By Joe Henricksen
Eastern Illinois coach Mike Miller continues to take steps in rebuilding the basketball program in Charleston. Earlier today the Panthers received a verbal commitment from Elgin's Jeremy Granger. The 6-1 point guard will sign officially next Wednesday.
While teammate Armani Williams received more headlines throughout his career at Elgin, it was Granger who emerged as the top player in the Upstate Eight Conference and a more complete player. Granger, who brings toughness and scoring ability to the lead guard position, blossomed over the second half of the season and helped lead the Maroons to a surprising run to the supersectional in March. This could turn out to be a late recruiting steal for Miller and his Panthers.
Great to see voters get it right
While both Farragut's Mike Dunigan and Oak Park's Iman Shumpert were McDonald's All-Americans, it was great to see voters for the Mr. Basketball Award get it right in Illinois with the selection of Homewood-Flossmoor's Kevin Dillard. The truth is, if it wasn't going to be Dillard it should have been Decatur Eisenhower's Lewis Jackson -- not the more hyped Dunigan or Shumpert. This award has had bigger names and more high-profile prospects than Dillard, but in this particular year it was Dillard who was most deserving.
Even bigger emphasis recruiting Chicago
Both Southern Illinois and Toledo have been heavily involved in recruiting the Chicago area over the last several years. That should only increase more with the hiring of Gene Cross as head coach at Toledo and Lance Irvin as assistant coach at Southern Illinois. Cross has been a constant in recruiting the state of Illlinois as an assistant, most recently at Notre Dame. And the hiring of Irvin looks to be a no-brainer for the Salukis with how loaded Mac Irvin's Fire AAU program is right now. Lance Irvin is the son of Mac Irvin, the originator of the Fire traveling basketball program.