During August, lliniInquirer.com lead basketball reporter Derek Piper is breaking down more than a dozen Illinois basketball targets, what he learned from watching them on the summer AAU circuit and where Illinois stands with them in their respective recruitments.
Today: Jordan Goodwin, wing Belleville (Ill.) Althoff
Illinois basketball fans have been giddy about Belleville Althoff 2017 wing Jordan Goodwin since his explosion at the IHSA state tournament in Peoria back in March.
Between the Class 3A semifinals and finals, Goodwin posted 41 points, 26 rebounds and 13 assists in jaw-dropping fashion. Illini head coach John Groce and assistant Paris Parham took in the action, and a month later, Goodwin had a scholarship offer from the home-state program.
Illinois has hosted Goodwin for a pair of visits this summer, as he was back in Champaign again on Friday.
What We Saw In July
The St. Louis Eagles made it to the Peach Jam finals last month with their loaded group. While future pro Jayson Tatum was the obvious headliner, Goodwin was part of a young nucleus that made a big impact for the Eagles. Goodwin showed off his high motor and knack for making plays in a variety of areas. Whether he was driving to the basket, chasing down a rebound or locking up defensively, Goodwin was in attack mode.
He wasn’t intimidated by the stage, which shows his toughness and approach on the court. Goodwin had a handful of impressive showings at the Peach Jam. He posted 12 points, six rebounds and two steals in a game during pool play. Goodwin was also an important part of the Eagles’ buzzer-beating win against Team CP3 in the semifinals, as he totaled six points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
Overall, it was a great experience for Goodwin.
“Playing up, I learned that you got to get stronger and faster. You’ve got to be able to shoot the ball better,” he said. “I learned a lot from the guys this year. Jayson Tatum and them, they taught me a lot.”
How He’d Fit In Illini Class
Goodwin is firmly in the top group of 2017 targets, which features quite a few high-level players from within the state. The Illini have a surplus of opportunity to offer with five open spots in the class. It is an opportunity to change the landscape at Illinois, and they’ll attempt to do it with in-state products like Jeremiah Tilmon, Da’Monte Williams, Alonzo Verge, Justin Smith and others.
The big key for Groce is to get one of those guys on board early and let the momentum carry on from there. Goodwin has the potential to be the one to get things started, and he’s already thinking about what could transpire in Champaign.
“If we get everybody, it will be like the Fab Five all over again,” Goodwin said.
Where Do The Illini Stand
Having Goodwin put the Illini in the context of “we” is a good sign for the program. He hasn’t been shy about Illinois’ position on his list of options at the next level. He named the Illini his No. 1 after visiting back in June, and that feeling was reaffirmed after his return trip on Friday.
“Illinois is at the top of my list,” Goodwin said. “It’s my state school. I love them.”
Groce has made him a priority since extending an offer back in April. Goodwin caught his eye in Peoria, and the Illini made sure to watch him closely over the summer with the Eagles. The relationship has grown quickly over the last four months. Goodwin said that is the biggest thing that stands out about Illinois.
“I like the coaching staff," Goodwin said. "The whole staff is cool."
Goodwin also has a close bond with fellow Belleville product Malcolm Hill. The Illini junior forward has been in Goodwin’s ear about the possibilities at Illinois.
“Me and Malcolm have been talking. Every time I come, we have a conversation,” Goodwin said. “He tells me that this is the place to be.”
The Illinois staff has been selling the same thing to Goodwin. He is a grinder with supreme toughness, an intriguing skill set and a will to win.
“Coach Groce says he likes the way I play and that I love to win,” he said.
Sizing Up The Competition
As you might imagine, Illinois isn’t the only program that thinks Goodwin would make a big impact at their campus. Illinois State, Kansas State, Missouri, Purdue and Virginia Tech all offered by the end of the AAU season. Goodwin has also added an offer from Saint Louis after taking an unofficial visit there last week. Don’t expect the list to stop there. But for now, the Illini are clearly the team to beat.