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Hoops Crootin’ Roundup

Let’s have a little fun and highlight a dream class for 2019.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

While the Illini staff continues to pursue the 2018 targets I highlighted last week in Flo Thamba, Tevian Jones and Taeshon Cherry, we turn our attention towards the 2019 class.

I was thinking that we could also have a little fun with this class before things start to really heat up and get too serious. I’m going to be compiling a dream class for 2019.

This dream class is going to be a composition of the roster’s greatest needs and the most talented players. I will also be including my thoughts on how likely each player is to attend the U of I and each player’s star rankings.

2019 Dream Class

Francis Okoro 6-foot-9 Center (Normal Community West) 5-Star

Okoro is obviously the key to this class. His size and athleticism is something that the Illini haven’t had from a big man since Meyers Leonard. Okoro immediately fills a need down low that this team has been yearning for to make it a complete roster.

Chances he becomes an Illini...

Very likely. All reports on Okoro sound good for the Illinois staff.

E.J. Liddell 6-foot-7 Power Forward (Belleville West) 4-Star

Liddell is a very skilled big man with a lot of strength and a high motor. Liddell can rebound with the best of them and he’s as tough as they come in the post. He’s a kid that reminds me a lot of Leron Black coming out of high school. He has a lot more polished skill at this juncture though.

Chances he becomes an Illini...

It’s Somewhat likely. Don’t get me wrong, things have sounded pretty good from Liddell especially after watching us in the Braggin’ RIghts game. The competition is going to turn up a notch for Liddell. A man named Cuonzo isn’t going to let him leave Missouri without a fight.

Khalil Whitney 6-foot-6 Wing (Roselle Catholic) 4-Star

Whitney would fill the wing spot that Brad Underwood has so highly coveted. Whitney is long and athletic with a top-100 skill set. Whitney would give us a lot of much-needed size out of our three guard position. Whitney is also a skilled shooter, which obviously never hurts.

Chances he becomes an Illini...

Somewhat high. Whitney has ties to the Mac Irvin Fire which the Illini have recently cozied up to quite nicely. Illinois put themselves in a favorable position with the Fire going forward, which will benefit them in the long run. Whitney did move to New Jersey, so Underwood and company will have quite a bit of east coast competition to battle for Khalil.

Malik Hall 6-foot-7 Wing (Sunrise Christian)/ DJ Carton 6-foot-1 Point Guard (Bettendorf)

I would be willing to take either of these players for a fourth spot in the 2019 class. I wanted to make a dream class while still being somewhat realistic. I figured Illinois wouldn’t get both with a class like this and most likely won’t end up with either. Hall would add even more depth at the wing, and I think it’s fair to say, the more the merrier. Illinois is really going to be hurting for talented wings in the 2019 class and Hall is an even more talented prospect than Whitney but it may take a much bigger stretch to get him.

Carton is another point guard, which I think would give Illinois enough point guards to make up for all the lead guards they didn’t land in the John Groce era. Carton is a great shooter and would make an excellent piece off the bench in his underclassman years behind Ayo and Trent Frazier. After that, any team in the country would be happy to have them as their floor general.

Chances they become an Illini...

Slim. Carton is drawing a lot of interest from Greg Gard at Wisconsin and mostly everything I’ve been reading has him leaning towards the Badgers. The Illini would have to beat Bill Self and Kansas for Hall which is going to take a lot of things going their way. Illinois has gotten into some recruits they had no business in before, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in either of these going forward.