Someone just called to inform me that Crandall Head, Rich South's sensational sophomore basketball player, will commit to Illinois on Sunday, after the Illini-Penn State game at Assembly Hall. It's a lock. Bet the mortgage. Take it to the bank. It'll be like a coronation. Illini Nation can start celebrating.
How good is Head? The 6-4 guard/forward is better than 6-6 Jereme Richmond of Waukegan, who already is committed to Illinois and has been rated as the No. 1 sophomore in the nation according to some recruiting services. So where does that put Head in the mix? It's a giddy thought.
With arguably two of the top five sophomores in the nation to go with three outstanding juniors--Warren's Brandon Paul, Sterling's Joseph Bertrand and Peoria Central's D.J. Richardson--who almost certainly will rank among the top 50 in their class nationally, Illini coach Bruce Weber has recruited two top 10 classes back-to-back and he's already working on more.
All of the Illini recruits were showcased at the recent Shootout in Champaign and Head was most impressive of all, scoring 34 points in a 62-60 victory over Champaign Centennial. He shot 14-of-21 from the field and 3-of-6 from three-point range. He is better and more athletic at his age than his older brother Luther, one of the stars of Illinois' 2005 NCAA runnerup.
Weber is loading up on guards, the cornerstone of his 2005 squad. He also has offered a scholarship to Whitney Young sophomore Anthony Johnson. And he is recruiting junior Dyricus Simms-Edwards of Washington, Ill., a teammate of Indiana-bound Matt Roth, and freshman Donivine Stewart of Bartonville Limestone.
It is significant that Weber is recruiting Simms-Edwards and Stewart because none of the other guards is a pure point guard, a Dee Brown or Deron Williams. Bertrand or Paul or Head could develop into a point guard but they don't possess that quality at the moment.
Recruiting analyst Joe Henricksen, editor of City/Suburban Hoops Report, rates Stewart with De La Salle's 6-8 Michael Shaw and Curie's 6-4 Wayne Blackshear as the best freshmen in the state.