I know, tempting, right?
Cherry is the No. 7 small forward in the class and would be an awesome compliment to Dosunmu at a position the Illini need help with.