By Joe Henricksen
With the odd process and late hiring of coach Howard Moore at UIC, the question that dogged the staff immediately was with so little time how would the Flames get things done in the Class of 2011 before the November signing period? With still over a month to go before signing day, Moore and his staff have already made a dent.
The sweet shooting Jerome Brown of Morgan Park gave a verbal commitment to UIC on Friday, which provides Moore and his staff its first Chicago area player. More importantly, it's a Chicago area player that can play. Brown, regarded by the City/Surburban Hoops Report as one of the state's underrated players and the premier three-point shooter, should fit in quite nicely in UIC's system.
Brown, who established a quick and strong relationship with the UIC staff, is excited about playing his college basketball in his back yard.
"I like that it's close to home," said Brown of playing at UIC. "Everything just felt real good with UIC, a family type of atmosphere. The staff, from coach Moore to coach Kirksey, made me feel wanted and made me feel at home. This was the place to be for me."
With the star power Brown played with on both his Mac Irvin Fire club team in the summer and his Morgan Park team last winter, his role was somewhat limited. He evolved into a designated sniper from the perimeter -- a la Craig Hodges back in the day -- and flourished in that role. But Brown, who does have to clearly improve his ballhandling and playmaking ability, also brings size to the perimeter and a dimension every coach covets: an ability to stretch a defense and put the ball in the hole.
UIC received a commitment earlier in the week from 6-11 Will Simonton of Fishburne Military Academy in Virginia. After talking with various people who have seen Simonton play and watching some highlights of the prospect, UIC is getting a very talented and skilled big man. He can face up, play comfortably with his back to the basket and is aggressive. Simonton uses both hands inside around the rim and has a soft touch from the line.
With Simonton and Brown in the fold, Moore and UIC have a much-desired big man and a bonafide shooter on the perimeter. Not bad for a little over a month of work.