Austin Colbert made his decision on Monday afternoon following a long recruitment. The Illinois Fighting Illini were the benefit of his decision and now he will bring his vast potential to Assembly Hall where John Groce and company will hope to get the most out of his vast skill set. Here is how he should fit in for the Illini.
Offensively there are a lot of raw tools in the toolbox for Colbert. He is every bit of 6-foot-8 and maybe a little taller, a good athlete, has a solid touch, and can handle the ball okay for a power forward.
While he definitely isn't a small forward on the offensive end he can be a bit of a mismatch guy as a stretch power forward. Colbert is comfortable facing the rim out to 18 feet, can hit the mid-range jumper, and is quick enough to take a defender off the dribble.
With all that ability on the offensive end the question has always been will he be consistent. There are too many times where Colbert will disappear and not put the extreme natural gifts that he possesses on display. That lack of assertiveness is something that has plagued Colbert throughout his high school career.
Still what with Illinois Head Coach John Groce wants to do on the offensive end this is a good fit for Colbert. Groce prefers to have a system that spreads the court with four perimeter players around one on the interior. Colbert will be asked to face the rim, be athletic, drive, and try to create mismatch opportunity while crashing the offensive glass.
That is all within Colbert's skill set, and now in the system Colbert will have a chance to put the natural tools and raw ability on display.
On the defensive end the highlight of what Colbert brings is versatility. He is at his best defending the power forward position, though in certain instances he can guard a small forward and other times he will be capable of defending a center.
What gives Colbert the potential to be an excellent defender is his athleticism. His speed, long arms, and leaping ability give him the opportunity to be a good weak side shot blocker. Right now he has times where he can be that, but still it isn't quite in his nature to attack everything that goes up around the rim.
Cleaning the defensive glass is a place where Colbert also shows potential. He needs to get stronger, and right now he can get overpowered at times, but Colbert shows a good idea of where the ball is coming off the rim, and a desire to go get the basketball when the shot is missed. Once he gets into a college weight program this could be an area where he is very good.
Like with offense, Colbert is still a work in progress on the defensive end, but a lot of his problems could be overcome with some time in a college weight room.
At least on paper this seems like a good fit for Colbert. The Illini have strong class coming in, but it is perimeter oriented, and with the need on the roster for an athletic power forward he should have the opportunity to come in right away and earn some minutes while not being thrown to the fire and asked to be a massive contributor.
Groce needs an athletic power forward who can stretch the floor to make his ball screen motion offense work the way he wants, and Colbert possesses all the skills that he is looking for.
Colbert started his career as a very highly rated prospect and at different times has flashed that considerable potential throughout his high school career. Now the question is consistency and can the Illinois coaching staff bring it out of him. On the basketball court there is very little he can't do, and now he has the opportunity to put that potential on display.
If he can make the transition from prospect to player, Colbert will be very good in an Illinois uniform because his style of play fits exactly with what Groce and his staff want from a power forward.
Brian Snow and Josh Gershon contributed to this report