2010 is Right Around the Corner

InsideIllini.com spoke with freshman phenom James Bell a couple months ago and he made mention of his thoughts on the Illinois basketball program. Last night I caught up with Bell again for an update on what's up next.

James Bell is a 6-4 freshman from Jacksonville's (FL) Arlington Country Day and has the attention of Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber. Bell is a very intelligent young man with a boatload of talent. One talent evaluator said this about Bell: "That kid can do it all. He's very athletic, smart; he's the total package for a kid his age."

Being a good judge of talent can mean a lot of things. So many times coaches miss out on freshman players because they judge them on whether they play or start varsity basketball or not. Don't get me wrong - that's a good barometer, but not the only selling point. Freshman DeAndre McCamey, a 6-1 point guard from St. Joseph High School in Illinois, is rated one of the top players in his class and has never played one minute of varsity basketball. According to McCamey, his high school coach is old school and doesn't believe that freshman should play varsity. However, at the end of the season McCamey did practice with the varsity. Bell's team must have been a great one. "We won state this year. That was nice, especially with me being a freshman. I don't start but I play a lot. I scored eight points and had 10 rebounds in the championship game," said Bell.

What does Bell know about the Illini? "I used to get tons of letters and stuff, but it's been awhile. I know a lot of that has to do with the tournament. I still like them and I try to watch them on TV when I can. I saw them play a week ago I think, but all the schools that are interested in me I try to watch play," Bell said.

The future is very bright for Bell. He's not even thinking about naming a favorite at this point. "It's too early for that. I really don't have a list - when I get older I will, but not right now."

Earlier in the year Weber told the media that they would change how they did things when it comes to recruiting. What that means no one knows for sure, however this week I've talked with a number of them and the one consistent word I'm hearing is they're "aggressive" in their approach now. Illinois already has one stud committed from the class of 2010 - Jereme Richmond, a 6-6 guard/forward from North Shore Country Day in Illinois. The key may be who comes in along with him. The class of 2010 is a good one from all accounts. This is one Weber and company will not sleep on.

Illini Inquirer Top Stories