By Joe Henricksen

Mike Shaw keeps Illini recruiting rolling

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By Joe Henricksen

A particular criticism of Illinois basketball last season was a lack of toughness and strength. That should change in coming years with the addition of Robinson big man Meyers Leonard, who is a freshman at Illinois this season, and, hopefully, the Illini's newest commitment -- De La Salle's Mike Shaw.

Although the Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier in the week Shaw to Illinois was a done deal, the 6-8 junior plans to officially announce his verbal commitment to coach Bruce Weber on Thursday afternoon at a press conference at De La Salle High School. Shaw will join Mount Carmel point guard Tracy Abrams, Orr's 6-6 scorer Mycheal Henry and St. Ignatius big man Nnanna Egwu in what is shaping up to be a solid recruiting class.

The Shaw recruitment has had some twists and turns, much of which was created by continued wild internet speculation. Illinois did all it could for the past three-plus years in making sure it remained in the Shaw Sweepstakes until the very end. And while Illinois has always been front and center with Shaw, things began to officially solidify late last week, just prior to Shaw's visit to Illinois this past weekend.

Shaw came into high school as the Next Big Thing, a freshman at De La Salle with the size, body and skills of a player that looked to be a phenom. The problem was Shaw faced what the Hoops Report calls "Galifianakis Syndrome." Say what? Whoa, that sounds serious. Follow me here for a second.

Zach Galifianakis bursts on the scene with an impossible-to-top performance in "The Hangover" as the outrageously funny Alan. Now, no matter what Galifianakis is in -- HBO's "Bored to Death," his two new movies "It's Kind of a Funny Story" and "Due Date" or even "The Hangover 2"-- he can never be as funny, appreciated or loved as he was in the "The Hangover." It's absolutely impossible to live up to those comedic expectations. You watched that movie and just said, "Wow! Who is that guy?" as your stomach hurt from laughter.

While Shaw's progress did plateau a bit, of all the kids in the loaded Class of 2011 it was Shaw who had by far the loftiest standards to live up to since coming out of junior high. He was labeled quickly, talked about repeatedly as the next great prep star out of Chicago. But the hype was a bit much for any young basketball player to be expected to reach.

Shaw, who remains one of the coveted players in a talented senior class in Illinois, is still among the top dozen prospects in the state in the Class of 2011 by the Hoops Report. He's ranked much higher by others. He's also considered a consensus top 100 player nationally, though the Hoops Report hasn't believed that to be the case for the past year. Whether the Hoops Report believes he's a top 100 talent nationally doesn't matter. Illinois wanted him and got him.

With the body and frame Shaw already features, he certainly looks the part. He will only add weight and strength to his college-ready body. In a few years, with the proper training, Shaw should be an absolute man physically. Plus, he has the fortitude to stick his nose in things around the basket and on the boards, battle, compete against anyone and use his physical attributes -- when he wants to.

Shaw is capable of stepping out and knocking down the 18-20 foot jumper, but he's far from consistent. He runs the floor very well, is a solid passer, rebounds and, above all, is a solid character kid who is coachable. Of all the highly-regarded prospects in the Class of 2011, Shaw is one who just goes out and plays, does what is needed and doesn't get caught up in the amount of touches and opportunities he receives. When others have sat for various reasons, Shaw was a constant -- both for his high school team and his Mac Irvin Fire club team. The 6-8 De La Salle product will be a player Illinois fans will grow to appreciate if the expectations aren't too high for a player who is overrated nationally -- and even locally by some.

While the superlatives thrown towards assistant coach Jerrance Howard have been well documented, they continue with the commitment of Shaw. This was the one recruitment that went the distance where Howard was there from wire to wire. Abrams was an early commit, Egwu's was done well before the final July period even began, and Henry's recruitment was fast, furious and ended quickly.

Illinois was in on Shaw early, stuck with it for over three years and got it done a few weeks before signing day. There was some heavy lifting by Weber and Howard in a recruitment that stretched over three years. While the public perception was that this recruitment was a fight to the end, Illinois has been the leader and the school to beat over the past few months. Illinois just had to hold on and fight off the challengers.

With Shaw, Henry, Abrams and Egwu all committed, Illinois has positioned itself as having one of the better recruiting classes in the country in the Class of 2011. While the class could end up being a tad bit over-inflated by national analysts as a result of some inflated individual player rankings, it could still be argued this is one of the best recruiting classes Illinois has put together because of the depth and needs, with the possibility of Weber adding yet another player to this class. On top of that, all four commitments hail from high schools in the city of Chicago, with Henry playing in the Chicago Public League and Abrams, Shaw and Egwu all part of the Chicago Catholic League.

Illinois can now wrap things up with a lightning strike if it can land Devin Langford out of Huntsville, Ala. While Langford may not have the eye-opening national rankings fans salivate over, what hasn't been realized throughout the whole Chasson Randle wait-and-see recruiting saga was the infatuation Weber and the Illinois staff have had for the 6-6 Langford. Illinois, which has made multiple trips to Alabama, is enamored with Langford's versatility and potential.

Langford, who will make an official visit to Illinois this weekend, is described by one college assistant coach in the south as being "as versatile as they come with instincts and a great feel for the game." Langford is capable of playing any one of three different perimeter positions. And Illinois hopes Langford, who the Illini think more highly of than most, fills the fifth slot in what is a stellar Class of 2011.

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26 Comments

Yes! This is big for Illini and for Mike Shaw. Joe: Could you please explain to me the ACT/commitment/timing thing and debate others are writing about constantly? What in the world difference does it make if he took the test or not? Would Illinois NOT have taken his commitment three weeks ago or a month or two ago before he took the test? Of course they would have. It makes no sense. Explain. Thanks and you were right on this one.

Nice get for Illini but think a lot of people overestimating (again!) him as a prospect. He is limited but still a quality high-major prospect.

Never seen a recruitment so wildly overblown and inaccurate. Where do people get their info? There was one recruiting website a month or two ago claiming DePaul being in so deep with Mike Shaw and getting all excited about the Blue Demons stirring up the Shaw recruitment. Please. Anyone who was close to Shaw knew that wasn't the case. He was looking at DePaul as a favor to others and keeping them on the list. Oh, well. Glad this one is over.

Only place I can find basketball recruiting and a reference to the funniest movie character ever!!!!!! Love it. Mike Shaw will look good in orange and blue.

Blue Eyes is so right. I too have been absolutely dumbfounded by the matter of the ACT being taken and the connection with a commitment for Shaw. Illinois offered him, would have taken him last spring, would have taken him last month --- all before he took the test.

Mike Shaw crowns this 2011 class for my alma mater Illinois and makes it a very balanced class which beautifully complements the players returning next year. Adding Langford will round it out as a complete team in one class! Three great classes in a row! Illinois is ready to contend again for a national championship and perhaps even start a dynasty if Chicago's 2013-14 blue chippers join the family.

Just an outstanding get by BW, JH, and the Illini program. Mike Shaw will have a super college career at U of I. Final Fours are in the cards for the orange and blue.

Zach Galifianakis actually came onto the scene as the funniest guy in the movie Out Cold. That movie came out well before The Hangover and Galifianakis was a pretty well established comedian by the time he really hit it big last year.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that, to fratters around the country, he burst onto the scene way before 2009.

The average movie fan didn't know that dude or how funny he was until the Hangover. I never have even heard of the movie Out Cold until I had to look it up. At least now I can go rent it. Thanks beenstewdotcom! Go Illini!

Is there really a debate going whether that fat pudgy funny guy hit it big before the Hangover in a Mike Shaw commitment blog? Movie must have been stellar if we didn't see him for another eight years in a movie. Funny dude does make me laugh. This is the last of the 2011 kids right? Down year in 2012 and then back to it in 2013 and 2014.

Was Galifianakis a better comedy movie actor before Hangover or Mike Shaw a better prospect before going to Illinois? Ah-ha!

Where will Illinois class rank nationally Joe? Where is it at now? Thanks and great work as always.

Gotta say Shaw better prospect as a freshman than Galifaiankais guy, since I had never heard of him! But the fat bearded guy has jumped into another stratsosphere as far as being a wanted movie star and funny man. You right. Can't live up to the hype now. Imagine if Illinois could have gotten Bradley Beal in this class!

Upon reading of Mr. Shaw's commitment to the Illini, I looked at delasalle's schedule to see which game I could see.

Not only does delasalle play home and away games against hales, joe's and rita, but they will play Simeon in december the day after they play St. Joe's.

They also play Hillcrest. That means they will play both defending state champions and a 2a qualifier.

Then delasalle ends the year against Perspectives and the moneyman!

This proves that schools do not need to schedule around the country shootouts when they can schedule alot of games against quality in-state opponents.
Good scheduling Coach!

It is my understanding that an offer of scholarship cannot be accepted before the ACT is attempted. His HS coach said he need a pretty good score to qualify, Im not sure what number that is.

To dupage fan. Do you think Jereme Richmond had taken his ACT his freshman year when he accepted the offer from Bruce Weber and Illinois in November of his freshman year? Do you think Ryan Boatright had taken his ACT in 8th grade when he committed to USC? Schools can offer scholarships when they want; kids can commit anytime they want.

Are people still on this ACT and committing debate? May be the most useless conversation regarding recruiting I have seen. Taking the ACT has nothing to do with accepting an offer from a school. Plus schools roll the dice on prospects who are not qualified all the time. You would be shocked how many kids commit and sign in November before they have even qualified.

i just have to laugh that someone used the name carlos commenting. "not at the table carlos". and if U of I can land the talent in 2013 like Hamilton and Parker, then cash in on the likes of Okafor and Yarbrough in 2014, no telling how good this program can become

Great catch Andy! Picturing "Carlos" in Alan's Front Pack Baby Carrier right now!!!!!! All the movies this funny man has coming out, no way they are any good. Hope his stock doesn't fall. And hope Shaw's rises.

In comparison Shaw was the bigger prospect at his early time as a prep star than Alan was as a comedy actor. He had a show on cable once that failed, didn't even make it. Alan was a "one-man wolfpack." Shaw's wolfpack has grown!

Can't wait for the season to start!!!!!! Shaw, De La Salle and the Catholic League will be fun to watch. No one will touch the Meteors in the Catholic League though!

Its great that Illinois has all these great players coming in. But if u know what I mean...they have yet to sign that primetime, 5 star nationally recruited project. I know they signed Jereme Richmond. But I'm waiting for them to sign a Top 5 guy. Not that they won't be a good team but i think it would help the program tremendously if they could haul in a Harrison Barnes or a Jared Sullinger or a Austin Rivers. Anyone follow me?

MIKE. He's coming. Jabari Parker. Top 10. Future Illini star! Gotta get him.

Anyone see the sports salaries in Chicago's Tribune? Snacks Howard is making $180K, which is more than many other state school head coaches in revenue sports. Guess that's what it takes to keep him from making a move. Interesting to see as I think this shows the value U of I sees in him. Going to be awfully hard to pull him away from Champaign with that salary...would have to be the head coach of a program AND may have to be a relatively high mid-major to beat that salary!

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on October 28, 2010 1:42 PM.

Chasson Randle heading to Stanford was the previous entry in this blog.

Mike Turner commits to Northwestern is the next entry in this blog.

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