Shaw-shank Redemption: Mike Shaw Rewards Illini Basketball for Patience

After a long recruitment, De La Salle forward Mike Shaw committed to the Illinois Fighting Illini earlier this afternoon.

Rumored since Monday to be heading to Champaign-Urbana to play his college basketball, Chicago De La Salle senior forward Michael Shaw officially announced this afternoon that he will attend the University of Illinois next season.

Citing the loyalty of a program that began recruiting him when he was in eighth grade, Shaw chose Illinois over DePaul, Marquette and West Virginia, with all schools apparently “neck and neck” as of a week ago. Shaw had his official visit to the UI last weekend and also attended the Ohio State-Illinois football game earlier this month.

Offsetting the loss of Chasson Randle to Stanford yesterday, Shaw is actually a better positional fit for the Illini, which will lose Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis after the 2010-2011 season and could use some more interior depth.

While Illinois would have loved to get both Shaw and Randle, who seems like a flat-out gamer, that scenario always seemed too good to be true. With that said, Illinois fans should be ecstatic that the Illini coaching staff landed a big fish in Shaw after a lengthy, lengthy recruitment.

Prior to Shaw’s commitment today and Randle’s decision yesterday, Illinois’ 2011 class of Orr’s Mycheal Henry, Mount Carmel’s Tracy Abrams and St. Ignatius’ Nnanna Egwu was already considered top-10 nationally by some recruiting analysts.

With Shaw, it will definitely be a top-10 class. And with one scholarship remaining, the Illini may not be done with Lee (Alabama) prep guard Devin Langford scheduled to make his official visit to the campus from Friday to Sunday.

Like current Illinois freshman Jereme Richmond, Shaw has seemingly been talked about forever on the Illini recruiting scene.

Unlike Richmond (who committed to Illinois after his first high school game), Shaw did not commit to the Illini until very late in the process, making this recruitment about as old-fashioned as it gets given the current landscape of high-stakes prep recruiting.

For the Illini, late commitments from such highly-touted Chicago players have been rare during the Bruce Weber era.

Considering that Shaw was considered as an incoming high school freshman to be the jewel of a Chicago class of 2011 class that some were calling the best bunch of prospects in the city since the late seventies, it seemed that the De La Salle star would have not ended up at Illinois the longer the process went on.

However, Shaw and the class of 2011 did not live up to the initial hype, although both have been very solid on the prep scene.

With that said, Shaw is a really important verbal commitment for head coach Bruce Weber and his staff, which kept after the forward and essentially made him their top priority at the position. It’s important to note that Illinois had backup options if Randle went somewhere else; the Illini did not in the case of Shaw.

At the end of the day, Illinois took a big gamble on waiting for Shaw, and the coaching staff’s long-term persistence proved to be the ultimate payoff .

Being perfectly honest, I never thought that Shaw would wind up at Illinois until the rumors started permeating online since Monday of this week. A couple of years ago, Shaw seemed destined for a program like Louisville. As of late, DePaul seemed like a good fit for Shaw, who would have been the program’s marquee recruit.

At Illinois, Shaw is really going to have to earn his playing time, especially early on in his career, and will need to bring his game inside as opposed to the outside.

With all this in mind, I am glad to have been wrong on Shaw and give all the credit to Weber, Jerrance Howard and the other coaches for never wavering on this kid.

While I could see Shaw grow frustrated if the minutes are not there as a freshman (apparently other schools are not sold on his commitment to Illinois and still recruiting him), he is just too good of a talent and should be a solid role player at worst in the Big Ten.

Congratulations to Shaw for taking his time on this important decision and the Illini for remaining patient all along.

Today was a great day to be an Illini fan, and it gets better tomorrow with one of the most anticipated Illinois teams in recent memory tipping off against Lewis during the exhibition opener.

Writing Illini will cover tomorrow night’s game via live blogging.

Unfortunately, I will not get up the weekly football Cram Session until tomorrow.

Until then, sleep well.

Topics: Assembly Hall, Bill Cole, Brandon Paul, Bruce Weber, Chasson Randle, Crandall Head, D.J. Richardson, Demetri McCamey, Devin Langford, Illini Basketball, Illinois Basketball, Jereme Richmond, Jerrance Howard, Joseph Bertrand, Mike Davis, Mike Shaw, Mike Tisdale, Mycheal Henry, Nnanna Egwu, Tracey Abrams, Tyler Griffey, University Of Illinois

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