How Loyal Should They Be?

The recent verbal of Chicago native Sherron Collins to Kansas was yet another blow to head Coach Bruce Weber and his staff. Since Collins's no longer a target, what's next for the staff and should things be done differently?

By now you've heard everything under the sun regarding this issue. The fact is: Sherron Collins will be playing basketball for Kansas University. Was this a tough blow for head Coach Bruce Weber? Sure it was, because of the amount of time spent recruiting Collins. He has lost out the state's top four prospects recently: Shaun Livingston, Julian Wright, Jon Scheyer and now Sherron Collins.

Some may feel – "Well, look to whom Weber lost those players." Sorry, I don't buy that. Was Duke in the Final Four last year? Was Kansas? No. As a matter of fact, KU was bounced out of the NCAA tournament very early if my memory serves me correctly, losing in the first round to Bucknell (64-63). Something Weber has yet to do.

Most high school athletes that I talk to will tell you it's their dream to play in the NBA, and Weber concurred. Last year Illinois had its highest draft pick in the school's history with PG Deron Williams playing for the Utah Jazz. Shooting guard Luther Head, also a first round draft pick, appears to be playing his way into the top 6 rotation with the Houston Rockets.

During a recent media day head women's basketball coach Theresa Grentz said this to the press, "Coach Weber has done a great job with that program. They are elite. If you want to be an elite program you have to support it like that." No college basketball team in America has secured more wins during the past six years than the University of Illinois.

Coach Weber's motion offense is a player's dream to play and the fans truly show their loyalty to the state university. The problem is that the players don't feel that way right now.

There's a real fine line here. As coaches, the Illinois staff has to recruit the state; the talent level is too good. At the same time they can no longer put all of their eggs in the state, because some of the players don't feel the same way about Illinois as Illinois feels about them. They can no longer let other players slip away waiting on a player from Illinois that may never come. People keep saying Weber just has to keep on winning, but the guy did that. Now it's time the players step up to the plate. Until that happens, if they want to remain an "elite" team, they better continue to work the country because right now, in the state of Illinois, nothing is guaranteed. Sometimes you're just not going to get a player - for many reasons. Jon Scheyer, for example, told us all a million times his dream all along was to play for Duke. Wright, who committed to KU without an official visit, was a bigger blow than Collins if you ask me. However, having said that, Collins had been to Champaign but didn't take his official visit to a school that just finished playing the National title game and ended its season with a 37-2 record. Weber is a master of developing players; this year will be no different. Illinois will be fine, and when you do things with hard work - it pays off.


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