Illinois basketball is still looking for their first domino to fall for the class of 2023.
I would argue that Brad Underwood has been the best recruiter for the Illini since Bill Self made a brief three-year stop here in the early 2000s. He brought in the Illinois national title team that came oh so close to winning it all.
Underwood seems to be on a similar path as far as the ability to recruit talent. The class of 2018 brought Ayo Dosunmu, 2019 brought Kofi Cockburn, 2020 brought Coleman Hawkins, and 2021 brought RJ Melendez and Luke Goode. Illinois also has five freshmen – four of which are four-stars – coming in from the class of 2022.
This great run of recruiting is why I am not worrying about the class of 2023. Illinois has yet to land a single player for 2023. But that could all be changing soon. On Tuesday, Trent Pierce decided to cut his list down to six teams. The six programs making his final list included Oklahoma State, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri, and Illinois.
Adding Pierce would be big for the Orange and Blue. He is a 6-foot-8, 180-pound power forward from Compass Prep in Chandler, Arizona. He is rated as a four-star recruit and ranked as the No. 81 player in the class of 2023. Pierce is also the No. 17 power forward in the nation and the No. 7 player coming out of Arizona.
Illinois basketball is going to have a tough time landing Trent Pierce for the class of 2023.
It is great for the Illini to make Pierce’s top six. This is a step they needed to make to have any chance at landing the talented power forward. But we are pretty deep into Pierce’s recruitment, so it might be tough to land him.
As of right now, Pierce has taken four of his five official visits. He visited Minnesota on February 12, Oklahoma State on May 13, Oklahoma on June 15, and Missouri on June 29. That leaves one visit left, and it is likely between Florida and Illinois.
Getting that final official visit will pretty much be the determining factor on whether or not Illinois is alive in the recruitment of Pierce. If we can get that final official visit and end up landing Pierce, the Illini would be getting a really good player.
I know Pierce is listed as a power forward, but he is honestly more of a wing who can play just about anywhere on the court.
The biggest thing that stands out to me about Pierce’s game is the fact he is an ace shooter. Being able to make shots at that high of a clip at 6-foot-8 makes him an extremely dangerous player at any level. I also love his ability to drive to the basket and finish.
When I look at Pierce and see what he can do on the basketball court, the comparison that keeps coming to mind is Paul George. Pierce has that super athletic ability mixed in with a killer offensive game. This kid could be a really special player when used right.
I love that Illinois is in Pierce’s top six. We need to add to the class of 2023. Pierce would be a great starting point to what would be a foundation-building class for the Illini.