I can't imagine why so many card-carrying members of Illini Nation are interested in what I think about Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber's ability to land oral commitments from guards D.J. Richardson of Peoria Central and Brandon Paul of Warren.
I would have replied to them directly but I discovered--why am I not surprised?--that most of them didn't provide correct e-mail addresses. They'd rather make silly remarks rather than indulge in an intelligent conversation.
Anyway, for what it's worth, here is what I think about Richardson/Paul:
They aren't Derrick Rose and Sherron Collins.
They aren't Jon Scheyer and Mike Dunigan.
They aren't Eric Gordon and DeAndre Liggins.
They aren't Julian Wright and Iman Shumpert.
I wish they were.
Richardson is a very good point guard with considerable potential. He is a top 100 prospect by every recruiting analyst's evaluation. Another Deron Williams? Let's wait and see. Peoria has been good to Illinois in the past.
But it was a given that Richardson would commit to Illinois, wasn't it? Can you imagine the negataive backlash if Wayne McClain and Jerrance Howard, two native Peorians, couldn't have persuaded Richardson to come to Champaign?
Paul is another matter. He is unproven. He had a good summer and maybe Weber beat the other big-time programs to him. If so, it will be a coup. But do Richardson and Paul shape up as the Illini backcourt of the future?
It's a positive start for Howard. And Weber, after so many recruiting disappointments in the wake of the glorious 2004-05 Final Four season, finally added some talent to his roster. But he has yet to prove that he can bring in a "franchise" player to lead Illinois back to the Final Four.
Let's not get giddy over this, as some Internet contributors seem to suggest. This isn't Chief Illiniwek being reinstated. This isn't Ron Zook's football team beating Michigan and Ohio State and going to the BCS.
Giddy is Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon playing in the same backcourt for one year, acting as pied pipers for the next generation of Illini difference-makers and building a series of Final Four contenders.
Giddy is Greg Starrick and Rich Yunkus in 1967 or Jim Brewer and Clyde Turner in 1969 or Quinn Buckner and Roger Powell in 1972.
Now that's what I call recruiting.
If Illini Nation construes this as negative commentary, so be it. They need to get a dose of realism. Cheerleaders don't win basketball games.