The college basketball calendar has officially turned to the offseason, and the first of many recruiting periods began at 12:00pm CT on Thursday.
Brad Underwood is set to make his first rounds as head coach of the Fighting Illini, and four-star guard Mark Smith (IL) is right at the top of the agenda. An Illinois contingent that includes assistant coach Jamall Walker will be downstate at some point in the afternoon to check in on the Edwardsville star.
Smith will also be visited by Missouri, Michigan State, and Kentucky on Thursday. Furthermore, Norm Sanders of the Belleville News-Democrat has reported that the 6-foot-5 guard will be taking a visit to East Lansing over the weekend.
Recruiting update for Edwardsville's @Mark_Smith_13 : home/school visits today w/ #Mizzou Mich State, Kentucky #BigBlue & #Illini— Norm Sanders (@NormSanders) April 6, 2017
Edwardsville's @Mark_Smith_13 also will visit Michigan State this weekend #Spartans #Mizzou #Illini #618hoops— Norm Sanders (@NormSanders) April 6, 2017
According to Illini Inquirer’s Derek Piper, class-of-2019 forward E.J. Liddell (IL) will be meeting with the coaching staff tonight as well The Belleville West sophomore averaged about 20 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 blocks per game last season, and he projects to be one of the top Illinois prospects in the class.
1st-team all-stater EJ Liddell tells me #Illini HC Brad Underwood & Jamall Walker will be in to see him tonight. 2019 with big-time upside.— Derek Piper (@DPiperScout) April 6, 2017
There’s no word yet on whether or not new assistant coach Orlando Antigua will be involved in today’s recruiting efforts. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how Illinois responds to the decommitment of four-star big man Jeremiah Tilmon (IL); with the East St. Louis native essentially off the board, there are now three open scholarships to fill for the 2017-18 season.