With the official start of the season arriving on October 15th with Illini Madness, the Illinois basketball team has been participating in 2 hours of practice and 6 hours of conditioning each week since September 15th, as allowed by NCAA rules
This week’s basketball wrap details how the Illinois players performed during their timed miles, examines the early progress of freshmen Crandall Head and Meyers Leonard, updates the recruitments of Chasson Randle and Mike Shaw, and provides much more information on the Fighting Illini basketball program.
CURRENT ILLINI BASKETBALL PLAYER NEWS
#1 D.J. Richardson, Sophomore Guard
Last Sunday, Richardson finished first in the team’s timed mile, registering an impressive time of 5:05, a school record in the Bruce Weber era.
→ D.J. RICHARDSON EXCITED ABOUT COMING SEASON (SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED)
#4 Crandall Head, Freshman Guard/Forward
According to a couple members of the Illinois coaching staff, heralded freshman Crandall Head has been giving the best effort of all Illini perimeter players during workout, a great sign for Luther younger’s brother but hopefully not an indictment of the other wing players on the team.
#12 Meyers Leonard, Freshman Center
After dropping a barbell on his finger that would require nine stitches, promising freshman center Meyers Leonard returned to contact drills this past Wednesday.
#22 Jereme Richmond, Freshman Forward
The News Gazette’s Paul Klee has been very impressed with freshman Jereme Richmond throughout the summer and early fall workouts, saying that Richmond should start and adding in last Wednesday’s weekly basketball chat that Illini head coach Bruce Weber should name the Waukegan High School product a team captain.
#42 Tyler Griffey, Sophomore Forward
Hoop Vision has Illini sophomore forward Tyler Griffey listed third on its list of potential breakout players in the Big Ten during the 2010-2011 season, behind Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor and Rob Wilson. As detailed above, the Illini also ran their timed miles last Sunday, with Griffey finishing second (5:19) to fellow sophomore Richardson (5:05). That’s not bad for a big man but hardly surprising for Griffey, who is becoming one of the best athletes on the Illinois team.
#54 Mike Tisdale, Senior Center
Rivals.com listed Tisdale at #44 in its Preseason Top 50 players of 2010-2011, with the rankings continuing to be released in the coming weeks. We’ll see where Illini senior guard Demetri McCamey stacks up according to Rivals. Especially interesting, Tisdale was ranked ahead of Michigan State’s Draymond Green (#45) and Penn State’s Talor Battle (#47). I’m not so sure about that.
ILLINI BASKETBALL COACHING NEWS
Head Coach Bruce Weber
Along with BYU head coach David Rose and George Mason’s Jim Larranaga, Weber will head to Washington, D.C. this coming week to speak with Congress about the need for more cancer research.
In a conversation with Klee, Weber indicated that the Illini would be interesting in looking at a possible home-and-home series against St. John’s, which is now coached by former UCLA head coach and ESPN commentator Steve Lavin. Weber and Lavin were assistants together at Purdue and remain good friends. Weber indicated that the possible St. John’s-Illinois series could take place at Madison Square Garden one year and then the United Center the following season.
ILLINOIS BASKETBALL TEAM NEWS
With the football team enjoying a bye week, the Herald Review’s Mark Tupper started to hype the much-talked-about basketball season, answering some important questions for fans.
ILLINOIS BASKETBALL RECRUITING NEWS
John Supinie wrote an interesting article on the recruitments of Randle and Shaw, both of whom are pondering Illini scholarship offers. Randle, who visited Purdue this weekend, was quoted in the story as saying that “I don’t want to make a decision and end up transferring.” In the case of Randle and Shaw, it looks like Illinois’ depth could be a major hang-up in terms of choosing the Illini, but we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m not sure what Randle will do (Stanford scares me a bit) but am pretty confident that Shaw will choose DePaul or West Virginia instead of Illinois.
As for the Class of 2011, here are some updated rankings on Illinois verbal commitments Mycheal Henry (#56) and Tracy Abrams (#60). Nnanna Egwu is not included in the top 100 of this list. As for possible 2011 recruits, Shaw is listed at #50 and Randle at #64.
Whatever happens with Shaw, Randle and Iowa’s Josh Oglesby, Illinois is still looking ahead, continuing to offer early scholarship offers to promising prep players before the big-time programs really come calling. Just this week, Illinois offered scholarships to talented Whitney Young freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Paul White, both of whom will graduate high school in 2014.
As for the Class of 2013, Illinois is really interested in Whitney Young sophomore Tommie Hamilton Jr. and Simeon sophomore Jabari Parker, with the former seeming more of a realistic shot than the latter.
→ JABARI PARKER EXPLODES ON AAU CIRCUIT (SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED)
As for the Class of 2012, Illinois has spent a lot of time working hard in the state of Indiana, which reportedly is loaded with big-time talent. The Illini have offered scholarships to several Indiana high school players, including DeJuan Marrero of Bowman Academy.
Collin Hartman is another Indiana prep player who is starting to generate more buzz, though I had never heard of him until this week.
BIG TEN/COLLEGE BASKETBALL NEWS
Jason King of Yahoo! Sports has the Big Ten as the best basketball conference in America this upcoming season, with Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Illinois and Wisconsin looking like NCAA Tournament squads and Minnesota and Northwestern bubble teams.
In its Big Ten Season Preview, Slam has Illinois finishing second, behind Purdue but ahead of Michigan State and Ohio State.
The News Gazette’s Loren Tate continues to provide a history lesson on Bruce Pearl while some national college basketball writers weigh in on the subject.
I hope to finish up the Illinois Basketball Summer School series on Brandon Paul sometime this week and then wrap up Tyler Griffey before Illini Madness.
Topics: Assembly Hall, Brandon Paul, Bruce Pearl, Bruce Weber, Chasson Randle, Collin Hartman, Crandall Head, D.J. Richardson, David Rose, DeJuan Marrero, Demetri McCamey, Draymond Green, Illini Basketball, Illinois Basketball, Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Jereme Richmond, Jerrance Howard, Jim Larranaga, Joseph Bertrand, Josh Oglesby, Lou Carnesecca, Meyers Leonard, Mike Davis, Mike Shaw, Mike Tisdale, Mychael Henry, Nnanna Egwu, Paul White, Steve Lavin, Tommie Hamilton Jr., Tracy Abrams, Tyler Griffey, U-of-I Basketball, University Of Illinois