How frustrated is the AAU coach of the nation's #2 Mean Street Express? It's safe to say very frustrated. Luther Topps has a son that plays for him and now is giving him different advice on college. "Antonio is one of the smartest kids in his class, now I'm telling him to play ball but his goal is to be a doctor," said Topps. Why that advice? Because Luther isn't sure what colleges are looking for these days.
"I'm not going to lie. I'm tired of it. I'm frustrated and upset. I don't know what these colleges are looking for anymore, everyone wants the NBA player and that's it. There's so many good kids in the state of Illinois and these coaches don't even give them a chance. I like Illinois, don't get me wrong. Patrick Beverly wanted to play there so bad but they didn't want him or think he was good enough, now look at him (and) tell me he wouldn't help Illinois right now. A lot of it is coaching. When Bill Self was there he just recruited players-he didn't give a damn about where people were ranked. When he got Luther Head he couldn't shoot. I will give (Illinois head coach Bruce) Weber credit-he helped him with his shot, but he wasn't a great player coming out of high school. Look at Dee Brown when Self recruited him, he recruited a player, not worrying about where kids are ranked. I like Bruce Weber, Tracy Webster and Wayne McClain but I don't know what they are looking for. They tell me these kids aren't good enough or they can't do this or do that, these kids can play. All they want to do is play ball, they work their butts off for these coaches and to have them say they aren't good enough….why go outside the state to get players when you can get them all right here, I don't get that it makes me mad! Look at Michigan, Ohio State and Indiana and look at how they treat their in-state kids."
Derrick Rose has been a hot topic for college basketball fans for several years. He made it more interesting when he decided to come back for another visit after he eliminated Illinois according to reports from a Chicago newspaper. "You want me to tell you what happened with Derrick Rose? First he was a good student, he had a 2.9 GPA. He works hard in the classroom and he wanted to know why Illinois doesn't recruit the city kids. He didn't understand that, and he wanted to go to a school where he could win. Don't tell me a guys like Tim Flowers and Kevin Johnson couldn't play D1 basketball, these kids are all being overlooked and they are tired of it," said Topps.
Illini Nation you may want to have a seat on this one, "Illinois better start looking at these kids better, there are going to start losing kids to Indiana. They are good people-they have a good staff up there. They don't bull *$&% people and coaches can respect that. I don't get what's wrong with Illinois, it's a two way street. I don't want a dime from anyone-I just want these kids who work hard to be rewarded by their state school…hell, any of the schools from the state." Topps added.
"I told my son to earn what you get in life that way people can't take anything from you, they all tell me how good he can shoot but… there's always a but, someone is going to get him and then, just like always, these kids come back to haunt Illinois. This isn't the NBA, this is college, take these kids and make ball players out of them. Tennessee has a guard on their team that couldn't shoot but that coach believed in him and made a player out of him. I don't know what they are looking for but all these kids want to be recruited by Illinois and some can help them-I know that. Sometimes I know it's a system and kids don't work well in those but some of these kids can if given the chance, " Topps said.
Antonio Topps, a 6-1 guard from Leo Catholic High School in Chicago, is getting some good looks from colleges. "I don't care where they play-whether it's UIC, Bradley, Illinois State or Loyola…just let them play."
During this interview Topps made it very clear he has no personal issues with the Illinois but does feel that they have missed out on a lot of players who could help them. Without mentioning names looking at the current team there's players out there right now that are clearly better than some they have on the team to date.
Another issue Topps has with all colleges, not just Illinois, is that some point they need to get out and see these kids…find out what they can or can't do and stop listening to other people opinions about whether they can play or not. The good coaches will do that.