USA Today // Mike Carter

Timing is everything in Illini PG chase

The Illini point guard pursuit is coming to a boiling point with Te'Jon Lucas taking an official visit to Champaign this weekend.

More than 153 weeks have gone by since the Illini picked up a commitment from Jaylon Tate, who remains as the only true point guard that John Groce has landed on the recruiting trail during his tenure.

Since then, Groce has furiously chased 'point guard of the future' candidates only to have misses of all different sizes and rationale. Last week, Illinois came up short for 2016 four-star point guard Xavier Simpson after he committed to Michigan.

The sense of urgency has reached a whole new level with just two lead guard targets left in the class: Charlie Moore and Te'Jon Lucas. Timing is extremely crucial at this stage, and that could very well determine the outcome. The Illini need a bird in the hand regardless of what's in the bush, across the yard or at the doorstep.

Lucas is scheduled to head to Champaign this weekend for his final official visit, but on Tuesday, he announced that he will make his decision on Wednesday. The Illini figure to be in a prime position with the Milwaukee native, who also has USC and Old Dominion in the mix. It has always seemed like a battle Illinois could win if they wanted it bad enough, and after an in-home visit with Lucas last week and Michigan exiting the fold, the Illini have come on strong.

Meanwhile, Moore's recruitment is now at a halt after a serious health issue has arose in his family. Moore was set to head to California for his first official visit last weekend, but he had to postpone it. Now, everything is on hold and all visits have been indefinitely suspended.

Like everyone else, the Illini hope for the best with Moore's family and it's understood that there are more important things than basketball. Some believe that this could cause Moore to wait until the spring for a decision. While he will take all the time he needs, the Illini have to stick to their original plan and go all out for each point guard target at the given time.

Lucas is on the clock now and it looks like Illinois has high odds to land him. One source told IlliniInquirer.com on Monday that it looked like a done deal, and Illini fans hope that is the case.

What would that mean for Moore? It's hard to forecast at this point. Most Illini fans would prefer Moore at the position with his electric scoring ability. Illinois could pursue him even if Lucas was committed, although it's not necessarily likely that they'd fit together in the same class. Furthermore, Lucas may want a promise that Groce won't go after another point guard in this class before he jumps on board.

Ultimately, this 2016 group has always been a stepping-stone class for Illinois. It's about filling needs and moving on to the all-important 2017 class. Of course, Simpson or Moore would have given you a top-100 point guard, but neither of them are a Jalen Brunson-type.

Getting Lucas would fill a need and give Illinois a high-level distributor in the backcourt.

Stay tuned to IlliniInquirer.com for the Te'Jon Lucas decision primer on Wednesday.


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