At first I thought it was a prank to be contacted, and involved with the family at first; I mean anyone can call and say, "Hey, I'm Michael Jordan right?" Well, my call was indeed real.
In some ways meeting with members of the family made me feel a part of this recruiting process. Sometimes you can't believe everything you hear in these situations. For example, everyone felt the family was pushing for Shaun to attend others schools and not Illinois, and that's simply not true. Not when a family member tells you they want to see their kid play in person and not always on TV, and gives all the positives about playing close to home.
Face it - Shaun is going to have a very difficult time his senior year as he travels across the state of Illinois, but according to him he's ready for it. Some believe he may have been the biggest recruit in Illinois history. Illinois fans from all over the country joined in this recruiting process and followed it closely. My first contact with the family hit the internet and immediately I received a phone call at 11:45 at night to make a few changes.
Having said that, I think you all need to understand that current coach Bruce Weber and his staff worked very, very hard at this. They were at a big disadvantage because of the timing when Weber was hired. It had nothing to do with him as a coach, according to the family. The staff knew Shaun Pruitt and Shaun Livingston were the two obvious players to get in this class and tried to build a quick relationship with them. One out of two isn't bad. If you look at the big picture and get a more realistic look at things, the 2005 class is where Weber and the boys can make their mark.
If you don't know about recruiting you need to know there are very few "good" guys left. Some will stop at nothing to get a kid and if that means being disloyal to a colleague, so be it. One thing is for sure Illini fans, coming from the family - Weber is a class act, but the timing wasn't right. The trip to Champaign last weekend was to get one good look at his home state school before making his decision. The jersey that he wore to school was in poor taste and I can tell you the family didn't like that and let Shaun know about it.
When you see guys in the NBA like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tracey McGrady, Eddie Curry and King James, it can only make you wonder if you are considered by many the nation's best high school player, what could be if… A lot of Shaun's decision was based on the NBA; take that for what it's worth.
Looking on the positive side Illini fans - this is a year to be excited! You have clearly one of the nations best basketball teams. Players like Shaun will come around again, just like Marcus Liberty, Frank Williams, Nick Anderson and Kiwane Garris - all great players from the state of Illinois. Be thankful that you have kids who are loyal to their state university like Dee Brown, Brian Randle, Aaron Spears and Richard McBride to name a few.
I know who is reading this and sometimes visits my site. Thanks for the ride and the advice you gave me it was greatly appreciated.