Since 2018, Brad and staff have worked hard to put Illinois basketball back on the map and it shows. But any way you slice it, NIL has drastically changed the face of HS hoops recruiting as we all once knew it. Of course, Illinois will always continue to be a top landing spot for 3-5star talent due to its amazing campus, up-tempo playing style & booming B1G conference. But the staff is paid A LOT to win and will be scrutinized more than ever as boosters contribute significant $$ to compete for the services of “win now” players from the Portal. So, while it’s unnerving that the roster is always susceptible to change, most players can be easily replaced, or even upgraded by other players with proven college experience.
Which is why it’s my honest expectation that MOST P6 programs won’t take more than 1-3 HS scholarship seniors per year going forward. There will be CLEAR exceptions to this i.e., Michigan State (Izzo) & Houston (Sampson), but overall, the downstream effect will send A LOT of talent to the Preferred Walk-On, Walk-On, Low-Mid Major, JUCO, NAIA, D2, D3 etc. levels of basketball. I also expect the NCAA to make some changes in the coming years to address these issues, but in many ways the train has left the station. We think we have it tough, imagine being a fan of a successful low or mid-major program these days? A breakout season for any player will almost certainly mean they’re not back next year.
So what does all of this mean for Illinois hoops recruiting? It means the staff will be as liberal as ever with offers, but MUCH more selective about unofficial/official visits and where their time is spent. Before accepting a commitment, they’ll need to be 110% sure that a player’s skills and body will be ready for the rigors of B1G basketball. And ultimately, recruiting will never be quite the same as it used to be.
Top Targets in 2024:
It’s no secret that the staff leaned heavily on the Portal this season and that next year’s roster will have significant turnover. *IF EVERYONE STAYS*, which we can all agree is highly unlikely, then (Sr) Dainja & (So) Hansberry will anchor the front court along with new addition, and immediate impact Freshman Morez Johnson Jr. Based on current roster construction, in my opinion the staff will look to add (1) more big man to the mix from the Portal, so I won’t bother to speculate about HS players except in my dreams where future NBA lottery pick 6’10” Darrion Sutton chooses Illinois.
Wing is absolutely a position of need next season with only (Sr) Goode set to return. This season’s roster has (3) Wings so in my opinion the staff will try to grab (1) HS player and (1) from the Portal. On the HS front, some names to watch are 3star 6’9’ Dillon Battie (Lancaster, TX), 3star 6’10” Jason Jakstys (Yorkville, IL), 4star 6’6” Jaiden Glover (Hillside, NJ), or IL’s most recent offer 3star 6’7” Josiah Mosley (Round Rock, TX). It’s also worth noting that 3star 6’6” Caden Wilkins (Bettendorf, IA) unofficially visited campus last season but hasn’t been offered.
Guard will remain fluid & ultimately depend on the success of this year’s players. As it stands, (4) Guards are set to return next year in (Jr) Rodgers, (Jr) Harris, (So) Moretti & (So) Gibbs-Lawhorn. If there’s strong chemistry this season and everyone returns, then in my opinion the staff will look to add (1) more Guard to the mix from the Portal. If Ty Rodgers shows strong potential, then it will be a Combo and if not, expect to see another PG in the fold. If there’s somehow room for a HS player, some names to watch are 3star CG 6’3” Mikey Lewis (Napa, CA), 4star 6’5” Larry Johnson (Castaic, CA), 5star 6’5” Isaiah Elohim (Chatsworth, CA), 4star 6’2” Dellquan Warren (Erie, PA) & 3star 6’4” Jase Butler (Point Reyes Station, CA)