Recently, Isiah Williams and Eric Gordon, two of the highest profile players ever to commit to Illinois, have made stops here to the IB. Why is this such a big deal, you ask? Because I spend most of my time talking to recruits and watching them play and let's face it, when kids like those two talk - "people" listen.
Rumors were that Williams was thinking of going to Iowa but in a recent interview by Scout.com's Chris Pool, he squashed that rumor. "I'm solid now," Williams said. "I'm 100%, no, 200% committed to Illinois. I needed some answers to some academic questions I had and they were all answered to my satisfaction."
"As far as next year is concerned, the coaches told me that I'll get an equal opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback job, and that's all I can ask for." Williams is the number one ranked QB in the Midwest.
When I spoke with Williams he made it very clear to me that he's bringing others with him, and he's not afraid to pick up the phone to call other high school players - ones that are considered "difference makers".
Gordon on the other hand, is working his tail off to help the Illini land the other top guard in the Class of 2007 - Derrick Rose of Chicago Simeon High School. According to Gordon, "I'm sending him text messages and I want him to know I want to play college basketball with him at Illinois. We can make another Final Four run at Illinois."
The class of ‘07 by Scout.com has Rose ranked as the nation's 5th best prospect and Gordon as the 10th best.
When I spoke with Mr. Eric Gordon, Sr. he was somewhat surprised at the love the Illini fans have shown his son. I wanted Mr. Gordon to know that the message board thread on the Illiniboard.com is the largest ever; currently it has 108,603 page views and the fans refuse to let it slip to the second page.
Right now I think it's very healthy for both Williams and Gordon to know how the fans feel about their commitment to the U of I. Illini fans are very loyal and take care of their own and when players like those two take the time to reach out to them and try to bring other players with them, life is so much easier in the City of Orange and Blue.
When I talked to Robert Smith (Simeon's basketball coach) last month, he told me that kids want to go to school and play with other kids that can play and give them the best chance to win. That statement by Mr. Smith is true because you can see it and feel it from the recruits that I talk to; they all ask me about Williams and Gordon.
Photo graphics by: IB CoolHandLuke