Jereme Richmond has finally arrived in Champaign-Urbana, Mike Tisdale is heading to Las Vegas to compete against the NBA’s best, Bruce Weber and his staff have spent seemingly every waking hour recruiting this month, and the NCAA has announced how it plans to work the expanded NCAA Tournament field.
These headlines, along with former Illinois three-point marksman Richard McBride getting named the head boys basketball coach at Cairo High School, top the Illinois basketball stories from the past week.
Illini Player News
● Illini freshman Jereme Richmond spoke with the media for the first “official” time as a member of the Fighting Illini at the Ubben Basketball Complex on Tuesday. Watch what Richmond had to say about winning a gold medal at the U18 FIBA Americas Championships and finally arriving at Illinois after verbally committing to Bruce Weber as a freshman in high school. Here are some different stories on Richmond’s media session, from the Chicago Tribune, News Gazette and Springfield’s The State Journal-Register.
● While it has been assumed that Richmond will immediately step into the starting lineup for senior Bill Cole at the small forward spot, the Herald-Review’s Mark Tupper notes how Cole isn’t going to relinquish his role without a fight. Cole and Richmond have been matched up against each other in some pick-up games at Ubben, with the senior reportedly shooting the ball well. Tupper also provided an Illini basketball summer recap in case you haven’t been following the team or reading Writing Illini daily.
● The News Gazette’s Paul Klee provided this update on sophomore Brandon Paul, whose development, in my opinion, may be the biggest key to whether the Illini are merely good or great next season.
● Senior center Mike Tisdale is heading to Las Vegas today to practice against the U.S. Select team. The weeklong experience, which ends on the 24th, figures to be a good experience for Tisdale, who will go against NBA big men like Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler, David Lee, the Lopez Twins, Amar’e Stoudemire and Kevin Love (Klee rounds up Tisdale’s competition). Speaking of Tisdale, the News Gazette’s Loren Tate has the Illinois center number-one on his list of top-shooting Illini big men, with Brian Cook, Deon Thomas, Ken Norman and James Augustine rounding out the top five.
● Former Illini guard Chester Frazier has been around the team all summer, and offered some thoughts on sophomore D.J. Richardson (whom Frazier described as the current Illini most similar to him as a player) and freshman center Meyers Leonard (who has surprised Frazier with his size and shooting ability). Listen to Frazier’s interview on WDWS radio.
Illini Coaching/Recruiting News
● The first part of a hectic July recruiting period came to an end on Thursday for Weber and his well-traveled staff. Klee shared Weber’s thoughts on July recruiting, which picks up again on July 22nd (Thursday) and ends on the 31st. Of interest, Weber said that he expects to add at least one player to the 2011 recruiting class that includes Tracy Abrams, Mycheal Henry and Nnanna Egwu. Illinois has two more scholarships available for 2011.
● Speaking of recruiting, Weber spent some time this week watching 2011 target Chasson Randle, who reportedly has cut his list of schools to Illinois, Purdue and Stanford.
● A couple of updates on heralded Chicago sophomores and class of 2013 targets Tommy Hamilton Jr. and Jabari Parker. Whitney Young’s Hamilton reportedly said that “Illinois is the only school I really like” at this point, while Simeon’s Parker has drawn the interest of Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar, who is allegedly really close with Parker’s famous father, Sonny. Illinois Prep Bulls-eye has more on the Parker recruitment.
Important NCAA Basketball News
● Early last week, the NCAA announced how it is going to deal with the expanded 68-team NCAA Tournament. Here’s what’s going to happen: the NCAA Tournament is going to include 4 play-in games with a twist: 2 of the play-in games will be among the 4 lowest-seeded teams, which will battle for 2 number-16 seeds, while the other 2 play-in games will feature the last 4 at-large teams (most likely to come from the power conferences), which will battle for #11 or #12 seeds. Taking the 2010 NCAA Tournament as an example, with the field expanded to 68, this would have meant that Illinois (generally regarded as the 66th team last year) would have made the tourney and been involved in a first-round play-in game for a #11 or #12 seed. Here’s a more in-depth analysis of the “First Four,” the term the NCAA is now using to describe the opening round during which 8 teams will battle for 4 spots.
● As mentioned before on Writing Illini, the NCAA has been considering legislation that would restrict college coaches from offering scholarships to basketball recruits until July 1st of the summer before their senior season in high school. Essentially, this means no early scholarship offers, which have been a big reason for the Illini’s recent recruiting turnaround. Weber was mentioned in several stories on the NCAA legislation, which Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman says is a joke that cannot be enforced.
Former Illini Basketball News
● Congratulations to Richard McBride, who was named the head boys basketball coach at Cairo High School. Here is the The State Journal-Register story.
● Luther Head’s apparent free-agent deal with the New Orleans Hornets was controversially rescinded after Head allegedly failed his physical, at least according to the Hornets. Head’s agent Mark Bartelstein has not been buying that story, saying that New Orleans rescinded on the deal after firing General Manager Jeff Bower, who negotiated the Head signing. The voice of honesty when it comes to the NBA, Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowki described the pulled offer as a “slimy trick” by the Hornets, which makes sense given the rocky history of team owner George Shinn. Anyways, Head has drawn interest from the Milwaukee Bucks, which would be a great landing spot for the veteran guard. Here’s hoping Head lands with an organization where he’s wanted.
● Former Illini guard Trent Meacham plans to play in Germany next season while Dominique Keller has been working out for the EuroLeague, according to Klee’s weekly basketball chat.
● Dee Brown, James Augustine and Shaun Pruitt have been playing in the NBA’s Vegas Summer League with the Toronto Raptors, Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns, recently. Here’s my recap of their performances through Thursday (be sure to check in tomorrow, when I will have an Illini update on the Vegas league, which ends tonight).
● Also happening tomorrow, Kendall Gill will host a golf benefit on the U of I Orange Course in Savoy. Check out the Facebook page for the Kendall Gill Golf Benefit.
Have a good rest of the weekend.
Until tomorrow and the final Illini Tale of the Tape, Dayton at Illinois
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