(While I am on hiatus for the next month, I am leaving behind six articles--(July 1) Jamie Brandon, former King basketball star, (July 2) Q&A with Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, who grew up in the Chicago area, (July 3) thoughts on the 2010-11 basketball season, (July 4) the impact of head injuries on high school football players, (July 5) the rise and fall of Quincy basketball and (July 6) the release of my fourth book, "Dusty, Deek, and Mr. Do-Right: High School Football In Illinois." Please archive past articles. And enjoy the summer)
Thoughts about the 2010-11 basketball season:
1. Anthony Davis, the fast-rising 6-10 senior from Chicago Perspectives, has indicated he will choose Syracuse, Kansas or Kentucky. He didn't blow off Illinois. Coach Bruce Weber and his staff became aware of Davis and offered a scholarship. But they were never a factor because they got involved too late. They never saw him play. In fact, only three schools saw him play in the early going. And two of them are out of the running.
2. Simeon always had a great relationship with Illinois and you can be assured that coach Rob Smith, like his mentor Bob Hambric, will be supportive in Illini efforts to recruit Jabari Parker. But Jabari's father, former NBA star Sonny Parker, is controlling his son's recruiting. At the moment, it is too early to predict where the centerpiece of the class of 2013 will enroll. Best guess? Kansas.
3. Despite Weber's change in recruiting philosophy, which was so effective in signing Jereme Richmond, Illinois remains a "no win" situation. If Weber doesn't aggressively pursue young talent in Illinois, he is criticized. But even if he does, some prospects will go elsewhere because they feel the cupboard if full. The best thing that could happen to Illinois and all Division I schools, according to Roy and Harv Schmidt of Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye, is if the NCAA passes legislation outlawing early scholarship offers until the fall of a player's junior year. It would take immense pressure off coaches who feel they have to offer players at such a young age and could go a long way toward helping to clean up some of the unsavory elements that surround college recruiting.
4. The class of 2011 in Illinois is oneof the best in recent memory. The class of 2012 is awful, a down year, no clearcut No. 1 player. The class of 2013 has been overhyped, at least from a standpoint of depth. How good are Parker and Whitney Young's Tommy Hamilton? Could De La Salle's Alex Foster be the best player in the class?
5. De La Salle star Mike Shaw's brother is in control of Mike's recruiting. Several influence peddlers are trying to get involved. It is a circus. DePaul is coming on strong. How much does Nike want to help new coach Oliver Purnell to re-establish DePaul's program? Michigan State will be a huge factor in Shaw's decision.
6. Dre Henley's decision to return to De La Salle after spending one year at a prep school in Carbondale raises many questions about his academics and his recruiting. Some scouts think Henley is overhyped and overrated, maybe not even a top 10 player in his class. Some college coaches doubt Henley will be an academic qualifier and others wonder if his prep school transcript will pass NCAA scrutiny.
7. Joseph Bertrand will leave Illinois by the end of the first semester.
8. Look for Purnell to sign one or two "breakthrough" recruits to get his DePaul program off the ground.