Mark Tupper's blog

Worry not: Illini recruiting victories are coming

2013-05-14T13:52:00Z Worry not: Illini recruiting victories are comingMark Tupper
May 14, 2013 1:52 pm  • 

Those closest to the situation seemed to think that Andrew Wiggins – the No. 1 basketball recruit in the Class of 2013 – would be picking Florida State Tuesday.

But when it came time for the 6-8 Wiggins to choose, he went with the University of Kansas.

That immediately elevated the Kansas recruiting class to No. 2 in the country and it lifted Kansas from what ESPN called a “fringe top 25 team” that was losing all five of its starters from last season to No. 5 in its pre-season Top 25.

What it really does is remind everyone the impact an elite 5-star recruit can have on a program.

That’s why although there can be misses and mistakes on the rating system and projections for recruits, this much is difficult to deny: If you stock your program with 4-star and 5-star kids, there will be enough “hits” to carry your program high in the rankings and deep into the NCAA Tournament.

And that’s why Illini fans are understandably paying close attention to what the highly ranked recruits from upcoming classes are saying about John Groce at the University of Illinois.

The transfers Groce has brought in – necessary in his view as he plugs holes, balances classes and tries to be resourceful in using rather than wasting unused scholarships (I’m particularly talking about 5th-year guys) – clouds the manner in which Groce will assemble this program long-range. He’ll do that with high school recruits, including the five who will be arriving on June 7th.

I’m sure over time Groce and his staff will have a few misses, too. But for the most part, I believe in their ability to evaluate and select the right recruiting targets, to project improvement most of us can only guess at, and to develop those players to bring out the best each has to offer.

Groce won’t be the same kind of recruiter that Bill Self is at Kansas or that John Calipari is at Kentucky or that Mike Krzyzewski is at Duke. But I think we’ll find that prospects will see his own unique type of energy, sincerity and an appealing style of play that will make some of those 4-star and 5-star recruits nod in his favor.

Illinois has had some emotional recruiting losses over the years, several to Kansas and Duke. I still remember driving to the Chicago area one night 15 years ago just to be witness to Corey Maggette when he informed a local TV station he’d be picking the Blue Devils.

But everything I sense about where this Illini program is headed makes me believe as Groce marches forward, there will be plenty of recruiting victories to celebrate in Champaign, too.

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(6) Comments

  1. Pistol Pete
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    Pistol Pete - May 23, 2013 4:27 pm
    Myke Henry is gone.
  2. Pistol Pete
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    Pistol Pete - May 17, 2013 6:58 am
    I liked Mark's optimistic piece & I share his optimism.
  3. Tendonitis Tom
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    Tendonitis Tom - May 16, 2013 11:55 am
    Iman94, it's fine to take a wait-and-see or I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it attitude. You can choose not to be optimistic, and that's fine. And understandable too. But if you would, please tell us where in his article you find that Tupper "pronounced Groce a great recruiter" and "said with certainty that he is going to be a great recruiter". Tupper's piece expresses his optimism, that's all. He's stating his belief. Perfectly OK to tell him you believe otherwise, but don't claim he's made statements that he didn't make.

  4. crkcrk2
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    crkcrk2 - May 16, 2013 9:12 am
    Agree with Iman. Those boys and girls over on Illini Loyalty are are annointing JG as the messiah. Paul, Richardson, and Bertrand were all well regarded out of high school, good careers but did little to elevate the program to national prominence. Remains to be seen what kind of foundation this years recruits will create. The journey from high school highlight film to being a productive Big Ten basketball player is usually a challenging one for most freshmen. crk
  5. Iman94
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    Iman94 - May 15, 2013 10:18 am
    I really like John Groce's energy and enthusiasm, but can we please let the recruits we have coming in, actually play a few games before we pronounce Groce as a great recruiter and say with certainty that he is going to be a great recruiter? Mr Tupper, this is a pure opinion piece and I love my Illini, but please how about a little meat on the bone with your story? For one, you are putting tremendous pressure on the recruits and as we know there is a ton of good and bad fortune on the recruiting trail (let's not forget what Samscum and Gordon did to our program, as well as Jamar Smith's bad decision....set the program back 3 years).
  6. crkcrk2
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    crkcrk2 - May 15, 2013 6:33 am

    Seems to be a pretty large difference between 5star players and 4star players.

    If JG will ot be the same type of recruitrs as Self, Calipari and Coach K, what type will he be? What types are there? Seems there are two types: those that get the highly rated players and those that don.'t crk
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