Our Thoughts On The Jerrance Howard Hire

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By Roy & Harv Schmidt

It seems as though everyone in the state of Illinois has an opinion on the recent hiring of Jerrance Howard as the new assistant basketball coach at Illinois. With that being said, now is the time for us to offer our thoughts. Let's just say that they don't coincide with what appears to be the prevailing attitude throughout Chicago.

First of all, we are well aware of the sentiment that exists throughout the Chicago Public League when it comes to how they perceive recruiting at the University of Illinois. There is no question that they feel that they have been disrespected and on the short end of the stick ever since Bruce Weber arrived in Champaign. While they are certainly entitled to their opinion, that doesn't make it right.

Anyway, this blog is about Jerrance Howard, so hopefully everything that follows will be geared toward that subject. We begin with the laughable comments from Chicago Public League coaches saying that they don't even know who Howard is. Are you kidding us? If this is true, then it is obvious that these coaches don't follow Illinois high school basketball too closely, as Howard played on some outstanding teams at Peoria Central and while he may not have been a household name during his four years at Illinois, he was regarded by everyone who follows Illini basketball as one of their most dynamic and charismatic personalities. Therefore, to say that you don't know who Howard is must mean that you have been living in a cave.

As we could have predicted, Public League coaches are already knocking the Howard hire on the grounds that he is not a "Chicago guy" and doesn't know the Chicago way. While Howard is not a Chicago native, to make this argument sound to us like a classic case of putting the cart before the horse.

Now for our thoughts on the hire. Is Jerrance Howard the perfect hire or even the right hire? Our response to that is how can anyone realistically answer that question? It is simply way too early to tell. What we do know is that if Howard doesn't succeed as a recruiter at Illinois, it won't be from lack of enthusiasm or lack of effort.

Simply put, Howard has a passion for Illini basketball that might unequal any of his predecessors. He bleeds Orange and Blue, which is more important than most people can even begin to realize. He knows how to relate to recruits and knows how to speak their language. What this means is that Howard arrives in Champaign already having a knowledge of how to sell Illini basketball to prospective recruits.

We know that detractors will counter this argument by saying that Howard has absolutely no experience as a recruiter. Our response to that is how do you define experience? Granted, Howard has never been out on the road recruiting. However, for the past three years he has learned under one of the best recruiters in college basketball in Billy Gillispie and we are willing to bet that during that time Howard has picked up on more than a few tricks of the trade.

Furthermore, we can't emphasize enough how important it is that Howard has the endorsement of two of the most prominent AAU coaches in the Chicago area in Larry Butler with the Illinois Warriors and Mike Mullins with the Illinois Wolves. It is amusing that Public League coaches are saying that Butler doesn't have any pull in Chicago. Once again, are you kidding us? Have they checked any of Butler's recent Warriors rosters? Two of his best players in recent memory, Sherron Collins and Brandon McGee, both hailed from the Public League, as does one of his current players, that being Stan Simpson from Simeon. If that isn't pull, we don't know what is!

As for Mullins, has everyone forgotten that he coaches two of the top in-state prospects in the class of 2009 in Diamond Taylor from St. Joseph and Joe Bertrand from Sterling, who are both strong Illini recruiting targets? The fact that Mullins is speaking favorably about Howard can only be an added bonus when it comes to this situation.

Now let's get back to the issue of experience as it pertains to Howard. We have always felt that experience is overrated as it relates to a coach's recruiting ability. What is even more important is energy, passion and enthusiasm, all of which Howard possesses. Not only that, but if Public League coaches are going to use the experience argument as a means of alienating Howard, it simply doesn't hold water, particularly when reading the list of candidates that they were lobbying for. The bottom line is that with maybe one or two exceptions, none of them have any more experience than Howard and certainly don't know all of the ropes when it comes to recruiting.

Make no mistake about it--there is no question that Chicago will always be an important recruiting battleground for the University of Illinois when it comes to basketball recruiting. At the same time, who do these Public League coaches think they are to automatically assume that Illini recruiting has to begin and end with Chicago? Up until now, we have long thought that the Public League is an absolute recruiting necessity for Illinois and it probably still is. However, in light of the way Public League coaches continue to talk, we are now wondering if perhaps the downstate people are right when they say that Bruce Weber should simply cut off all ties with Chicago and concentrate primarily on trying to land top-tier recruits nationally with the hope that he could consistently win by doing so.

It seems to us that the Public League coaches are trying to chastize Howard before they even get an opportunity to meet him. We find it ironic that these coaches constantly stress the importance of having "one of their own" as an assistant coach at Illinois when it was long thought that they had just the guy in that regard in Tracy Webster. After all, Webster had developed a reputation (and one that was rightfully earned) throughout the Public League as being someone who players and coaches could relate to and someone who would be able to reestablish a recruiting pipeline between the University of Illinois and the Public League. Nevertheless, through no fault of Webster's own, this still wasn't enough to sway a single Public League recruit to Illinois during his tenure there. That is why we are firmly convinced that at this point it doesn't matter who the assistant coach at Illinois is, as it will never change the existing mindset of most Public League coaches. Therefore, we must ask why Bruce Weber doesn't have the right to hire an assistant who brings more to the table then just the ability to recruit Chicago.

In conclusion, we continue to be amazed at how much scrutiny the University of Illinois continues to receive for its recruiting inefficiency in Chicago, when the truth is there are some other prominent college basketball programs in the Midwest who have been shut out on Chicago recruits as well, some of whom (unlike Illinois) haven't even made the Public League that big of a recruiting priority. Yet you never hear about that from anyone around the Windy City.

The bottom line is that more than anything else, Jerrance Howard deserves to be given a chance. He has earned the right to prove himself both as a coach and a recruiter, not only to coaches in the Chicago Public League, but to everyone in college basketball.


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14 Comments

In your article you mention negative comments by some Public League coaches. What kind of comments and which coaches are making the comments? Based on what Robert Smith has said about Illinois earlier he seems to be on the side of the ILLINI.

We honestly have no idea which coach or coaches would have made these comments. However, we do have reason to believe that they did not come from Robert Smith.

That was one of the most informative articles I've read in a long time. Thanks for your insight on this.

It would appear we have a catch 22 going on here, where CPL coaches won't open up to Illinois, and in turn, Illinois isn't looking to the CPL, and in turn the CPL continues to close it's doors to Illinois, and. . .

George, I think Roy and Harv were referring to comments attributed to an anonymous Public League coach (or coaches) in a recent article written by Taylor Bell.

Roy and Harv might be overly generous in assuming these comments were not completely made up by Mr. Bell, who reliably goes out of his way to bash the Illini.

I graduated from the CPS system and I am tired of all this emphasis on the CPL in regards to the Illini. First, of all the recruiting problems Illinois are having are statewide. Jon Scheyer, Julian Wright, Iman Shumpert, and Matt Humphrey all recent recruits Weber has lost out on are not from the Public league, if Illinois had gotten all of these guys without a recruit from the CPL, I do not think most people would be complaining. Weber and co. just need to start landing some of the states top talent. The 2009 class with Diamond Taylor, Joseph Betrand, Branon Paul, D.J. Richardson none of these are from the CPL. The 2010 class Jereme Richmond, Deandre McCamey, and Crandall Head are not from the CPL if Weber can get 3 or 4 of those seven player I believe most people who think that the barometer would be pointing up for Illinois recruiting. People seem to forget the Calvin Brock is from the CPL and he was recruited by Weber.

The former Illinois coach did not have any "Chicago guys" on his staff. When was the last time a former CPL coach was part of any UI staff? If the former coach had no assistant with Chicago ties and that wasn't a sign disprespect, then what has Weber done to "disrespect" the CPL coaches? (Other than not kissing up to them, or worse...)

Kind of pathetic that they don't have the manhood to be quoted directly.

Dave hit it on the head. Taylor Bell is a joke, trying to stir something up that does not exist. In time, Robert Smith may end up on the Illinois Staff. I like Jerrance, and think he will do great.

All the CPL coaches should worry about is how to be the best coach to their team and school. If they have an outstanding player worthy of playing in college, they should help that prospective player and his parents when asked for their help and give their advise in a constructive, helpful way ONLY.
They need to learn that in life it doesn't matter where a person is from, only in how that person treats you and those that you care about. They say that Dee Brown would be the man in Chicago. If so, they need to realize that Dee Brown loved and still loves the Fighting Illini and admires Coach Weber. Most importantly, Dee loves and respects Jerrance Howard and would put all of his trust in Jerrance. Dee can't coach at Illinois right now because he is living his dream by playing as a player in the NBA. Do the CPL coaches, that are not brave enough to state their names, not understand that Dee is not available right now? On the other hand, Dee more than states that he endorses and admires and trusts
Jerrance Howard. Jerrance is the same young man that helped Dee and Deron, Luther, Roger, Augie, and the rest of the Illini, stay together and stay strong, when Bill Self left them all for Kansas.
Jerrance Howard, he is a special young man that feels so blessed to be back on the Illini. He will make a special coach for the Illinois team in so many positive ways, and coaches and players and fans all need to pay attention to Jerrance Howard. Jerrance is about to do wonderful things at the University of Illinois and any player that wants to learn and succeed will thrive under his trustworthy reputation. Coach Weber and Jerrance Howard and the rest of the coaching staff will absolutely get these players to what ever level in basketball that the individual players wish to go to through those individual's hard work and dedication to their coaching staff, and team. Jerrance is the right man for the job and he will achieve great things for himself and the Illini. I suggest that all coaches that want great things for their players wake up and not only give Jerrance a chance, but listen to him, believe in him and then learn that they can trust him. All they need to do is look at how Jerrance has handled his life with so many people's respect to this point in his life. He is ready to succeed with these young men's lives! Go Jerrance!

One of the better articles on the subjects to date. Some Illinois fans were outraged when we took Self from Tulsa, Kruger from Florida and Weber from SIU, all apparently from "lesser" basketball schools. We gave all of them a chance and they delivered, especially Weber. Jerrance should get the same treatment. Give him a chance and I hope the CPL coaches will stop being narrow minded about not getting your "guy" in Chicago. Passion for what you do, aligned with the right environment will create results. I think that's where Jerrance is right now.

The sun does not rise and set with the CPL. It would seem that certain coaches in the CPL think that the U of I owes them something, for whatever reason, and if the Illini want to recruit one of their players they have to go about it in a different way then the rest of the country.

So some Public League coaches are supposedly knocking the Howard hire, saying he's not a "Chicago guy" and doesn't know the "Chicago way"? I wonder who are these coaches and why don't they want to be known who they are? Webster was a "Chicago guy", and got the Illini basically nothing from Chicago, in fact, it seems that hes done more recruiting for Kentucky within the last year then for the Illini. Liggins, Miller anybody?

I'm wondering just what is the "Chicago way"? Maybe a suitcase of money in hand before any talks take place, an Escalade delivered to a relative of the family in care of such and such a person? Seriously if some coaches in the CPL think they need special treatment then I fully support Bruce from staying away from those coaches and not dealing with them. Not every coach is looking to get a hand out or be treated any more special then the next guy, Coaches like Robert Smith seem like great quality guys from comments they have made about the U of I and should be applauded!

With regard to this article written by Mr. Bell. Next time he should cite his sources if he wants to be taken seriously, and if these people don’t want to be quoted or be known who they are, then I say they are gutless to hide behind anonymous words and to make blind comments like they are about Howard and the U of I.

The Schmidts say in their blog that Webster is.. "someone who would be able to reestablish a recruiting pipeline between the University of Illinois and the Public League"

If Webster was such a great recruiter (like everyone says he is) why was he 0-for-Chicago in his time at Illinois? As an Illinois alum, I'm behind Howard's hire, mostly because he has a passion for the school and will learn how to recruit. There also should be hundreds of other reasons why a kid should pick Illinois that never are discussed. What about Weber out-coaching everyone Illinois plays against? What about it being a very good academic school in a major conference with tons of local and national TV coverage? What about it being close to home?

Increasingly, the high school coaches of these kids have less influence on the kids choice of schools than the AAU coaches do. So who cares what some unknown Public League coaches think of Weber and his program?

I think that most Illini fans (not all) focus too much unwarranted attention on the CPL when it comes to Illinois recruiting. So long as Weber and staff continue trying to lock down the Illinois borders (not just Chicago) and go after additional recruits nationally, I think IL basketball will be ok. The Howard hire certainly will help in recruiting circles and what I like about the hire is that he really, really wants to be working on behalf of the Illini, so we'll have some stability with him staying. We're not going to get every top-ranked kid out of Chicago, let alone the state. Illini fans need to accept that fact. Base your approval of the program on the on-court Wins, not just the recruiting battle wins. No one school has Los Angeles or New York City locked up as far as recruits go, why should Chicago be any different?

If I remember correctly, the U of I has had there greatest recruiting success with the players from Peoria, Not the CPL.

When Sergio McClain committed, then Marcus Grifin, then Frank and Brian (Lincoln), there was a new energy and infatuation with Illini BB.

I believe if you check and compare the record books, in terms of wins and losses, the years when there were Peoria Players have been some of the most successful for Illini BB, and I will include the Mark Smith, Derek Holcombe, Tony Wysinger years!

As a neice to howard, i think he is great for the job. Having credibility in a city is only part of the elements for being successful. Knowing how to comminicate with people, and making them feel welcomed is the other half. You can have all the credibility in the world but if you're not a welcoming person i know i wont play for you. I know firsthand how great this man is going to be, just check the records (Illinois is currently number 8 in the country,

Dont doubt the Howard Factor.

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This page contains a single entry by Roy & Harv Schmidt published on September 20, 2007 1:40 PM.

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