Heading into 2004, the Men's Basketball team looks like it has finally started to understand what Bruce Weber has been preaching since practice began. Deron Williams returned with a bang from his injury scoring twenty points in his first game back. Last night as I was watching Big Monday on ESPN, the news came in that David Palmer committed to Bruce Weber and Illinois, becoming the first member in Illinois' Class of 2005.
The Class of 2005 will be a key class for Weber because it is the class that he can use to mold the future of the Illinois program into his own image, Weber's cornerstone class at Illinois. The previous two cornerstone classes at Illinois produced names like Damir Krupalija, Robert Archibald, Lucas Johnson, Dee Brown, Deron Williams, and James Augustine.
WHAT DOES THE PALMER COMMITMENT MEAN TO THE ILLINI CLASS OF 2005?
After the initial excitement wore off, I started to wonder what this news would mean for the Class of 2005. I cannot get over how glad I am that Coach Weber received his first commitment in the Class of 2005 early., It gives him that much more time to focus most of his efforts trying to get the other top players to join Palmer in Champaign. The other major benefit is Illinois now has one extra recruiter on the high school circuit, David Palmer. It was great to have Dee Brown in the fold early in the recruiting process as he actively sold Illinois to players, namely Deron Williams and James Augustine.
David Palmer visited the Illinois campus last fall on the day of the Wisconsin football game with his good friend, Tyler Hansbrough. Will the relationship between Hansbrough and Palmer have an effect on Hansbrough's recruitment? Tyler is already being recruited by the elite names in college basketball, and the commitment of Palmer can only help Illinois' chances, but right now the word is that Illinois is in the mix, but trailing Missouri, Florida, and Duke.
Other top names that are commonly associated with the Illini in the junior class are Luke Zeller, Jerel McNeal, Josh Tabb, Julian Wright, DeAndre Thomas, and many others. The names listed are definitely not the only people that Illinois is following in the ever important Class of 2005, but these are the names that are most discussed by fans on the message boards and talk radio.
What is in the future in the Class of 2005? I think the coaching staff will want to look for a balanced class containing two guards and two big men, and one other player depending on how things work out this spring. The commitment of Palmer leaves open one spot in the front court, and the need right now with the commitments of Palmer and Pruitt is more at the center position. Because of this I think Illinois will be putting a full court press on Luke Zeller. At the guard position, Illinois should look to replace both Dee and Deron with an overlap year by getting two guards that can score and create in this class.
- Could there be a sleeper name that pops out of the woodwork like Warren Carter did two years ago? Could Bruce Weber have someone in mind that is off the radar, but looks to be a solid prospect given time and exposure?
- Can Illinois actually open the Big Ten season with five straight wins before heading to Madison on Saturday January 24? The only road game in that stretch is against Northwestern, and Illinois plays Ohio State, Purdue, Iowa, and Penn State in Assembly Hall before that game. It is a definite possibility.
- Illinois football only had one senior invited to the NFL combine, Sean Bubin. Yep, just one senior from Illinois' whole team was invited to the combine this year. As a comparison, Iowa had six players invited, and Nevada had two invited.