Abrams' Commitment Could Be Just The Beginning For The Illini In 2011

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By Roy & Harv Schmidt

We told everyone in a previous blog back in October that Jerrance Howard and the University of Illinois had completely turned the tables in the recruitment of Tracy Abrams. Right then and there we knew that the Illini were the leader for Abrams' services. What we did not know was that the Illini coaching staff would be able to close the deal so quickly. With that in mind, we firmly believe that the dominos are just beginning to fall into place regarding Bruce Weber's recruitment of the 2011 class. Quite frankly, while we don't know what the time frame will be, we would be surprised at this point if other prized 2011 recruits don't ultimately pledge their commitments to the Illini.

We have to admit that we would have never predicted that Abrams would be the first player from the loaded 2011 class in Illinois to render a verbal commitment. In fact, at the end of the July evaluation period our prediction on the Illini's first 2011 commitment would have been 6'2 guard Chasson Randle from Rock Island, as rumor had surfaced at that time that Randle was a strong Illini lean and could be on the verge of commiting.

However, things changed when Illini assistant coach Jerrance Howard learned that Reggie Rose, who is Abrams' AAU coach, was not the one in control of the Abrams recruitment. At that point, Howard went full-speed ahead in his effort to close the deal on Abrams and worked non-stop to get it done. Howard was absolutely relentless in his follow-up, as he watched Abrams play at both the Lane Tech Thanksgiving Tournament and the CPS Boy's Basketball Shootout once the high school season started. To say that this made a huge impression on Abrams is a gross understatement. Just another example of why Howard has rapidly become one of the premier recruiters in all of college basketball.

There is also something to be said about the fact that the Illini were the only school to offer Abrams a scholarship, which they did immediately upon him making his first visit to Champaign. This is a factor that has undoubtedly become of prime importance with respect to getting elite-level prospects to commit early, and such was the case with Abrams. While Abrams also visited Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, none of those schools came forward with scholarship offers. Our colleague Michael O'Brien asked us why no one else stepped up to the plate to offer Abrams after Illinois did so, and while we don't have a definite answer, our response was that perhaps the other schools recruiting Abrams already knew what the rest of us didn't know at the time, in other words that it was a done deal.

But now on to the question that everyone wants answered. With Abrams now in the fold, what everyone wants to know is how his commitment will impact future Illini recruiting in the class of 2011. As we have indicated before, the answer is that when it comes to 2011, the Illini's future is limitless. In fact it has probably never been brighter. We have always said that when one great player pulls the trigger and offers up an early commitment, it often prompts others to follow suit. With that being said, we think that could very well end up being the case for Weber and the Illini.

At the present time, we have every reason to believe that Illinois is in great shape with Mike Shaw, the 6'7 forward from De LaSalle and our #1 ranked player in the state from the 2011 class. Abrams and Shaw are very good friends and have already expressed a strong desire to possibly play on the same college team. While it has been stated that many of the top players in the class of 2011 would love to have Abrams as a teammate, we know for a fact that there are plenty who would be overjoyed to join forces with Shaw as well.

Another player who could be heavily impacted is Randle. While other schools recruiting Randle will undoubtedly try to up the ante now that Abrams has pledged to Illinois, we are telling everyone that the Illini coaching staff is still recruiting Randle and will now try to sell him on the idea of playing in the same back court with Abrams. Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how this one develops.

And then there are the AAU implications. While Abrams' current traveling team is the Chicago Express, he has also played sparingly for the Mac Irvin Fire and there has been some talk that Abrams could possibly join forces with the Fire on a permanent basis come next spring. All of which is important, because there is no question that the Illini coaching staff has made huge in-roads with Mac Irvin, the CEO of the Fire and one of the most influential high school basketball figures in Chicago. In case anyone hasn't noticed, other members of the Fire include 6'4 class of 2010 guard Crandall Head from Crane, who is also an Illini commit, as well as Shaw, 6'5 forward Wayne Blackshear from Curie and 6'5 wing Sam Thompson from Whitney Young, all of whom are among the Illini's top recruiting priorities in 2011. And then there are the rumors surrounding the possibility of yet another Illini commit, 6'7 Jereme Richmond from Waukegan (who is our #1 ranked player in Illinois from the class of 2010) joining the Fire as well. Does everyone get our drift?

As we have also previously indicated, ideally speaking the Illini coaching staff would like to be able to land at least two 2011 prospects from amongst Shaw, Blackshear and Thompson and then pair Abrams with either Randle or possibly 5'10 point guard Donovine Stewart from Bartonville Limestone. While all of this may have been nothing more than a mere afterthought a year ago, we now believe that it is something that is clearly within the realm of possibility.

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9 Comments

Explain this to me. If Howard is such a star recruiter, and he appears to be just that, what makes you so certain that he will not be a head coach somewhere in the country other than Illinois by 2011? And if that happens, he will likely take all his 'new shiny toys' with him!

The year 2011 is a long, long, long way off, especially in this day and age with recruits changing their minds regularly. Unless the NCAA changes and makes verbals binding (highly unlikely), talk of an NCAA championship in 2012 is a bit premature no?

Roy & Harv Respond:


Talk of an NCAA championship is always premature for any team. However, with the talent that has been assembled at the University of Illinois over the next three years, the ingredients are there to make a run at it. As for Jerrance Howard, we think that a future head coaching job will be available for him in the future whenever he wants it, regardless of the time frame. We can guarantee you this--he would love to be part of a national championship in Champaign.

Don't forget about the possibility of the Illini pairing Missouri shooting guard Bradley Beal with Abrams also in the 2011 class.

Roy & Harv Respond:


We haven't. We were talking solely about in-state prospects from the class of 2011.

Aren't the Illini now overloaded with guards and small forwards? Who will be playing the power forward and center positions with these recruits? Looks like they may have a 4 guard offense.

Roy & Harv Respond:


Well, they ran a 3 guard offense in 2005 and got to the national championship game. More and more college coaches will tell you that they don't care who plays the 1, 2,3, 4 or 5. You simply put the best players on the floor regardless of position. But to answer your question, Meyers Leonard will prove to be effective at either the 4 or the 5 with the talent that he will have surrounding him.

Regarding Howard... isn't he only 27 years old? Not too many Div 1 programs are going to jump on a 30 year old head coach, and as much as he loves Illinois and Weber I don't see him jumping ship at the first offer anyway. All that to say, I wouldn't remotely worry about Howard going anywhere for several more years.

Roy & Harv Respond:


Agreed.

COACH MCCLAIN HASN'T LEFT TO BECOME A HEAD COACH, SO
WHY WOULD COACH HOWARD!
WHY GO COACH AT A MID-MAJOR AND LEAVE A GREAT PLACE LIKE
U OF I, REMEMBER COACH HOWARD PLAYED IN CHAMPAIGN!
HE WANTS TO COACH AT U OF I, AND HIS RECRUITING EFFORTS
ARE SECOND TO NONE!
BESIDES I DON'T BELIEVE THE U OF I FAMILY WANTS HIM TO
GO ANYWHERE!
HE IS WHAT JIMMY COLLINS WAS TO LOU HENSON!
SIMPLY OUTSTANDING!
WHAT DAY ARE YOU GUYS COMING TO THE BIG DIPPER TOURNEY?

Roy & Harv Respond:


Phil,


It looks like we will be at the Big Dipper for the second day of action for what should be some outstanding quarterfinal games.

IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT POSITIONS YOU WANT TO CALL THEM,
IF YOU WATCHED THE GAME TONIGHT WITH LEGION IN THE
LINE-UP, THE TREND IS TO PLAY ATHLETES WHO CAN DRIBBLE
AND CREATE THEIR OWN SHOT WITHIN THE GUIDELINES OF THE
MOTION OFFENSE, THE FIGHTING ILLINI DESTROYED THE
OPPOSITION, WITH RICHMOND, HEAD, PAUL, ABRAMS, THE PARTS ARE THERE TO CREATE HAVOC IN THE FUTURE AS WELL!
QUIET AS IT IS KEPT MCCAMEY MAY GO PRO AFTER THIS
SEASON, ALL OF THESE GUYS WILL NOT STAY ALL FOUR YEARS
IN CHAMPIONSHIP LAND!
I BELIEVE THE FIGHTING ILLINI WILL NEVER AND I MEAN
NEVER HAVE ANOTHER DOWN SEASON FOR A LONG TIME TO COME!

JT must be from Indiana.. Jerrance isn't going anywhere for many of years too come.. If for some crazy reason he chose to leave, the last thing he would do is take any recruit's from his alma-mater... As for jk, all the talent UofI has coming in has been playin together or has wanted to play together for a very long time.. As far as who will play center/forward, we have Richmond,Leonard,Simpson and mant to come.. I believe all will be selfless to win, and accomplish the big pic..

Don't forget Tyler Griffey....He's a top 100 recruit, stands 6-8 at least, and will be able to play the power forward position with all of the UofI stud shooting guards/small forwards coming in. I believe the same is true of 6-9 Stan Simpson. Looks like he will redshirt this year and have 4 good seasons left with the new Illini gold.

Roy & Harv Respond:


John,


Good points!

Lets not worry about who's gonna play what position, not many college teams have a true center, and if they do he's only about 6"10 anyway! its much tougher for guy's like that to try and guard athletic wings such as jereme richmond as who's a legit 6"7. if you have explosive guards and wings you'll have a mismatch almost every night. don't forget roger powell was our 4 man in that 2005 final four run. and he was only listed at 6"6!!

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This page contains a single entry by Roy & Harv Schmidt published on December 18, 2008 10:53 PM.

Meyers Leonard--The State's Best Big Man Right Now was the previous entry in this blog.

"Time Has Come Today" For Dre Henley is the next entry in this blog.

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