The Champaign Room site manager Stephen Cohn talked to 2018 Illinois basketball priority target Landers Nolley about the current state of recruitment ahead of his Oct. 31 commitment announcement. The 6-foot-8 small forward/shooting guard visited Illinois on Sept. 2 and had an in-home visit from Illinois’ coaching staff at his Georgia home last week.
Stephen Cohn: I know Halloween is the big day, but how has that process been going for you? Where are you at?
Landers Nolley: I’m down to eight (schools). It’s been good. I’ve got all of my visits scheduled now, and I’m just taking it day-by-day.
SC: You were on Illinois’ campus for an official visit a few weeks ago and had an in-home visit with Coach (Brad) Underwood and his staff last week. Since Underwood is a first-year coach at Illinois, what was the selling point he tried to make to get you to come to Illinois?
LN: The fact that there’s a chance for me to make my own mark if I go there, unlike other big schools like Kentucky, Michigan State and North Carolina. That was the selling point there. And assistant coach Chin (Coleman) talked about that, too. And they talked about how when (Underwood) was at Oklahoma State, (redshirt-senior G/F) Jeffrey Carroll played my position and was very successful.
SC: Underwood coaches some of the fastest offenses in college basketball. How do you think you would fit into an Underwood system?
LN: I think it can be good. The more shots, the more possibility I have to put points up. He talked about that and that it’s a high pace where they run everything through their shooters. That’s good.
SC: Illinois has other priority targets like Ayo Dosunmu and Talen Horton-Tucker in the Class of 2018. Have you had any contact with any of those guys?
LN: I talk almost every day with Ayo. I lived in Illinois for a year and got to know him when I was at Curie (High School) and he was at Morgan Park (High School).
SC: Have the two of you discussed possibly teaming up in college?
LN: I mean, it’s there, the opportunity is. We’ve gotten all of these offers, and the relationship has been there. So anything can happen.
Nolley has been keeping fans involved in his recruitment through a 32-team, single-elimination bracket that he updates via Twitter. Illinois has “defeated” Temple and Michigan in the first two rounds.
SC: I’ve never seen any recruit make a bracket out of their recruitment. How’d that whole idea come to be?
LN: I got that idea from my little sister. We watch March Madness a lot, and she suggested I do a bracket, and that was where I got it from.
SC: So when you put the teams (in the bracket), it was randomly assigned?
LN: Yeah, it was random. My sister did it through some computer, and it was just randomly generated like that. It’s in no special order.
SC: What kind of response have you gotten from the bracket since it is so unique?
LN: A lot of people said they like it. No matter what, I was still going to do it. But I actually got some positive response from it, and I don’t think it got any negative response. Everyone likes it, especially on my Twitter and Instagram. It’s fun.
SC: You’re final five schools involves four bigger schools and Georgia State. What do you think that would mean for that program if you went to GSU?
LN: They’ve been using R.J. Hunter as a selling point as a guard that made it out, and he made it to the league (with the Chicago Bulls). Everyone saw him as a small school (player), but they make it work, and it’s special.
SC: Regarding the Illinois fan base, what have you seen from the fans that makes you still consider them at this point?
LN: That’s one of the most active fan bases in the country. When they found out (Illinois) was recruiting me, they started trying any and everything to try to get that kid. I’ve never experienced anything like that, and it’s still going on.
SC: You’re working with (Movement Hoops Recruiting Analyst) Jake Weingarten (@jakeweingarten) in October to countdown to your commitment on Halloween. What will that countdown entail?
LN: We’re going to post a clip from the summer or highlights from last year every day until it’s time.
Nolley still has scheduled visits with Virginia Tech, Georgia State, Georgia and Wichita State.