Key Misses for Illinois
The Illini missed out on a couple big-time recruits this past week, but those misses could very well have been due to the staff’s allegiances elsewhere. We will start first and foremost with the recruit that I am most disappointed that the Illini missed out on, Florent Thamba.
Thamba was down to Nebraska, Baylor and Illinois. He ended up picking the Bears, a prediction that a fellow TCR staffer Matt O’Neall somehow predicted months ago. Insider information maybe? I think so. Although, I’m unable to confirm nor deny those accusations.
Thamba offered an athletic frame, a long wingspan and a shot-blocker’s mentality that Illinois hasn’t had since Nnana Egwu. By the way, this sentiment might be lost on some, but I would absolutely kill to have Egwu on this team right now.
The need for a low-post defender is a clearly defined hole in this roster and it hurts this team’s ability to win ball games.
Enter Schnider Herard, the transfer from Mississippi State who would be the answer to Coach Underwood’s prayers for next season.
Herard would be eligible for the spring semester next season. Which makes me think we are going to hear something soon from him. I am not sure exactly when the enrollment period for the spring ends, but the last day to drop classes is Monday.
Schnider is 6-foot-10, 260 pounds and would add rebounding and a rim protecting presence that Illinois is hurting for. Herard did visit during the Iowa game, so we will see what kind of impact that had on him.
Did he see a team that is fighting to become a competitor in the Big Ten? Did he see a young team struggling for help in the middle? Or did he see a team lost to Iowa and is still winless in conference play?
The Illini also missed out on de-committed wing target Taeshon Cherry. Cherry de-committed from USC earlier this month and specifically mentioned considering Illinois because of his desire to play with Ayo Dosunmu.
That idea obviously didn’t hold much water as it didn’t take Cherry long to choose to commit to Arizona State. I’m not really surprised by this decision, and the Illini were never really a major factor the first time around for Taeshon.
So where is the staff’s focus?
You could say that Thamba picking Baylor and Cherry picking Arizona State were written on the wall. When the Illini offered Herard I thought it was strange with such a major priority out there that they would offer another big man.
With the continued momentum the Illini reportedly have with Tevian Jones — four-star wing out of Culver City — it wasn’t too far-fetched to think maybe Cherry wasn’t a top priority for the staff either.
Next week I will be highlighting some of the huge offers Illinois made to some big time 2019 and 2020 targets this past week.
Feel free to comment your thoughts below on this recent recruiting news. Is this a bad thing the staff has missed out on some major targets? Do you think that Brad Underwood and company have a clear plan of who they are targeting?