The Class of 2005: What Are Illinois' Needs?

The Class of 2005 will be what is commonly called a "cornerstone" class for Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber. This class will be the class, just like the Class of 2002 was for Bill Self, which defines the early portion of Bruce Weber's tenure at Illinois. The Fighting Illini will have specific needs that will need to be filled, including more muscle inside and a point guard to eventually replace Dee Brown and Deron Williams.

The Class of 2005 will first be stepping onto campus in Champaign when Dee Brown, Deron Williams, and James Augustine are all seniors, assuming they all stay for four years. The seniors that will have graduated from Illinois the year before include C Nick Smith, F Roger Powell, PF Jack Ingram, and G Luther Head. Illinois will have five scholarships to fill three different distinct needs: (1) a point guard, (2) inside bulk, and (3) scorers.

The need for a point guard in the Class of 2005 is a need that cannot be understated for the Illini. As many teams this year have shown, especially the Michigan State Spartans, a solid point guard is a valuable asset to a top team. The need for a point guard in this class is specifically so any new point guard Illinois brings in to Champaign to replace Dee Brown and Deron Williams will have one year to learn the college game and be prepared for the rigors of the Big Ten. Rarely does a point guard come into a major program like Illinois and perform at a high level right away, so getting a year under their belt while playing behind Dee and Deron will be key for thee future of this program. There is also no guarantee that both Dee and Deron will be wearing the Illinois Orange & Blue by the time their would-be senior season rolls around.

You can never have too many scorers on a team, but the one thing that Illinois will need in the Class of 2005 is a scorer. With the Illini not recruiting a wing forward in the Class of 2004, that leaves Brian Randle as Illinois' only true wing forward, and he will be a junior in 2005 when this class first plays for Illinois. The lack of depth in the Illini's backcourt heading into the Class of 2005's sophomore year is noticeable, and the positions that will need to be filled are scorer and shooter, preferably both in the same player, or two players.

Illinois has already received a commitment from Jamar Smith of Peoria Richwoods. From the way people describe his game, I would believe that Jamar fits into the shooter and scorer category of recruit, not a point guard. That leaves Illinois with needing one more scorer that I would prefer to be a wing forward.

You can never have enough inside bulk, and with the Illini losing the bulk of Jack Ingram, Nick Smith (O.K. that is probably not bulk, but it is an inside presence), and Roger Powell, the Illini will need to replace these players with the Class of 2005 recruits. The Illini will need players that are both aggressive on defense, and can step out and play on the outside which is a necessity in Bruce Weber's motion offense.

Illinois has already received a commitment from Antioch, TN native David Palmer. The way people describe Palmer's style of play is that he is that aggressive player who will fit well into the low post in Bruce Weber's system. That should leave Illinois with one additional scholarship for another low post player in the Class of 2005.

Class of 2005 Needs Recap / Status
Point Guard: 1
Scorer: 2 (1 committed with Jamar Smith)
Inside Bulk: 2 (1 committed with David Palmer)

PLAYER NAME 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
James Augustine
Daniel "Dee" Brown
Warren Carter
Luther Head
Jerrance Howard *
Jack Ingram
Richard McBride
David Palmer
Roger Powell
Shaun Pruitt
Brian Randle
Jamar Smith
Nick Smith *
Aaron Spears **
Deron Williams
Scholarships In Use 12 12 10
Available Scholarships For This Class Based on Graduation 1 5 3 4 1

Scholarships Available
     Class of 2004: 2 (1 already spoken for by Shaun Pruitt, 1 is not allocated)
     Class of 2005: 5 (Jamar Smith and David Palmer are both committed in the Class of 2005, that leaves 3 left; four graduating players and 1 banked from 2004)
     Class of 2006: 3 (assuming all scholarships are given out in 2005)

* Denotes has already used redshirt season. It is assumed if a player has not used their redshirt year, they will not use their redshirt season before their eligibility is expired.

** Denotes player has taken a medical redshirt season.

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