Illini fans are not starting to get a little nervous about what players Head Coach Bruce Weber will land in the class of 2008. Yesterday Matthew Humphrey (6-5) from Hales Franciscan, a four-star recruit here at Scout.com, and Michael Dunigan (6-9) from Farragut Career Academy, a five-star recruit, both committed to Oregon.
"I really liked Illinois. I wish they had recruited me as hard today about a year and a half sooner; I really liked Illinois. When it was all done, they finished second in the running with UConn and Notre Dame next," said Humphrey.
So just what is it that's making the Illini appear to be bridesmaids with some of these recent recruits? Humphrey answered, "It's not that they are doing things wrong or they're not aggressive enough; I think they are. They're great guys. I talked to them yesterday and they wished me luck, which I thought was nice. But I really think they should pursue players at a younger age. Go after them and make the offer, then players will know how serious they are about them."
"I really wanted to play for Illinois, but I had to make the best choice for me. Everyone has been supportive of my decision. Now it's all behind me and I'm just going to play," Humphrey said.
What is the key? Oftentimes a coach may see a student-athlete but at the time there could be a number of reasons why a coach may not offer them: maybe a bad shooting day, foul trouble, you name it; but if the kid has talent it would seem best to ask the one person that sees the kid on a daily basis. "I've heard reasons why I was never offered but I never asked because the Illinois coaches have always been honest with me, so I just never asked."
Another example is Kannon Burrage of United Township (IL) High School. He knew Illinois Assistant Coach Jay Price was in attendance in Indianapolis, and it was by far the worst performance of the summer for him. "I knew he was there and it kind of got to me a little. I scored 19 points, but they were an ugly 19 points. The very next game I scored 39 points but he wasn't there," said Burrage. During that same tournament Alleman's 6-4 shooting guard Keelan Prince (2010) had a decent outing, holding his own against Zeke Marshall (2009), a 7-0 from McKeesport (PA). He was able to score 18 points in that contest. "I had a pretty decent showing that weekend, but last weekend at the Justin Sharp Shootout, my high school coach told me a school was coming to see me play, and it was my worst weekend of the summer," Prince said. From what it appears, Humphrey didn't showcase his skill level at all times, but now he's really blossomed into a great high school basketball player.
According to Humphrey, Illinois has a good staff and will be fine, but seriously should get in on a player sooner. One bad outing shouldn't deter any school from looking at a player again.
One thing I've noticed about the staff this year is they have become more aggressive. So who's next for the Illini? There's still plenty of talent in the class of 2008. Here's a list of players that the Illini are going after very hard: Iman Shumpert, Oak Park & River Forest HS (IL); Darius Miller, Mason Co HS, Maysville (KY); Scott Suggs, Washington (MO); Lewis Jackson, Decatur (IL); and Verdell Jones, Champaign (IL), just to name a few.
InsideIllini.com will be contacting a few of these players to see how their recruitment is going and how high their interest level is with the Illini.