Simeon Career Academy's Kendrick Nunn, the consensus No. 2 2013 prospect in Illinois behind teammate and Gatorade National Player of the Year Jabari Parker, has seen his recruitment pick up serious steam since the NCAA season concluded.
The smooth lefty used his impressive range and ability to finish at the basket to help the Wolverines to their third straight Class 4A Illinois state championship, a 50-48 victory over Proviso East.
And while some of the top colleges in the country have shown interest in the 6-foot-2 shooting guard, his decision could come down to the two most interested schools closest to him: Illinois and Marquette.
Rivals.com ranks Nunn as the No. 22 prospect in the 2013 class, and the seventh best shooting guard. He originally commited to Billy Kennedy and Texas A&M following his sophomore year at Simeon, when the Wolverines went 30-2 and won their second straight Illinois state championship. However, Nunn would decommit from the Aggies just over a month later, saying over Twitter that he had rushed his decision.
Thanks to his successful junior season at Simeon and his impressive spring with Meanstreets AAU, Nunn now holds scholarship offers not only from Illinois andMarquette, but alsoUCLA, Oklahoma State, North Carolina State, Missouri and a host of others. He also has a scholarship offer from DePaul, where he is visiting today.According to Josh Paunil of National Recruiting Spotlight, who spoke with Nunn earlier this week, Kansas, Syracuse and North Carolina have also shown interest in the combination guard.
Former coach Bruce Weber and the Illini had offered Nunn prior to his Texas A&M commitment, and John Groce's hiring this March will only help Illinois further.
Groce, who left Ohio University after four years, has strong Chicago connections and could help lure Nunn, who visited just over a week after Groce was hired, to Champaign.
As is the case with many of the top recruits in the country, immediate playing time will be a factor with Nunn. And the Illini should have plenty of it in 2013.
Following point guard Jalen James' decommitment on June 1, the Illini now have four open scholarships for the 2013 class. Rayvonte Rice, who transferred from Creighton this off-season and will be eligible to play in 2013-'14, would be Nunn's only real competition to start at shooting guard.
Even still, Nunn would most likely be the Illini's top recruit of the class and would see playing time immediately following senior Brandon Paul's departure.
Four hours north, Buzz Williams and Marquette, who offered Nunn in the fall of 2011, were presumed to be out of the running after 2013 point guard Duane Wilson committed in late March.
But things changed in late May, when then-Illinois assistant coach Isaac Chew, who had been on the job just over a month, resigned from Groce's staff and accepted the same position at Marquette under Williams. Like Groce, Chew is known for his connections throughout the midwest, including Chicago.
Suddenly Chew, who presumably had been recruiting Nunn to Illinois, is now doing the same for Marquette.Nunn visited Marquette on Monday, andit appears the Golden Eagles are back on the shooting guard's radar thanks to Chew.
One factor that could sway Nunn's decision is Steve Taylor. Simeon's 6-foot-8 forward signed with Marquette last November and will begin his college career this fall. Williams recent uptick on recruiting Chicago, combined with the addition of Chew to the coaching staff could help sway Nunn.
Unlike Illinois, Marquette has a bit of a logjam with its 2013 class. Junior college freshman Jameel McKay, who will be eligible for the 2013-'14 season, gave a verbal commitment to Williams on June 2. Along with Wilson and Deonte Burton, Marquette now has filled all three open scholarships for the 2013 class.
A transfer possibility is always an option, or redshirt senior Chris Otule, who has missed two years with season-ending injuries, may not be granted a sixth year by the NCAA. While that will not be known until next spring, it's likely that Williams will find a way to make Nunn fit if he were to decide to attend Marquette.Nunn also told Paunil he is planning to visit the UCLA campus sometime over the summer, before he narrows his list of schools down to three or five. He also plans to make his decision in the fall before his senior season at Simeon.
Ben Howland's group went a disappointing 19-14 last season, but he still managed to pull in the country's most impressive recruiting class. All four 2012 signees are consensus top-50 players in the country, led by small forward Shabazz Muhmammad, listed by many recruiting outlets as the top player in the class.
Surprisingly, UCLA's loaded 2012 recruiting class does not feature a shooting guard. While Nunn would have to play his college career farther from home, the appeal of playing for a blueblood program like UCLA, combined with an ultra-talented roster, could prove too much for Illinois and Marquette.
Missouri and Memphis, two schools who play an up-tempo style offense Nunn is looking for, are still in play as well, and the Syracuses, Kentuckys and Kansases of the recruiting world still could come calling with scholarship offers.
But if Nunn can not resist the appeal of playing close to home, it could put Groce and Illinois in a hot recruiting battle with Williams and Groce's former assistant in Chew.