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Sunday Morning Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball Headlines for July 18-24

With the dog days of summer here, it was a bit of a quiet week on the Illinois basketball front.

Here are the week’s major headlines, including Mike Tisdale playing against Team USA in Vegas, Illinois’ board of trustees approving Jerrance Howard’s contract extension, and the Illini hearing some good recruiting news from Chasson Randle and some expected news from Jarrod Uthoff.

Illini Player/Team News

● On Friday, Tisdale concluded practicing against Team USA in Las Vegas, with the Illini big man providing updates here. The News Gazette’s Paul Klee also wrote a piece on the differences between the games of Tisdale and incoming freshman center Meyers Leonard.

● Klee also provided some updates on freshman Jereme Richmond (and how Bruce Weber may use him at times as a point forward this year) and Crandall Head’s recovery from a knee injury.

● A date for the 2010/2011 season’s Southern Illinois-Illinois game at the Assembly Hall has been set: November 14th.

Illini Coaching News

● While I haven’t seen confirmation of this, the Illinois board of trustees was expected to approve assistant coach Jerrance Howard’s contract extension on Thursday. Howard’s new and improved contract includes a base salary of $180,000 through April 2011 and then bumps up $10,000 each year through the 2013-2014 season, when he’ll be making $210,000. Howard also received a $50,000 signing bonus and would receive a completion bonus of $100,000 at the end of the contract “as incentive to remain at Illinois and forego other career opportunities.’’ Kentucky has come after Howard hard following the last two seasons.

● With UIC head basketball coach Jimmy Collins announcing his retirement on Tuesday, Howard and Illinois assistant Jay Price have been listed as candidates for the position. While Howard’s new contract would seem to exclude him from the position, I’m not so sure, thinking that the “incentive” language in his contract is more about Howard not leaving Illinois to become an assistant somewhere like Kentucky, which would be a huge recruiting and public relations blow for the Illinois basketball program.  I find it hard to believe that Illinois would block Howard if he wanted to become the head coach at UIC, assuming he was offered the job. The idea that the UIC position may be beneath Howard, who has never coached before, is a bit perplexing as well. While UIC is a rebuilding job, it offers some advantages (location, recruiting opportunities, a grace period to turn things around, a sister school of the UI) that would seem appealing to not only Howard but Price. We’ll just see where the UIC coaching search goes, with Wisconsin’s Howard Moore also seeming like an ideal candidate. I thought this blog post did a nice job of detailing some local candidates for the UIC job, with the exception of excluding Price.

Illini Recruiting News

● Forward Jarrod Uthoff of Cedar Rapids, Iowa announced on Monday that he will attend the University of Wisconsin. Uthoff had scholarship offers from the Illini and 12 other schools, and had trimmed his final list to Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Wisconsin, Butler and Illinois, which seemed like a bit of a long shot in my opinion. While many people were expecting Uthoff to pick Iowa or Iowa State, his decision to go to Wisconsin was a bit surprising but certainly makes sense. As for new Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery, this cannot be the recruiting start that he was hoping for.

● Josh Oglesby, another Iowa class of 2011 prep star who has a scholarship offer from Illinois, is likely to make his decision in the fall. Oglesby was recently offered by the Illini after the UI team camp in June. He has 11 scholarship offers, though Iowa has not offered him.

● Rock Island guard Chasson Randle trimmed his final list of schools to Illinois, Purdue and Stanford early last week. On the Illini radar much longer than Oglesby, Randle would be a huge get for Illinois for the Class of 2011. Ultimately, I think this one comes down to the Illini and Boilermakers.

● Illinois is allegedly at the top of the list of California forward/center Kevin Johnson of William Howard Taft High School in Woodlands, CA, at least according to this report. Johnson, who is related to UI women’s basketball coach Jolette Law, would be a nice option if De La Salle’s Mike Shaw chooses Michigan State over the Illini.

Former Illini Player News

● Got to love former Flyin’ Illini guard Kendall Gill and his honesty. At his recent golf outing in Savoy, Gill offered his comments on everyone from Jereme Richmond and Mike Davis to the sad state of affairs (my words, not his) that is the NBA, including Lebron’s decision and Luther Head’s contract dispute. It would be interesting to hear what Gill had to say about a recent News Gazette poll in which Kenny Battle was voted by fans as their all-time favorite Flyin’ Illini.

● As detailed in last week’s Sunday Morning, former Illini three-point marksman Rich McBride was named the head basketball coach at Cairo High School in Cairo, Illinois. Here’s another post on McBride taking this position.

● Apologies to former Illini Jamar Smith, whom I accidentally excluded from my Illini NBA summer league wrap up. I totally forgot that Smith was on the Minnesota Timberwolves summer league team in Vegas, though the player page had Smith listed from Maryland. A visit to the Timberwolves Web site confirmed that it was actually the Jamar Smith from Illinois. Anyways, here’s what Smith did. In 5 games, he averaged 1.8 points, 0.2 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.2 steals and 1 turnover in just 6.8 minutes per game.


Until tomorrow and hopefully the first part on Demetri McCamey in the Illini Basketball Summer School series.

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Tags: Assembly Hall Bill Cole Brandon Paul Bruce Weber Chasson Randle Crandall Head D.J. Richardson Demetri McCamey Flyin' Illini Fran McCaffery Howard Moore Illini Basketball Illinois Basketball Jarrod Uthoff Jay Price Jereme Richmond Jerrance Howard Jimmy Collins Joseph Bertrand Josh Oglesby Kendall Gill Kenny Battle Kevin Johnson Luther Head Meyers Leonard Mike Davis Mike Tisdale Purdue Basketball Richard McBride Tyler Griffey U-of-I Basketball University Of Illinois

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