NCAA Talk

Why can't Illinois recruit in-state?

700902.png

Why can't Illinois recruit in-state?

Times have changed, of course, since the 1940s and 1950s when Illinois coach Harry Combes didn't have to leave his home to lure the state's best basketball players to Champaign. And he produced three third-place finishers in four years in the NCAA tournament.

Those, indeed, were the good old days for Illini basketball.

Since then, Illinois has produced only two Final Four teams -- in 1989, when the Illini lost to eventual NCAA champion Michigan in the semifinals, and 2005, when they lost to North Carolina in the championship game.

With the firing of coach Bruce Weber in the wake of a season that went from 15-3 to 17-15 and revealed a dysfunctional and leaderless team, first-year athletic director Mike Thomas is challenged to hire a new coach who will rebuild a program that has been more disappointing than promising over the last 50 years.

Critics argue if Illinois is one of the most productive states for developing elite high school players, why can't the state university attract more of them? Why are so many opting to go elsewhere?

Why couldn't Illinois recruit George Wilson, Cazzie Russell, Dan Issel, Dave Robisch, Ronnie Lester, Quinn Buckner, Mark Aguirre, Isiah Thomas, Glenn "Doc" Rivers, Russell Cross, Julian Wright, Jon Scheyer, Derrick Rose, Evan Turner, Sherron Collins, Ryan Boatright, Wayne Blackshear and Anthony Davis?

And are they even in the mix for the state's current star, Simeon's Jabari Parker, the nation's top-rated prospect?

Weber's biggest recruiting coup, Jereme Richmond, turned out to be a disaster, a walking time bomb, a head case who was a cancer that negatively affected the entire program. The fact that Weber never admitted his mistake while others saw it so clearly only confirmed that he had lost control, that his Illini family had become dysfunctional.

Now the challenge is to rebuild and establish a foundation for an elite program that won't crack every other year or lack of a floor leader or team chemistry or a couple of 5-star difference-makers who remind Illini Nation of former stars such as Dave Downey and Deron Williams.

Whoever athletic director Mike Thomas hires to succeed Weber must put together a staff that can recruit the entire state, from St. Louis to Chicago, especially Chicago. The Illini owned the town when Tony Yates and Jimmy Collins were staking out the gyms and playgrounds in the city. But that no longer is the case.

"Going back over the 40 years of my career, Bruce Weber was the only Illinois coach who stayed in touch with me. Whether I had a player or not, he would stop by. He was the only one who did that," said St. Joseph's Gene Pingatore, the winningest coach in state history.

"He attempted to develop relationships with coaches in the event you had a player who could play at that level, then he could recruit him. In the past, my perception is if they don't get a player, they tend to burn bridges. You can't take it personal if a kid opts not to go to your school in a given year because you might have a kid coming up who might want to go to your school. You won't get everybody."

Pingatore never has been a favorite among Illinois coaches and fans, going back to when Isiah Thomas opted for Indiana. Since then, including Evan Turner's decision to attend Ohio State, they have perceived Pingatore as an anti-Illinois coach who encouraged his players to go elsewhere.

Not so, Pingatore insists. "I don't push kids to Indiana or Iowa but I make sure they are involved. Coaches I have relationships with are always involved with my kids. If I don't hear from a coach or I'm not involved with them, why should I push a kid to their school?" he said.

"From my point of view, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa are all good schools. Who do you send your kids to? To people, not schools, people you can trust, people that you now will take care of your kids, people that you have confidence with."

Demitri McCamey is the only St. Joseph graduate ever to choose Illinois. Why did Turner, his more celebrated teammate, go to Ohio State? Pingatore admits he has no clue. But he insists he didn't push him to Columbus.

"There is another issue today," Pingatore said. "At one time, I could tell what my kids were doing. Now I have no idea who is talking to my kids today, who is influencing them.

"But I do know that you can't lose Wayne Blackshear or Anthony Davis or the top players if you are coaching at the signature school in the state. Jerrance Howard (Weber's chief recruiter) isn't in the same league with (former Illini recruiters) Tony Yates and Jimmy Collins."

Former King coach Landon Cox, the winningest coach in the state in the late 1980s and early 1990s, sent his three best players to Illinois -- Efrem Winters, Marcus Liberty and Jamie Brandon. Liberty was rated as the No. 1 player in the nation at the time. Brandon enrolled in Illinois' summer bridge program but left to play with Shaquille O'Neal at LSU. He has always said that was the biggest mistake of his life.

"Before I sent Efrem Winters to Illinois, I didn't think they weren't treating kids from the city the same as others," Cox said. "I didn't want that to happen. I always had a thing against big schools plucking kids from the inner city and some kids didn't even had two pair of shoes or a suit to wear. They didn't give them the help they needed to stay in school.

"A lot of people disagreed with me. I thought they should have evened the playing field. It didn't happen. Other coaches saw what was happening. Lou Henson told me that Efrem would be OK. He had a good experience at Illinois. So did Reggie Woodward. I didn't want Reggie to go to Illinois because he would play behind Doug Altenberger. But he wanted to follow Efrem, his best friend, and he graduated."

Liberty left early for the NBA and today regrets that decision, just as Brandon regrets leaving Illinois' bridge program. But neither blames Illinois for their decisions.

"If they had stayed, it would have been a different story," Cox said. "They would have brought more great players to Illinois. They could have been the Isiah Thomas of Illinois, a couple of pied pipers, like Mark Aguirre was at DePaul.

"The best thing that happened at Illinois was Tony Yates and Jimmy Collins. They understood the problems of the city and brought Henson around to the schools. Today, I don't see any chemistry with the coaching staff and education department at Illinois.

"If you send a kid to Illinois who scores 24 on his ACT, he is going to make it at any school. But if he is barely making 17 or 18, he will struggle. They should be sensitive to that with a tutoring program. But they don't see to be on the same page."

Cox admits he doesn't know Jerrance Howard, Illinois' chief recruiter. "But I knew Yates and Collins. You would see them two or three times a week in the schools. Today, you don't have that personal thing with coaches in the city as you did with Yates and Collins," he said.

He argues that Illinois isn't as aggressive in the recruiting process in the city as it once was. "The coaching staff used to have more rapport with coaches in Chicago. We used to talk to Henson all the time. Yates and Collins made sure of that. Other coaches from the Big 10 and Big 12 are here all the time, taking our best talent out of Illinois," Cox said.

Roy Condotti, who coached at Westinghouse and Homewood-Flossmoor and saw H-F star Julian Wright go to Kansas, doesn't blame Weber or Illinois for its failure to land more elite players from the Chicago area.

"Illinois tried to recruit Wright. And I'm sure they tried to recruit others. But you can't recruit everyone," Condotti said. "Julian always had Kansas in the back of his mind. He went on the Internet. He followed teams, watched games. He liked Kansas' style of play. He was attracted by Kansas.
You couldn't sway him.

"Look who Illinois is recruiting against? They have a product to sell, too. You just have to work harder. This isn't 1978 anymore. It is a completely different era now. Kids want to play for the best programs.

"You have to recruit kids who like to play the style you like to coach. I don't think that is happening at Illinois. With the AAU and Internet, kids know other kids through Facebook and AAU and texting. They have more information than kids used to have. And some want to go to school together."

So how does Illinois become an elite program, one of the best in the nation that annually will attract McDonald's All-Americans like North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky and Duke always do?

"You've got to have a great recruiter. Tony Yates could have recruited any kid on earth," Condotti said. "You have to get one kid who will attract the rest of them, like Isiah or Aguirre or Quinn Buckner, players who come along once in a decade, the kind of player who will attract other elite players, charismatic kids that others will go to the gym to see."

NBC Sports Chicago announces 2017-18 college basketball schedule

nbc_sports_chicago_slide.jpg

NBC Sports Chicago announces 2017-18 college basketball schedule

Men’s and Women’s Game Schedule includes area contests featuring UIC, Illinois State, Loyola, Bradley, SIU, EIU, Valparaiso, Northern Iowa, Drake, DePaul, Northwestern, and more!

Local coverage begins with the UIC Flames hosting St. Joseph’s on Monday, November 13 at 7:00 PM CT featuring Jordan Bernfield & David Kaplan with the game call!

NBC Sports Chicago live stream available 24/7 on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive  or via the NBC Sports app

Chicago, IL (November 6, 2017) – NBC Sports Chicago, the multi-platform home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, is ready to bring college hoops fans another exciting season of action-packed NCAA basketball featuring a total of 65 men’s & women’s contests, featuring many of the area’s top teams and players.

NBC Sports Chicago viewers can look forward to the very best in local/regional basketball action featuring the Horizon League’s UIC Flames (eight games), along with Missouri Valley Conference action highlighted by Loyola (eight games), Northern Iowa (eight games), Bradley (seven games), Illinois State (five games), Southern Illinois (four games), Drake (four games), Valparaiso (three games), along with MVC #1-ranked pre-season favorite Missouri St. (ten games), plus – live coverage of the always-competitive MVC Tournament beginning March 1.  NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago live stream also available to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app.

NBC Sports Chicago’s early season men’s collegiate basketball schedule gets underway with the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Flames hosting St. Joseph’s on Monday, November 13 at 7:00 PM CT LIVE from the UIC Pavilion.  The game announcing tandem for Flames games on NBC Sports Chicago this season features Jordan Bernfield (play-by-play) and NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan (analyst).  NOTE: ESPN Radio 1000’s Jonathan Hood will be filling in for Kaplan as game analyst for the UIC match-ups against DePaul and Wright St.  In addition, Bernfield will also handle play-by-play duties for every Loyola game on NBC Sports Chicago’s schedule this season, which also features ESPN Radio 1000’s Jeff Dickerson handling color analysis.

Among the key regional match-ups on the schedule this season include UIC at Loyola (Dec. 2), DePaul at UIC (Dec. 9), UIC at Illinois St. (Dec. 19), SIU at Northern Iowa (Dec. 28), Bradley vs. Loyola (Jan. 13 & Jan. 31), Drake at Northern Iowa (Jan. 16), Missouri St. at SIU (Feb. 14), and Bradley at Valparaiso (Feb. 17) among many others. Note the attached schedule for a complete list of men’s games this season on NBC Sports Chicago and on NBC Sports Chicago+.

NBC Sports Chicago’s women’s basketball schedule includes six games featuring USA Today Coaches Poll pre-season #20-ranked/four-time defending Big East Conf. champion DePaul Blue Demons the first Blue Demons telecast taking place on Saturday, December 30 at 7:00 PM CT live from the brand new Wintrust Arena in downtown Chicago vs. St. John’s.  Additional DePaul match-ups on NBC Sports Chicago’s schedule include games against Marquette (Jan. 4), Xavier (Jan. 12), Creighton (Feb. 2), Providence (Feb. 4), and Georgetown (Feb. 16).  In addition, NBC Sports Chicago will also carry the Big Ten’s Northwestern Wildcats in action on Dec. 16 at Missouri St. (note the attached schedule for a complete listing of women’s games this season).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Numerous men’s and women’s games on NBC Sports Chicago’s college basketball schedule this season will air exclusively on NBC Sports Chicago+. NBC Sports Chicago+ (NBCSCH+) is available in high-definition on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 201 in the Chicago area/South Bend, IN & on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 285 in the Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Champaign markets, along with being made available in DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T, RCN, and WOW! homes among numerous other carriers and streaming services; viewers are urged to visit NBCSportsChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER page for complete channel location details.

In addition to game coverage, NBC Sports Chicago will once again provide college basketball fans with team college coaches show this season (air dates may vary during the season) – Tuesdays (beginning in early December): Inside Notre Dame Basketball with Mike Brey (5:30 PM)…Wednesdays (beginning in late December): The Foundation: Northwestern Basketball (5:30 PM)...and The Steve Prohm Show: Iowa State Basketball (Season Preview Special - Mon, Dec. 11 at 5:30 PM; weekly airings on Mondays at 5:30 PM begin in January).

2017-18 MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL on NBC SPORTS CHICAGO & NBC SPORTS CHICAGO+

  1. Mon, Nov 13    11:00 am   Jacksonville St. @ Richmond   LIVE
  2. Mon, Nov 13      7:00 pm    UIC:  St. Joseph’s @ UIC           LIVE
  3. Mon, Nov 13     7:00 pm     UNI:  Alcorn State @ Northern Iowa    LIVE   NBCSCH+
  4. Wed, Nov 29      6:00 pm    Vermont @ Richmond     LIVE   NBCSCH+
  5. Fri, Dec 1            7:00 pm      Bradley:  E. Illinois @ Bradley    LIVE   NBCSCH+
  6. Sat, Dec 2            3:00 pm     Loyola:  UIC @ Loyola             LIVE
  7. Sat, Dec 2            3:00 pm        IL ST:  Tulsa @ Illinois State   LIVE   NBCSCH+
  8. Sat, Dec 2            7:00 pm       Missouri St. @ S. Dakota State   LIVE   NBCSCH+
  9. Mon, Dec 4         7:00 pm        Missouri St. @ N Dakota St   LIVE
  10. Thu, Dec 7           7:00 pm       UNI:  UT-Arlington @ Northern Iowa      LIVE
  11. Sat, Dec 9             3:00 pm       UIC:  DePaul @ UIC              LIVE
  12. Sat, Dec 9       3:00 pm        IL ST:  Murray State @ Illinois State      LIVE   NBCSCH+ 
  13. Sat, Dec 9         5:00 pm     James Madison @ Richmond      LIVE     NBCSCH+
  14. Sun, Dec 10             3:00 pm       Missouri St @ Oral Roberts  LIVE      NBCSCH+
  15. Tue, Dec 19              7:00 pm      IL ST:  UIC @ Illinois State         LIVE
  16. Fri, Dec 22                8:00 pm       MVC:  Loyola @ Missouri State    LIVE
  17. Sat, Dec 23               1:00 pm       MVC:  Illinois State @ Evansville    LIVE               
  18. Thu, Dec 28              7:00 pm       MVC:  Valparaiso @ Indiana State   LIVE
  19. Thu, Dec 28    7:00 pm   MVC:  Southern Illinois @ Northern Iowa  LIVE   NBCSCH+
  20. Sat, Dec 30               3:00 pm        MVC:  Evansville @ Loyola     LIVE
  21. Sun, Dec 31             3:00 pm         MVC: Missouri St @ Valparaiso   LIVE  NBCSCH+
  22. Wed, Jan 3                7:00 pm         MVC:  Indiana St @ Loyola         LIVE   NBCSCH+
  23. Sat, Jan 6                  3:00 pm         MVC:  Southern Illinois @ Valparaiso     LIVE
  24. Wed, Jan 10     6:00 pm  MVC:  Northern Iowa @ Indiana State    LIVE   NBCSCH+
  25. Sat, Jan 13                3:00 pm         MVC:  Bradley @ Loyola         LIVE
  26. Sun, Jan 14              2:00 pm         MVC:  Indiana St @ Missouri St       LIVE                                       
  27. Mon, Jan 15             7:00 pm         UIC:  Oakland @ UIC    LIVE
  28. Tue, Jan 16               7:00 pm         MVC:  Drake @ Northern Iowa    LIVE
  29. Wed, Jan 17             6:00 pm         MVC:  Bradley @ Illinois State    LIVE
  30. Wed, Jan 17        7:00 pm    MVC:  Southern Illinois @ Loyola     LIVE   NBCSCH+
  31. Sat, Jan 20                3:00 pm           MVC:  Missouri St. @ Drake     LIVE
  32. Tue, Jan 23               7:00 pm           MVC:  Missouri St. @ Bradley   LIVE
  33. Sat, Jan 27                3:00 pm           UIC:  IUPUI @ UIC    LIVE
  34. Wed, Jan 31             7:00 pm            MVC:  Loyola @ Bradley       LIVE   NBCSCH+
  35. Sat, Feb 3           3:00 pm      MVC:  Indiana St @ Northern Iowa     LIVE   NBCSCH+
  36. Tue, Feb 6           6:00 pm      MVC:  Missouri St. @ Indiana St       LIVE   NBCSCH+
  37. Wed, Feb 7               7:00 pm            MVC:  Drake @ Loyola         LIVE
  38. Thu, Feb 8             7:00 pm        UIC:  Youngstown State @ UIC LIVE   NBCSCH+
  39. Sat, Feb 10                3:00 pm            MVC:  Northern Iowa @ Drake         LIVE
  40. Tue, Feb 13          7:00 pm      MVC:  Evansville @ Northern Iowa   LIVE   NBCSCH+
  41. Wed, Feb 14     7:00 pm     MVC:  Missouri St. @ Southern Illinois   LIVE   NBCSCH+
  42. Sat, Feb 17                8:00 pm            MVC:  Bradley @ Valparaiso         LIVE
  43. Wed, Feb 21     7:00 pm     MVC:  Bradley @ Missouri St.    LIVE   NBCSCH+               
  44. Sat, Feb 24           5:00 pm       St. Joseph’s @ Richmond          LIVE   NBCSCH+
  45. Sun, Feb 28               5:00 pm            UIC:  Wright State @ UIC          LIVE
  46. Thu, Mar 1                6:00 pm            MVC Tournament - Opening Round #1    LIVE
  47. Thu, Mar 1                8:30 pm            MVC Tournament - Opening Round #2     LIVE
  48. Fri, Mar 2                  12:00 pm         MVC Tournament – Quarterfinal #1        LIVE
  49. Fri, Mar 2                  2:30 pm            MVC Tournament – Quarterfinal #2          LIVE
  50. Fri, Mar 2                  6:00 pm            MVC Tournament – Quarterfinal #3         LIVE
  51. Fri, Mar 2                  8:30 pm            MVC Tournament – Quarterfinal #4      LIVE
     

2017-18 WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL on NBC SPORTS CHICAGO & NBC SPORTS CHICAGO+

1. Tue, Nov 14               7:00 pm            Iowa State @ Northern Iowa         LIVE
2. Sun, Nov 19            2:00 pm       Missouri @ Missouri State    LIVE  NBCSCH+
3. Wed, Nov 29             7:00 pm            Missouri St. @ Wichita St          TBA
4. Sat, Dec 16                2:00 pm            Northwestern @ Missouri St    LIVE         NBCSCH+
5. Sat, Dec 30                7:00 pm            St. Johns @ DePaul                    LIVE
6. Thu, Jan 4                   7:00 pm            DePaul @ Marquette              LIVE
7. Fri, Jan 12                   5:00 pm            Xavier @ DePaul                    LIVE         NBCSCH+
8. Fri, Jan 12                   7:00 PM           Missouri St @ Illinois State     LIVE         NBCSCH+
9. Mon, Jan 15           1:00 pm      UIC:  Milwaukee @ UIC     LIVE    NBCSCH+ 
10. Fri, Feb 2                  7:00 pm            Creighton @ DePaul                LIVE
11. Sun, Feb 4                2:00 pm            Providence @ DePaul            LIVE
12. Fri, Feb 16                7:00 pm            Georgetown @ DePaul       LIVE         NBCSCH+
13. Sun, Feb 18              3:00 pm            Missouri St @ Valparaiso    LIVE
14. Thu, Mar 1               7:00 pm            Evansville @ Missouri St     LIVE         NBCSCH+  

(Schedules as of 11/6/17)  -- ALL TIMES CENTRAL TIME
SCHEDULES SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Say it ain't so: DePaul commit Tyger Campbell reopens recruitment

tygercampbellnodepaul.jpg
AP

Say it ain't so: DePaul commit Tyger Campbell reopens recruitment

It looks like it was too good to be true.

Tyger Campbell shocked the recruiting world when he committed to DePaul on May 8.

Less than four months later, Campbell has reopened his recruitment.

The Rivals.com four-star point guard out of La Lumiere High School in Indiana, who is the No. 66 prospect in the 2018 Class, took to Twitter Friday night to explain his decision.

One of Campbell's original draws to the Blue Demons was DePaul hiring Shane Heirman as an assistant coach. Heirman coached Campbell for two seasons at La Lumiere.

"I like DePaul and honestly my coach (Shane Heirman) just went there and we have a great connection and he's always had my back," Campbell told Scout.com when he committed to the Blue Demons. "I like [DePaul] coach Dave Leitao, too. I like his program and he's an intelligent guy."

Campbell currently has offers from a handful of D1 schools, including Illinois, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Purdue, SMU, Memphis and Tennessee.