The start of the Brad Underwood era saw the most heartbreaking in-state recruiting misses. But I have to give him a slight pass on these first couple of years. Illinois wasn’t winning before Underwood and the struggles continued into the first two years of the new regime. It is hard to land top players when you aren’t winning games.
Underwood did start to bring in the in-state talent, though. As mentioned in previous slides, the Illini have secured the top player from the state of Illinois in two of the five recruiting classes Underwood has been at the helm. In one of the classes, Illinois secured the No. 2 in-state recruit.
The classes Illinois didn’t snag a top in-state player, there wasn’t a lot of talent in those respective recruiting classes. The Illini didn’t land an in-state top 100 recruit for the class of 2019, 2021, and 2023. In these classes, there were only five top 100 recruits and three of those recruits were from the 2021 class, which has only produced Max Christie as a true top player.
Laying out all of the recruiting evidence from the past five years, I think it is pretty clear that Underwood has done a great job getting Illinois basketball back in the game when it comes to in-state recruiting.
One of the biggest points for me in the in-state recruiting evaluation of Underwood is the fact we haven’t had a recruiting gut punch. There hasn’t been big swings and misses by the current coaching regime. That is a positive mark for Underwood.
Also, to recap, Underwood has landed the top player in the state of Illinois twice, he has secured three out of the 13 top 100 recruits, and Illinois is now winning more games due to this great in-state recruiting.
I haven’t even mentioned the fact that Underwood has already secured a commitment from Morez Johnson for 2024. He is the No. 2 player in the state of Illinois and his teammate, James Brown, is the No. 1 player. This could be a great one-two punch for Underwood down the road.