The Future: 2008 & 2009

With a strong finish for this year's recruiting class, one can only wonder with so many good players in the class of 2008 and 2009 how much impact Bruce Weber can have. Read here for a list of potential recruits that are high on the Illini and visa versa.

Depending on what list you look at and who you talk to, Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber is starting to make more inroads with the upcoming classes. Just because a player doesn't mention Illinois or you don't see them listed on a database doesn't mean there's no interest. For example, 6-foot-4 junior Luke Loucks of Clearwater (FL), ranked as the nation's 13th best point guard, has some interest in Illinois. Just how much? It's not certain, but according to Loucks there has been some contact from the Illini about him.

Another guard from the class of 2008 is Verdell Jones from Champaign (IL) Central. No matter what this kid says or does, people think he's dead set on one school already. According to Jones - that's not true. In a previous conversation with Jones he said, "I really like Illinois. I think it would be cool to play for them. They are doing a good job of bringing in players and Coach Weber has proven what kind of coach he is." Jones lists the Illini but some don't think there's much of a chance with him, and that is not the case.

Delwan Graham a 6-5 wing from Dunwoody (GA) in the Class of 2008. The Illini have been tracking Graham for a long time now. Graham was described to me as a former Illini Warren Carter, but much stronger.

Anthony Tucker is a 6-foot-4 junior shooting guard from Minnetonka (MN). Tucker is fast becoming one of the top players in the Class of 2008. He's currently ranked as the nation's 28th best PG prospect, but has a good upside to his game because of his strong work ethic. Weber and staff this year, more so than years past, have made some good contacts with players and coaches from coast to coast. Those that follow recruiting recognize the names of guys like Iman Shumpert, Michael Dunigan, Darius Miller, Scott, Suggs, Dante Anderson, Lewis Jackson, Matthew Humphrey, John Brandenburg and DeAndre Liggins to round out the Class of 2008. This list is a short list and not all of the players on the Illini's wish list for that class.

Class of 2009 includes players such as Shawn Williams, DJ Richardson, Joseph Bertrand, D'Mitri Riggs and Marcus Jordan.

This list doesn't include all the players. There are no "Greg Odens" in the next few classes, but there're enough great players all across the nation that Weber should be able to land a few of these young men. What's different, from what I can tell from talking with recruits and coaches, is the Illini staff are identifying players at a younger age and aggressively pursuing the best players that fit their system. Keep in mind what Joseph Bertrand's high school coach, Peter Goff, said to us here at last week -"Weber is a good guy and honest. You can't ask for anymore than that. A lot of coaches sometimes lose sight of that."

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