Illini Get Their Man

When Tracy Webster resigned his position as the University of Illinois men's basketball coach, it caused some major concerns with fans from Illini Nation coast to coast. But yesterday, Weber found his new guy. spoke with Jerrance Howard this morning.

The hiring of Jerrance Howard was one of the worst kept secrets in Illini Land in a long time - Coach Weber finally got his man. When the job opened up Weber received calls from a lot of people because the interest level in Illini basketball has always been high.

One hand Weber was dealt was hiring the right guy who fits what he's about, as well as someone that will sell Illinois basketball. Denise Smith, mother of Deron Williams, said, "I tell you what, Kedric. I don't know what the Illini fans think of the hiring of Jerrance, but there's no better person in the world who loves that school more than he does and he bleeds orange and blue. All the boys love and respect him. It's so much easier for someone like Jerrance to say what it's like to play for Illinois and Coach Weber and what Illinois basketball is about."

Those who know Howard understand this young man has a work ethic that will not be matched. He also understands what Weber is trying to teach his young team. Why? Because Jerrance played a year for Weber and it's a lot easier from that aspect, too. He's not just a recruiter - Howard's a coach. spoke with Howard this morning and from the sounds of things this young man is tired from the phone calls and getting all the necessary things to start his job officially at Illinois. "Today I take the NCAA test for coaches. After that, get a few other things in order and I'll be ready to go. Yesterday was great - meeting with the media, signing my contract, all of it. The support here has been great. Today after my test I want to watch the boys work out. Kedric, this is truly a blessing for me. I'm very excited about this opportunity," said Howard.

Naturally fans want to know what approach Howard plans to take when it comes to recruiting. Like Denise Smith said, Jerrance is the right man and here's why. "First and foremost I want to get out and meet the great high school and AAU coaches in our great state, Chicago or wherever, and tell them what we're about and just get to know them. Then I will get things going nation-wide. We're going to recruit the entire country. I learned a lot from Billy Gillespie and he was good to me and I want to keep it that way, along with Tracy Webster; at the end of the day we're all good friends. But this is a business and my ultimate goal is Illinois and to get the best players here for us," Howard said.

Once the dust settles down and Howard can go out and hit the recruiting trails, I'm pretty confident that he will be able to give the best pitch that anyone could for Weber and the Illini.

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