Great Things Come In Threes, Illini Are Hot
Luckily enough, last year and this past summer, I was able to witness 6-4 combo-guard Joseph Bertrand play a number of times. Each time I watched him play, the kid left me wanting more. I say that in the most positive way, because I could see all the things he can do on the court that other players only dream of. A lot of people like to over-analyze recruits but I'm not one of them. Bertrand can play and that's that.
It's obvious that Weber is trying to piece together his most athletic team since the Final Four run in 2004-05 and he's off to a great start. All three of the recent verbal commitments, Bertrand, D.J. Richardson (Peoria, IL) and Brandon Paul (Gurnee, IL), can create, shoot, and finish in traffic. Additionally, each seems to be able to play the one, two, or three position, like former Illini greats Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Luther Head.
Bertrand, the most recent Illini verbal, is ranked here at Scout.com as a four-star recruit. I got a chance to speak to him this morning.
Joseph first of all congratulations on your commitment last night.
Thank you, I'm just glad it's all over with, I picked a great school. I liked the coaches and players down there so it's a good situation for me.
You had offers on the table from schools like Wisconsin, SIU, Marquette and Notre Dame. What sold you on the Fighting Illini?
I've liked them for a long time. I know a lot of the players there. I'm very good friends with Demetri McCamey, we played on the same AAU team together, the Illinois Wolves, and his little brother played with me this summer, too. On Columbus Day, I went to visit Illinois and I actually attended a class with Demetri. It was a shorten day but I really liked it.
Illinois has recently received some of the best recruiting news on the basketball front in sometime. Are you excited about playing with the two new players Weber just brought in: D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul?
Oh yes for sure, we should be very good. Coach Weber is a great coach, he's good at developing his players and making them better. That's a fact! I think once we all get there he could help make us better and put us back in the Final Four again.
Joseph, tell me what you liked about this staff versus some of the others?
Well I like Coach Wayne McClain, he's a funny guy and I talked with Coach Weber a lot. I've known Weber since my 8th grade year from going to his camps so I've always liked him.
What has school been like at Sterling since you committed last night?
It's been ok so far. Not a lot of people know because it happened so late last night but I'm sure as the day goes on, more people will talk to me about it.
When did you actually decide Illinois was the best place for you?
Yesterday morning, sometime around 11:00 or 12:00, I just called and told them I was coming.
Thanks Joseph and I'll see you tonight at Midnight Madness
Thank you and I'm looking forward to it.
We also spoke with Bertrand's high school coach, Peter Goff, this morning and here's what he had to say about his All State guard: "First, I'm very happy for Joe, he's a great kid and he's been surrounded by great teammates and his mother has done a great job with him. Joe's a good kid and sometimes watching him play you would never know all these big-time schools were recruiting him. He's very unselfish and he's a great teammate, he distributes the ball very well. I told him he's a junior now and we need for him to be more assertive this year and be more aggressive which I think he will. His upside is tremendous, he's a legit outside and inside threat, which is a nice asset. I really want people to know how good of a job Coach Weber did recruiting Joseph, and I have to tell you he was very close to going to SIU, and Wisconsin was close in the race also. I've already called Coach Lowery and told him of Joseph's decision and when I get off the phone with you, I'm going to call Wisconsin."
Coach Goff made a point of making sure one particular thought was made known: "Kedric please add this, I said it to you before but it's so true, Coach Weber turns All Stater's into All Americans and most college coaches turn All American's into All Stater's."
The future of Fighting Illini basketball certainly looks bright, in light of the recent events. And, as noted above, the good news may not be over. Keep it tuned as things are heating up.
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