Now that the season is over and the "official" run of James Augustine and Dee Brown are done, Head Coach Bruce Weber and staff must fill those shoes – and they will be big ones to fill.
Looking at all the upsets in this year's NCAA tournament run, one can argue that parity in college hoops is definitely here. Many experts say the reason for this is because of AAU basketball and kids playing more games. Let's face it – the talent level has gone up in recent years.
What makes a good recruiter? Is it someone who can land the nation's top 50 recruits on a consistent basis or is it one who can find the player that is most overlooked? The true freshman from Peoria, Illinois wasn't a top 50 recruit but played a major role in Illinois' success this year. Just today in a local paper, "The Dispatch and Rock Island Argus", state high school legend Coach Duncan Reid in his weekly column had a quote by him that was very disturbing. "I hope Illinois fans of Bill Cole, the 6-8 Peoria Richwoods center who has committed to play for the Illini, don't take this the wrong way, because it is not meant to infer that he can't play college basketball. It's just that he can't play at Illinois or in the Big Ten. I hope he proves me wrong." Boy, let's hope so. He also quoted, "Jon Scheyer, the Duke recruit from Glenbrook North, was absolutely shut down by quickness at the state finals. He'll transfer from Duke after two years or before. I know he finished as the fourth-leading scorer in Illinois high school history, but what I saw was that he's too slow, doesn't guard well and can't create off the dribble. We'll see." Yes, we will.
Right now because guard Eric Gordon from Indianapolis, Indiana has committed to play for Weber, all eyes are on 6-3 guard Derrick Rose from Chicago, Illinois (who most feel is seriously leaning to Illinois at this point). Let's face it – losing Dee Brown is a major blow to the program and Illinois is in need of another star backcourt. Rose and Gordon could fill that need. Gordon has made it very clear that he wants to play college hoops with Rose. Now that both seasons are over for Gordon and Rose, maybe they will spend more time talking about their future college plans.
The Illini will be pretty good down low for a long time. Before it's all said and done they may have the biggest frontline in college hoops: incoming freshman from Proviso East, 6-11 Brian Carlwell; Shaun Pruitt, 6-9 red-shirted freshman; Charles Jackson of Georgia; 6-9 Bill Cole from Peoria, Illinois; 6-9 forward Richard Semrau of Ohio; and 7-0 Mike Tisdale of Illinois. Just keep your fingers crossed that Rose will want to play for the University of Illinois.