Wednesday, October 26, 2005

 

Shaun Pruitt Day!!

Well, looks like the Central Illinois beat writer posse has come out in full force on Shaun Pruitt's behalf. First, we had Tupper's blog yesterday http://www.herald-review.com/blogs/marktupper/?p=133 followed by Tupper's article rehashing his blog (where have we seen that before?) http://www.jg-tc.com/articles/2005/10/26/sports/sports%20007.txt and now Brett Dawson's blog http://www.news-gazette.com/ngweblog/index.cfm?post=243&blog=1. For this great work, we at Hoops Guys declare October 26, 2005 to officially be "Shaun Pruitt Day", to be celebrated by all Illini fans nationwide.

To be fair, Brett and Mark are both great guys whose livelihood depends on having a good relationship with the Illinois basketball staff. They both wrote books on the Illini's magical 2004-2005 run that culminated in the program's first-ever appearance in the national title game. I just tend to find it humorous that Brett and Mark write essentially the same piece the day after it becomes public that Shaun Pruitt has considered transferring out of Illinois (per a DePaul website that mentioned Jerry Wainwright's program as a potential transfer destination).

Back to Mr. Pruitt, since this is his big day. Shaun is the highest-rated Bruce Weber recruit on the Illini roster, and a player who showed immense potential in high school. He was asked to redshirt last season by the Illinois coaching staff, and he refused. On a team loaded with upperclass big men, Pruitt played very little as a freshman. After a summer growing (he's now up to 6'10"), getting stronger and attending big man camp, Pruitt has come ready to play in the 2005-2006 season. While rumors have circulated this fall regarding Pruitt's standing with the Illinois coaching staff, Shaun has worked his tail off and he looked as good as any big man in the program during Midnight Madness. It will be interesting to follow what happens with Shaun this season, as he potentially could emerge as the 3rd scorer the Illini are looking for after Dee Brown and James Augustine.

On the recruiting trail, it appears that Illinois is making a push for unranked New Jersey point guard Eugene Harvey. The Illini coaching staff reportedly will visit Harvey and watch him play this week. Harvey is coached at St. Benedict's High School by Danny Hurley. The Illini are also actively pursuing JUCO point guard Kevin Bridgewaters of Wabash Valley Community College. More on that later. Bruce Weber has been quoted as saying he plans to use one more scholarship on a class of 2006 player.

One last note on Dawson's blog. Wasn't this the same guy who was predicting Calvin Brock would be starting for the Illini earlier this spring/summer? Interesting that he's now got McBride and Randle slated for the 2/3 as pretty much locks to start. Personally, I don't think you can have Randle and Brock on the court at the same time, so they need to sub for one another, and Randle is clearly the better player at this point. Illinois may be susceptible to zone defenses this season, especially if Rich McBride does not improve on his outside shooting from previous seasons. Right now, Dee and Jamar Smith appear to be the only consistent threats from beyond the arc.

Comments:
For whatever reason, this is pretty common amongst sports columnists. Alot of times, the Tribune and Sun-Times will write articles about the same person within a couple days of each other---particularly during spring training, preseason, etc.

I think Pruitt will surprise this year...particularly on the offensive end. Not sure about his defense...but he is already Illinois' best offensive threat down low. If he will defend and rebound, Weber will have to play him alot----they need his points.
 
The thing is, these same pieces are written because certain players are made available to the press after practice each day, for Q and A, just like FB. I don't think it is a "conspiracy".
Weber told me about Pruitt being the best surprise last Saturday and I mentioned in my Weber interview. Before "Shaun Pruitt Day". If you watch, they will all write similar pieces every day.

He really needs to shoot a better percentage on his free throws if he wants to be a scorer though.
 
Hey Brad, good to see you, thanks for visiting the site.

All I'm saying is that I think things are getting interesting around Ubben. SC goes to KU, Tupper blog comes out. Shaun Pruitt transfer rumors circulate (those "in the know" have heard the same thing for months), and Tupper/Dawson come out with blogs praising Pruitt. There have been exhanged communications between "sources" regarding Pruitt's potential playing time this season and the coaching staff's willingness to play him, or the opportunity for him to transfer.

I think the staff has smartly given Shaun a great opportunity and hopefully he'll be able to take advantage of it with strong play. Personally, I think he's got more upside to help the team this season than Marcus Arnold (limited athletically) and Warren Carter (athletic and can score, but can't defend). And Charles Jackson is light years away from contributing. So Pruitt should start this year or at least get his opportunity. I think the scrimmage tomorrow and the exhibition games will be where Shaun needs to prove that he is a better starting optin than Arnold and Carter.
 
I've noticed that Supine and Tupper nearly always right identical colums and have seen this for years.

I'm not saying that there's a conspiracy or not - but it does seem possible the staff could have made Pruitt available for interviews to combat the transfer rumors too....
 
I agree Ryan, but it isn't as cut and dried as that, IMO.

Pruitt has actually played better of late. If he hadn't, do you honestly think Weber would say so.

That transfer rumor came out last spring, so why didn't he transfer if he was going to? If he wants to play, he'll stay at Illinois. They lost three bigs last year and lose another after this year.

That internet rumor had that
Frasor was told he wouldn't play at UNC because the other guys were promised PT, so take it FWIW.

Efrem, I agree with what you're saying, but the transfer rumors are probably not the reason.

Ryan, don't be a stranger at Rivals I need someone to argue with.:)
 
Good to read all sides of things, but wasn't there a quote by Pruitt combatting rumors? Could be reaching a little on the conspiracy theory. Granted, Pruitt's quotes could have been just "fluff", but maybe the articles are just a little reassurance.

I hope he steps up like I thought he would coming out of H.S., he was tough. Looking forward to future coverage of Illini, keep it coming.
 
32 - what was the Frasor story? That he was leaving UNC already?

Thx
 
Efrem:

I'm not 32 (although I almost am in age), but the rumor was that the UNC coaches have told him that they've already promised a starting spot to Lawson and Ellington. At least that's what I read third-hand coming from the DePaul Rivals site.

The Pruitt rumors seemed more concrete and I know there was at least a sliver of truth to them. Although I don't think DePaul would take Pruitt as Wainwright and Weber are buddies (Jerry's speaking at Weber's upcoming coaches' clinic in C-U).
 
There is no Shaun Pruitt conspiracy here. It's just the nature of the "beat". The beat writers - be they for the Cubs, Sox, Bears, Bulls, Illini or whatever - are all exposed to the same information at the same time when it comes to "daily notes" columns.

As for his potential this year, Shaun is what I call a "talent tweener". Some post players dominate with pure athleticism - see Amare Stoudamire. Some post players dominate with exquisite skill - see Tim Duncan.

The problem with Shaun is that he's stuck in the middle of the two types. He's just not quite skilled enough yet to overcome his limitations athletically.

Since he's not really ever going to be an explosive leaper, it just really magnifies his need to improve his skills - specifically his R hand, and the rotation on his free throws/jump shot.

And Charles is closer than y'all might think. Not this year - but soon. The kid is so coachable.
 
I can't see Frasor staying at North Carolina all 4 years.

How is Pruitt conditioning-wise?
 
Pruitt's conditioning is leaps and bounds ahead of last year. He was in the doghouse with the coaching staff from the beginning of the year last season due to poor conditioning and not being able to make his "times". He and Nick Smith were by far the laggards on the conditioning front. This year is a totally different story for Pruitt, as Shaun started conditioning in much better shape and made all the time requirements.

As for Frasor, it depends on what he wants. If he wants starters' minutes, it's hard to see that happening at UNC with Lawson and Ellington coming in. This season he'll get a great opportunity for playing time, however. It will be very interesting to watch how he plays against the Illini, who never offered him a scholarship and chose to offer and take a commitment from Jamar Smith very early in the recruiting cycle.
 
Personally I feel Frasor will struggle. He looked like the worst player on the court in the McD game, by far. He didn't belong. (typical UNC invitee) He never impressed me at all in H.S. He looked like an average ball-handler, slow, and an average-at-best shooter. Didn't he just have a good Nike camp or something, where his stock went up? I haven't seen Frazier play and I'll take him over Frasor. Not offering Frasor is not a mistake imo. What do you think Ryan?
 
Guys,

Any thoughts on the speculation that Ramar Smith might suddenly be an option, are academics an obstacle?
 
Smjohnson, I'd take Bobby Frasor over Chester Frazier in a heartbeat. Do I think Frasor was overrated? Absolutely. But I'd rather have the kid from Chicago that can shoot over the kid from Baltimore who tries hard but can't play offense.

DJPC, will be interesting to see if the staff goes after Ramar Smith. I wasn't impressed with him at Nike Camp. Scored a ton and showed great athleticism, but has no outside shot and is a 6'1" shooting guard. I just don't see him as a great fit with what Illinois already has on the roster, and he doesn't seem to be one of the "character" types that Weber tends to recruit.
 
thx Ryan, like I said I haven't seen Frazier...will see him 2nite. I agree on taking the Chicago kid in most cases, I have been underwhelmed by Frasor though. Frazier may have moreupside, we'll see. I hope the hype over him is somewhat warranted.
 
In an one-on-one interview with Pruitt in today's NG (Sunday) the internet rumor of him transferring to DePaul was brought up. While he didn't come right out and say "It's not true" he did say "that's just crazy". Supposedly a DePaul fan even emailed him asking about it.
 
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