Julian Wright Visits Champaign This Weekend

This weekend is a big weekend for the Illinois Basketball Program. Julian Wright is scheduled to visit Champaign to take in the sights and sounds of the University of Illinois campus. This will be the first of three official visits for the star forward, so Illinois will have the chance to set the bar extremely high for the rest of Julian's official visits.

Bruce Weber has two scholarships left to hand out in the Class of 2005, and his top choice to fill the one slot is Homewood-Flossmoor's Julian Wright. In the Class of 2005 Weber has already laid the foundation for the Illini's future with the commitments of Jamar Smith, David Palmer, and Illinois State transfer Marcus Arnold. Now, he is trying to land what would be the crown jewel of his second recruiting class at Illinois, Julian Wright.

Julian Wright has been a key target of Bruce Weber since he took over the reigns of the Illinois program last year. There have been mentions in various print and Internet articles throughout Bruce Weber's tenure that focused on recruiting. In almost every article, Julian Wright's name was mentioned as a key target. As other recruiting names and targets have been mentioned and then dismissed, Julian has always been on the map.

During his junior year in high school, many people who did not witness the games and just read the stat lines thought Julian was struggling on the court. This prevailing thought gave many the opinion heading into the summer camps that Julian had something to prove in order to keep his lofty ranking near the top of the Class of 2005. Well, it did not take Julian long to prove the stat line reading doubters wrong as Julian led his Illinois Warriors AAU team to the Peach Jam Championship, and was named the Tournament MVP.

It was right after this tournament that many of the national recruiting experts realized they had made a mistake in doubting Julian based on his junior season stat lines. They again placed him in the Top Ten of recruits in the Class of 2005, and some even talked about Julian as the best college prospect in the Class of 2005.

After the Peach Jam, Dave Telep of The Insider's Hoops wrote: "There is no doubt that he's a Top 10 player in this class on his worst day. Athletically he's big time and makes guys around him better. Now, he's got some deficiencies but those deficiencies only prevent him from making the jump out of high school. He's not a shooter, period. Those who are slow to come around on him will regret it down the road."

All of Julian's work in the summer leads up to three weekends that include visits to Arizona, Illinois, and DePaul, the stated finalists in his recruitment.

The Fighting Illini will have the first chance to wine and dine Julian when he steps on the Champaign campus this weekend. While the official plans for what the coaching staff will do during Julian's recruiting visits are never released, as a long time fan of Illinois basketball I can surmise what will happen. There will most definitely be an open scrimmage Saturday afternoon at Ubben with the Illini team. If you are interested in attending the scrimmage, stay tuned to the IlliniBoard.com Hoops Fan Forum for the latest on when the scrimmage might take place as the various members of the message board will know a specific time.

Outside of the scrimmage, Bruce Weber will work on selling Julian his vision for Julian's college career, and for the future of the Illinois program. Of course no one outside of the coaching staff and Julian will know what is going to be said in that conversation, but that does not stop me from speculating as to what the recruiting pitch will be. I expect Weber to sell Julian on his offensive and defensive schemes, which includes a vision of making Illinois the "fastest" team in the Big Ten, and one that will allow for his talents on the wing to be highlighted.

In terms of the Class of 2005, this is the most important official visitor Illinois will host. Jamar Smith and David Palmer have already committed to Illinois, so while their visits are important, they are not as important as Julian Wright's because Weber does not have to sell them on attending Illinois. The addition of Julian to this recruiting class would have Illinois filling every team need: a shooter, two big men, and a star. Julian is that star that can transform the solid foundation in Champaign into a perennial National Championship contender.

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