Regardless of where you get your recruiting information from, who you talk to, or who you know on the "inside" - when you mention Illinois' Bruce Weber - you get the truth.
This past summer Illinois targeted two potential student athletes that would have helped the Illini this year and the 2006 season. However, each student had grade issues. One of the athletes did make a soft verbal to Illinois but Weber knew that grades might be an issue, so the student-athlete was asked to just wait to make sure things would work out. Obviously things didn't work out for that student to attend Illinois but looking at the big picture, that was the best advice Weber could have given the student. Why? One national recruiting analyst said Weber will not embarrass a player. If that student had a press conference and said he was attending Illinois but didn't have the grades to get in, how does that make the student feel and make the university look?
Just a couple weekends ago, I spoke with Larry Butler who runs one of nations' top AAU programs, the Illinois Warriors, and Weber's name came up. When Illinois lost out on a top recruit from the state it sent shock waves all through Illini Nation, but not with Butler. "I think it's good the kid went elsewhere. I don't think he would fit Weber's system nor do I really think this kid can do what a coach asks for an entire season." So many players have talent, but sometimes the "baggage" that comes with them is not worth the headache.
The recruiting business is a funny game. Sometimes a potential athlete may want to attend a school so bad they misinterpret what these coaches are really saying to them. For example I called a recruit last night and asked if a scholarship was put on the table for him. Without hesitation he says, "They told me ‘We want you to play for us. What are your thoughts on that?'". Let me ask you - is that a scholarship offer or is that telling a student that we're very interested in you?
Weber is a straight shooter and sometimes when players ask certain questions they may be looking for a "sugarcoated" answer. Well, you're not going to get that with him. During the Big Ten/ACC Challenge ESPN's Dick Vitale said, "Weber is a basketball coach, nothing flashy, just a guy that loves to teach the game and teach it the way it should be played." This summer I spoke with red-shirt freshman Charles Jackson. He knew right away what other players Illinois was looking at, who was ahead of him, and what he was going to have to accomplish if he wanted to see the floor. Again - an honest coach.
Sometimes it's hard to lay the blame on anyone. At the same time, if the situation allows it, having parents and coaches involved with recruiting would help the situation and from what it appears, to have the student-athlete understand and learn the rules of recruiting.
For Coach Weber, he's stated during interviews that Illinois is in on a lot of players these days, but now because of the recent success he may be able to get "his" players of choice – players that are coachable and willing to run his system.