Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Latest Info

Lots of interesting stuff to catch up on. Was in Cincinnati over the weekend, but heard quite a bit about the AAU tournament in Bloomington. Sounds like, once again, Derrick Rose turned in a dominant effort. He is looking to take on all comers this spring and summer, wanting to prove that he is the top guard (and potentially top player overall) in the nation. Some reviews from Rose's play over the weekend include the following, from the Peegs site highlighting Rose's matchup with Illini top 10 class of 2007 commitment Eric Gordon:

"This weekend it was Rose that clearly was the better player and his play all game was a huge reason Mean Streets Express pulled away from Indiana Elite to take the semifinal game, 71-52. Rose doubled Gordon in the scoring department in this one (20 pts vs 10 pts) and his emphatic dunk in traffic late in the game brought the Assembly Crowd to its feet as it was one of the best we have seen in AAU play."

Brian Stinnette of said the following:

"Behind a strong tag team effort from Derrick Rose and Tim Flowers MeanStreets Express defeated Eric Gordon and Indiana Elite to advance to the championship game of the Adidas May Classic in Bloomington, Indiana. Rose was nothing short of dazzling. I have seen all of the top 2007 prospects nationally, and Rose has left no doubt in the eyes of this writer, that he is the #1 Class of 2007 basketball prospect in the United States, and that includes O.J. Mayo!"

It was a disappointing weekend for Gordon. Not only did Rose clearly get the better of him, but Gordon's shot was off the entire tournament and he even missed 3 breakaway dunks. Gordon did, however, convince top 40 prospect DeAndre Jordan of Texas to play with his Indiana Elite team over the weekend. Jordan, who is considered one of Kelvin Sampson's top big men targets, is considering Illinois as well, and according to Gordon, has the Illini in his top 3 schools.

It's interesting that the Illini continue to recruit highly ranked class of 2007 big men such as Jordan, JJ Hickson, and Blake Griffin (recently committed to Oklahoma). There is some scuttlebutt that it's looking increasingly likely that one or both of Mike Tisdale and Bill Cole could spend a year at prep school, opening up another class of 2007 scholarship. Don't be surprised if that happens, and don't be surprised if Calvin Brock's and Charles Jackson's scholarships open up over the next year as well.

The Peegs site has really stepped up its recruiting coverage since Kelvin Sampson has taken the reins at IU. They've added some clips of Dametri McCamey and Evan Turner from the Spiece tournament:

16-U players who impressed in Bloomington include Angel Garcia of Lake Forest Academy, Lewis Jackson of Decatur, and 6'6" point guard DeAndre Liggins. Liggins has received an offer from Virginia and is getting major attention from Wake Forest. Another junior that is getting a lot of interest is 6'6" Indiana Elite forward Emmanuel Negedu. Negedu, who plays at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, has been getting serious looks from Indiana (offer), Kansas, Florida State, Iowa, Wake Forest, and Iowa State. With Illini targets Lewis Jackson, Jeremy Robinson and Matt Roth playing on Negedu's Indiana Elite 16-U team, expect the Illini to try to enter the hunt for Negedu as well.

Interesting news that Washington 6'5" swingman Mario Little has chosen Chipola College in Florida as his stomping grounds for the next 2 years. Little has high major talent, just did not have the grades to qualify. He'll be playing with Jamarcus Ellis and DeAndre Thomas among other former Illinois high schoolers at Chipola.

According to Stinnette, Dametri McCamey is generating even more recruiting interest after his play this spring. Besides Illinois, which has not offered the #51 player in the country according to Rivals, McCamey is getting interest from Indiana, DePaul, Michigan, Wake Forest, Virginia, and Miami, FL.

Michigan has also picked up its recruiting of Evan Turner and McCamey. According to the following Rivals article from the Michigan site, Florida is really starting to make a heavy push for Turner:

Michigan is also working hard on class of 2008 stud Delvon Roe from Ohio, who at one point was thought to be an Illinois "lean". However, Roe has not mentioned Illinois prominently in recent updates. The Rivals article also mentions that Dar Tucker continues to be recruited by Louisville, Marquette, Miami and "Illinois, a little". Word is that Tucker is a long way from qualifying in 2007.

Class of 2008 Illini target John Brandenburg is seeing his recruitment heat up. The 6'10", 235-pound big man from St. Louis DeSmet plays on the same St. Louis Eagles AAU team as Mike Tisdale, and reportedly has outplayed Tisdale on the spring AAU circuit. Brandenburg has had Kansas, Illinois, Wake Forest and Missouri begin to show a lot of interest since his strong play at the Kingwood, TX AAU tournament. His favorite conference is the ACC, but it's unclear if he'll be good enough to warrant an offer from dream schools North Carolina and Duke.

According to an article by Clint Jackson at the North Carolina Rivals site, #58 ranked PG Tyler Reed favors UNC, Kansas, Stanford and Georgia Tech. Illinois recently made Reed's top 6 list. Along with Travis Releford and Verdell Jones, Reed was one of the more impressive performers at the Jayhawk Invitational over the weekend. However, observers noted that the tournament was very watered down, with many of the top Midwestern teams playing in Bloomington, IN.

Scottie Reynolds returned to his Northern Virginia home from a weekend at Villanova without committing. He is still interested in 6 schools: Villanova, Illinois, Wake Forest, Oklahoma, LSU and Michigan. He has visited each school except Illinois and Wake Forest.

Some nice articles from the Toronto newspapers on Dee Brown. Brown worked out for Toronto yesterday, following up to recent workouts for Denver and the LA Lakers.

"It was a blessing that he got in another year of experience," said Jim Kelly, the Raptors' director of player personnel. "I think especially where he got another year in playing at the point, a position I think he's going to have to play in the NBA. "He probably didn't have the same success because his team wasn't as strong this year, although they did have a very good year, but they didn't have the players they had the year before."

One thing NBA teams won't have to worry about with Brown is media training. Brown had the assembled crew laughing when asked for his first impressions of Toronto.

"I didn't know too much until I got up here," he said. "They told me it was beautiful and has a lot of women ... and a lot of people."

"Disappointing? No, it was a blessing," he said of his forced fourth year.

"I got to go back and play point guard, show people my talent, go back and get my degree (in sports management, a semester ahead of his class) and do my internship. College is the funnest time in your life."

Now the fun ends, though. Brown is seen by draft experts as a second-round pick, perhaps available to Toronto with the 35th selection in the June 28 draft.

Virginia has entered the recruiting mix for E'Twaun Moore. Ace recruiting assistant Gene Cross is leading the Cavaliers' effort for Rivals' #30 ranked player nationally. Moore lists Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, Miami and Florida as teams recruiting him besides Virginia.

Arizona State has ramped up its recruitment of two point guards that Illinois has had its eye on. Jamelle McMillan of Seattle and John Roberson of Plano, TX are two players that Herb Sendek is pushing for since taking over the Sun Devils.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Rivals Rankings Released

Well, it's been an interesting day on the recruiting news front. As expected, Bruce Weber's entire Illinois Class of 2007 commitments has seen a drop in the latest Rivals 150 rankings. Eric Gordon dropped from the top 5 to #8, but he is still the highest ranked shooting guard and the #3 guard overall (behind OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose). Bill Cole dropped from 85 to 123, not surprising given his play on the Illinois Warriors this spring compared to teammates Manuel Cass (#80) and Brandon McGee (#117). Mike Tisdale dropped from #100 to out of the rankings entirely.

Other prospects of note include:

Evan Turner (from unranked to #23 and a five-star prospect), E'Twaun Moore (#30), Dar Tucker (#36), Alex Legion (#38), Alex Tyus (#41), Manny Harris (from unranked to #45), Demetri McCamey (from #91 to #51), Jamelle McMillan (from unranked to #70), Robbie Hummell (#72), Nayal Koshwal (#75), Trevor Mbakwe (#79), Eshaunte Jones (#84), Brockeith Pane (#127), Maurice Miller (#137), and Biko Paris (#144). All of these players have, at one time or another, listed Illinois prominently among their favorite college choices.

Clearly, this is the year for the Illinois coaching staff's Indiana and Michigan connections to pay off. While they have already picked up Eric Gordon from Indianapolis, guys like Moore, Tucker, Legion, and Harris are all top 50 Midwestern wing players who have Illinois high on their list. It's looking more and more like, should the Illini not sign Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon will be playing point guard. Especially when you consider that the Illini staff is said to be skeptical about Dametri McCamey. After McCamey, the next highest rated point guard on the Illini class of 2007 radar is Pane, followed by Miller and Paris.

For the full Rivals class of 2007 rankings list, click the link below.

Next up for Rivals is a preliminary class of 2008 ranking, which should be out in the next few weeks. Expect Illinois high schoolers Lewis Jackson and Deandre Liggins to be among the top 75 or so players in that listing.

Another ranking came out this morning, this from Rob Harrington of Prep Stars and USA Today. Harrington's ranking lists his top 50 in the class of 2007. Of note are the following:

Eric Gordon (#4), Derrick Rose (#5), E'Twaun Moore (#19), Alex Legion (#27), Alex Tyus (#35), Trevor Mbakwe (#39), Tyrel Reed (#40), and Mac Koshwal (#47).

In other news, Gene Pingatore was interviewed by Shay Wildeboor of regarding Evan Turner. How Wildeboor got Pingatore on the telephone is a mystery, as "Ping" is notorious for not returning phone calls, and has a secretary screen all his incoming calls. But I digress. According to Pingatore, Florida has entered the recruiting picture for Turner, along with Illinois, Wake Forest, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Clemson, Notre Dame and Virginia.

The Schmidt brothers have provided an evaluation of top Illinois class of 2008 players from the Spiece tournament. According to several sources, Matthew Humphrey of Hales Franciscan absolutely dominated several games. Lewis Jackson continues to impress. I like Jackson as a sparkplug type off the bench at the high major level. Is he big enough and good enough to start for a top 10, top 15 type of program?

An interesting article on the recruitment of Darrell Arthur, who yesterday committed to Kansas. Thought the quote from Dave Telep was particularly telling.

Also, Kansas has agreed to play DePaul in Chicago in the 2006-2007 season, although the formal contract has yet to be signed. Will be an opportunity for Sherron Collins to play in his hometown, and likely a nice way for Self to continue to build on his close ties within the Illinois high school and AAU ranks.

Despite his buddy Darrell Arthur's decision, Scotty Reynolds claims that LSU is still in the mix to be his college destination. However, one has to reasonably assume that LSU's chances just took a major hit. That leaves Villanova, Wake Forest and Michigan as the likely top competitors to Illinois Coach Bruce Weber. Will Reynolds visit Illinois? Does he need to? We shall see.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


News and Notes

The Schmidt brothers have done a nice job scouting several Illinois high school prospects from the Spiece 17-U tournament. Seems unanimous that Evan Turner has solidified his status as the #2 class of 2007 player in the state.

In an interview with Peegs, Turner acknowledges that Indiana offered him last week, and that he will be making an unofficial visit to Wake Forest later in the month. There is some speculation that Turner may really like Wisconsin, in no small part b/c of the Badgers' early and consistent recruiting of him. Iowa and Wisconsin were the 2 Big Ten schools on Turner the earliest, and both are likely to factor into his decisionmaking.

Now that Sidney Lowe has been hired at NC State, it appears Jamelle McMillan will look hard at the Wolfpack again. Virginia and Georgia Tech are two other schools making a push in McMillan's recruitment. He's a pure point guard who may be the best defender at his position in the class of 2007. The part of McMillan's game that needs the most work is his outside shot. According to this interview, McMillan prefers to play in the ACC or Big East. Expect McMillan to show up in's new top 150 rankings tomorrow.

Justin Young of states in a message board post today that Purdue and Indiana look to be in strong shape with E'Twaun Moore. His recruitment will be interesting as ACC and Big East schools begin taking a longer look. Hard to imagine Tennessee being a real fit with so many wings already on hand and Cordell Passley committed in the class of 2008.

Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks reeled in prized power forward recruit Darrell Arthur. Arthur will be able to provide scoring punch in the Jayhawks frontcourt next season. However, I'm of the belief that Kansas has enough talent, they didn't necessarily need another guy to come in looking for playing time. Could be some chemistry issued with Kaun, Giles, Jackson and Arthur all splitting time next to Julian Wright in the frontcourt.

In other Kansas news, Sherron Collins has been listed by Dick Vitale as one of his 6 diaper dandies to watch. It's a pretty impressive group, although I think there will be a couple other guys that make more of an impact at UNC next year than Brandan Wright.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Some Monday Nuggets

Demetri McCamey has recently received an offer from Indiana. His list today shows Wake Forest, DePaul, Miami, Virginia and Clemson. McCamey and his St. Joe's teammate, Evan Turner, plan to make an unofficial visit to Wake Forest in May.


Over the weekend, the Illinois Warriors played in the Sabes Foundation Invitational in Minneapolis. Warrior F Demond Watt of TF North made the first team all-tournament team. Young D'Mitri Riggs of Team Illinois was on the second team. No mention of Bill Cole.

Tommy Amaker and the Michigan Wolverines add a late signee, F Ekpe Udoh from Oklahoma. Udoh is a long, lean forward in the mold of Luol Deng.

Add Georgia Tech to the list of schools pursuing E'Twaun Moore. As Moore solidifies his status as a national top 50 player, expect more schools to get involved, not less.

Illinois is still a player in the Scottie Reynolds recruitment. However, Reynolds is not planning to visit Illinois, and cancelled his visit that was scheduled a couple weeks ago. Reynolds is also considering Villanova, which he's visiting in the next week, Wake Forest, LSU, Michigan and Oklahoma. plans to come out with its updated Class of 2007 rankings later this week. Expect to see all of the Illini's 2007 commitments to fall in the rankings. Eric Gordon will likely remain in the top 10, but it's rumored that he has been passed up by some players in the class. Mike Tisdale has not shown the weight gain that scouts were hoping for, and some say he's been less impressive than younger teammate John Brandenburg, class of 2008 forward from St. Louis DeSmet. Bill Cole has not played much AAU ball this year, and is splitting action in the Illinois Warriors' frontcourt with Demond Watt, Manuel Cass and Crane forward Brandon McGee. Cole had a nice showing at the Sabes Invitational over the weekend, according to this report from the Minnesota Rivals site. In particular, his outside shot drew raves, while he was noted for being very thin.

Rumblings from the Indiana message boards are that Eric Gordon may still be open to schools besides Illinois. While Gordon has publicly denied this, he will be playing in an AAU tournament next weekend in Bloomington, IN. Expect Indiana fans to be at his games wearing red, looking to influence him to join his dad's ex-coach, assistant Jeff Meyer, at IU.

Interesting news coming out of Indiana re: Kelvin Sampson's new contract. Apparently, IU can fire Sampson and face no financial penalty should his recruiting violations at Oklahoma be more serious than originally thought.

Brian Stinnette provides an update on AAU play from over the past weekend. Check out the blurbs on DJ Richardson and Angel Garcia. You can expect Garcia to be listed when comes out with its initial Class of 2008 rankings.

The Schmidt Brothers from Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye also have a feature on Garcia today.


Somehow Accomplished the Double!

Well, looks like I've been banned from posting on a second Illinois-related fan website as of today. This morning on the O&B News message board (, I tried to link some articles from the Minnesota AAU tournament where the Illinois Warrirors played over the weekend. Found out that "this user has been blacklisted from this site's forums", which was pretty interesting. Not sure what got Rivals upset enough to throw the ban on me, perhaps it was the "Guenther must have learned nothing from the Ron Turner contract" post.

The Illiniboard ban was expected as that site is comprised of complete homers who live in a dream world where Illinois and its coaching staff can do no wrong. The O&B News has always been a better site for more open dialogue, with opposing viewpoints debated intelligently. Well, looks like the Kool-Aid crowd has gotten its way, and the O&B News site has pretty much become a PR mouthpiece for the Illinois basketball staff. People definitely are willing to pay $10/month to hear what they want to hear.

Regardless, this blog will be an opportunity to post interviews, player reviews and a detailed analysis of recruiting this offseason. There will be banter back and forth from the Kool-Aid crowd and the realists. The AAU circuit has gotten off to a great start, and several Illinois players have seen their stock climb. Let's start some discussion...

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