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#AskTCR: Mark Smith Day, Jeremiah Tilmon, and Basketball Recruiting


Wisconsin v Illinois Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

There are two ways to ask The Champaign Room your questions. You can tweet them at us on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTCR -- it makes it easier to keep track -- or you can email them to us at And if you've got a personal question and you're worried about your privacy, just tell us. We'll change your name to Cuonzo Martin when we publish it on the site. And remember, you can ask us ANYTHING. It doesn't have to be about Illinois or even sports.

Brad: I can absolutely see the Jeremiah Tillmon crystal ball swinging toward Coach Underwood and the Illini if Mark Smith commits to Illinois today. The appeal of playing with three other high-profile recruits could absolutely persuade Tillmon to come back. Do I want him in Champaign if he wants to be here? Absolutely! Is it the end of the world if a Smith signing does not warrant Tillmon following? Absolutely not.

Jim: I realize fans were upset over the NLI release, but keep in mind that Tilmon made it very clear that he’d continue to consider Illinois. Has he taken a single visit to another school since decommitting? Nope. That’s really strange considering it’s almost May. I’m not saying that Tilmon will end up at Illinois — in fact, I still highly doubt that happens — but there’s absolutely a chance.

Brad: Hits me RIGHT in the nostalgia. NCAA Basketball 2010 was the last game made by the good people at EA in the NCAA Basketball franchise, featuring Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin on the cover (geez we’re old). If you were to drop one Mark Smith into the game, he would be likely ranked in the mid 70’s overall. Ranked by Scout as the 18th best PG in the country, you would have to rank a host of other players ahead of Smith. I’d probably put the best freshman PG in the mid 80’s range, with Smith starting as a 76 overall. Good player, with room to grow.

Jim: Uh, yeah, I’d probably go somewhere between 74-76. Personally, I think we’re all slightly overrating Smith’s potential impact next season, but even so, he’s probably one of the top 60 players in the 2017 class. Like Brad mentioned, the only players that would warrant 80+ ratings right off the bat are your five-star, top-15 prospects.

Brad: It’s Illini Twitter. If you build it, they will tweet. (Read this)

Jim: Illinois Twitter never sleeps. Illinois Twitter is everywhere. Therefor, I think it’s safe to say Illinois Twitter would be shadowing Smith with a drone or some shit during his walk in the woods. You know, just to make sure he doesn’t hurt his knee. Totally normal.

Brad: Next year’s starting 5 is already on the team, and his name is Michael Finke. With the Underwood system centered around pushing the ball down the floor, Finke’s athleticism as a more traditional power forward will gel nicely in the lineup. Having size in the paint doesn’t hurt, but having a guy in Finke that can push the floor as a potential 5 is a HUGE luxury. Look for Underwood to utilize that from the get-go.

Jim: Yep. Barring some crazy addition (i.e. Jeremiah Tilmon) I think it’s absolutely going to be Mike Finke. Illinois will basically be forced to go with four guard lineups next season, and Finke’s ability to stretch the floor in pick-and-roll situations will be invaluable. His defensive ability is still up in the air, but it may not matter because Brad Underwood will just try and outscore everyone until he gets some of his own players to Champaign.

Brad: Seeing as Illinois is one of two power five schools that have reached out to him, I could see Francesco Badocci signing with the Illini (a nice get at the PF position). Let’s say Illinois doesn’t land Tillmon, meaning they need help in the paint. Manny Patterson looks like a player Illinois could win easily with a scholarship offer (not yet offered) as an in-state three star player. Thing is, he’s a power forward that would give Underwood three players at the four spot in the roster. So maybe Underwood stretches for a transfer center with the last scholarship? The short term signing gives you much needed depth, and doesn’t cut you off at the knees with future recruiting endeavors.

Jim: I have no idea. I think the best-case scenario would obviously be some combination of Carlton Bragg/Jeremiah Tilmon/Francesco Badocci. Regardless of who Illinois actually gets, I am hoping that Underwood decides to only use two of the three scholarships. Save an extra for 2018 and swing for the damn fences.

Brad: Can they? Of course! Will they? Only if they follow it up with a game against Cleveland State (not a thing).

Brad: Passionate fans are a blessing and a burden. Please do us all a favor and regardless of good/bad tweet vibes, STOP TWEETING AT RECRUITS. RIGHT DAMN NOW. It makes the school look bad, it makes the fan-base look bad, and it makes you (the tweeter) look bad. Knock it off, ya crazy dinguses.

Jim: It’s a terrible look. I know it’s easy to say “fans from every team do this,” but it’s absolutely inexcusable. These kids are trying to make an enormous decision, and the only parties that should be involved are family members and coaches. Oh, and tweeting at high schoolers is also technically a recruiting violation.

Brad: Arizona is still in the process of renovating the McKale Center, with a project that started it’s first phase in 2014. The Wildcats had the third best recruiting class in the country in 2015, and the sixth best in 2016. They currently hold the third best recruiting class in the country this year. Not a bad case study if you ask me!

Brad: Be right back. (Runs around the room knocking on ALL of the wooden things)