1. Dwindling options at No. 5
I realize that Illinois isn’t out of some of the other big man recruitments. They are still a “warm” with Charles Bediako, but Illinois hasn’t been mentioned with his recruitment since February. That makes me hesitant about the possibilities of actually landing him.
Beyond Bediako, there aren’t a lot of other big men the Illini are pursuing. The next best option according to the rankings is Mac Etienne. He is a 6-foot-10, 220-pound center from Suffield Academy and resides in Suffield, Connecticut. He is rated as a four-star recruit who is the No. 57 player in the class of 2021 and the No. 11 center in the nation.
At one time, Illinois was in the running for a multitude of big men include Etienne. But as time went on, the field narrowed leaving only a few left for the Illini to snag. We have been there for Etienne since his recruitment blew up, and we continue being a presence in his recruitment today.
I think it would hurt the Illini if we couldn’t land Etienne as well. I am looking at the options for a backup plan and, honestly, there is nothing in sight. If we weren’t able to land him, I think the coaching staff would have to look toward the graduate transfer market for someone who could play the No. 5 spot. That is a scary thing to think about. That is why Etienne is such a priority in my eyes.