Thursday, August 2, 2007

Out-of-state prospects could save Illini

POINT #1 .... Do I need to even get into the recruiting history and efforts of coach Bruce Weber and the Illinois Fighting Illini basketball program? Talk about a topic that will never go away. But until the Illini can snare a commitment (or two) from a top nationally-ranked prospect(s), the naysayers will continue to have a voice. And speak loudly on the issue.

With top big man target Mike Dunigan of Farragut off to Oregon, former Washington star DeAndre Liggins off the board with a commitment to Kentucky, and the Hoops Report's top-ranked player, Iman Shumpert of Oak Park, looking elsewhere, there are still two players who could save the Illini's recruiting fortunes this fall-- Scott Suggs of Augusta, Missouri and Darius Miller of Maysville, Kentucky.

POINT #2 .... The Hoops Report has discussed the importance of this particular class for Illinois for months. After missing the chance to really capitalize -- in terms of recruiting -- on the magical Final Four run and season of three years ago, the Illini are in dire need of making a splash on the recruiting front. Top players keep slipping away, particularly those from the state of Illinois. But the out-of-staters, Suggs and Miller, are just what the doctor ordered. They are a pair of players Illinois does not currently have -- big, long, 6-6 players out on the wing that can score and currently have big-time suitors after them.

If Illinois can snare the both of them, it sends a major message in regards to recruiting and the type of national talent Weber and his staff can get on campus. With Suggs, whom the Illini have been in a great position with for some time, Illinois looks like it will have to outslug Missouri and Washington. In Miller's case there are a few more heavy hitters like Louisville, Kentucky and Tennessee. What better way to make that statement than to beat savvy recruiting hot shots like Rick Pitino, Billy Gillispie and Bruce Pearl.

POINT #3 .... Illinois has to get either Suggs or Miller -- both to make the statement it needs to make on signing day this fall. If they don't there just isn't a whole lot left out there in terms of impact players for a program that wants to get back to contending for Big Ten titles and have few impact players on its current roster. In fact, those aforementioned naysayers will be louder than ever if Illinois goes 0-for-Shumpert, Dunigan, Liggins, Miller, Suggs, and Matt Humphrey. If that's the case things could get ugly.

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