UIC and new head coach Steve McClain are working hard to bring in talent to a program that is in desperate need of a talent infusion.
The Flames are hoping that six new freshman can help with the rebuild, but they've also started to add some key pieces in the Class of 2016.
McClain, a former assistant at Indiana, made some smart moves in regards to his staff as he hired former Bradley assistant Ron "Chin" Coleman and former Wright State assistant Brendan Mullins to his staff while assistant Deon Thomas and director of operations Jeremy Buttell were retained.
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Coleman is a former coach at Whitney Young and the Mac Irvin Fire with strong ties to the city while Mullins is the son of Illinois Wolves director Mike Mullins. Both the Mac Irvin Fire and Illinois Wolves annually produce a lot of Division I players, so having ties to both programs certainly doesn't hurt in local recruiting.
So far in the Class of 2016, the Flames own commitments from Belleville Althoff guard Tarkus Ferguson and wing Jordan Blount -- a native of Ireland.
The 6-foot-4 Ferguson helped lead Belleville Althoff to a Class 3A runner-up finish in Illinois last season while the 6-foot-7 Blount was the leading scorer in the FIBA European Championships this summer.
Both players should give the Flames a boost on the perimeter and now the coaching staff is looking for another player or two to fill out the class. It's likely UIC looks into big men and another potential ball handler to finish out this class and they've looked at some local players like former Geneva forward K.J. Santos and St. Joseph big man Nick Rakocevic.
Much like the rest of the college programs in Illinois, the deep Class of 2017 is a key for UIC as the in-state crop of talent features a lot of potential mid-major targets.
UIC has been active recruiting local players like Curie's Elijah Joiner, West Chicago's Tai Bibbs, Simeon's Evan Gilyard, Kenwood's Manny Patterson, Bolingbrook's Nana Akenten, Marian Catholic's T.J. Smith, Waukegan's Carson Newsome, Larkin's Christian Negron, Fenwick's Jamal Nixon, Joliet West's Trevian Bell and the Downers South duo of T.J. Clifford and Denis Albegovic.
While the Flames have been aggressive pursing local juniors, UIC will likely take two-to-three players in the Class of 2017 -- depending on transfers and how the roster looks at that time.
With McClain going to an uptempo system that is reminiscent of what he coached at Indiana, UIC should be attractive to local recruits who want to play a faster pace. The Flames have already recruited some nice local pieces for this season, including former St. Rita guard Dominique Matthews and former Bolingbrook center Julian Torres, so the foundation is in place for a brighter future.