If Head commits, Illini fans can begin to salivate

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By Joe Henricksen

There are many talented underclassmen already committed to coach Bruce Weber and Illinois, but there is one in-

state prized piece still out there. And if every rumor that has circulated for weeks regarding Rich South sophomore

Crandall Head is true, that piece could be in the fold shortly. And if Head does indeed commit to Weber and the Illini,

it’s official: Illini fans should start to salivate.

The Hoops Report wanted to do it after Head dazzled at Assembly Hall a few weeks back, but you try to stay

away from over-emphasizing one individual performance. But after watching Head and Waukegan’s Jereme

Richmond, Illinois’ other prized commitment, play since that time, Head is every bit the college prospect Richmond is.

This is taking absolutely nothing away from Richmond and his talents. It’s just that Crandall Head is that talented and

features that much promise. These two, without a question in my mind, have established themselves as the two

best college prospects in Illinois regardless of class.

No, it may not be earth shattering news. We know they are both hotshot prospects. But I am speaking in

comparison to what we see currently in the junior and senior classes. The standard, potential and ceiling for these

two is so much higher than any of this year’s highly-touted juniors or any of the seniors. They are both so far

ahead of where any of the juniors and seniors were at the same stage of their careers. From what I have seen,

these two truly project to be among the nation’s elite prep players and future college stars. I can’t say that for

certain with any of the players in the classes ahead of them.

Head reminds me of a cross between two players fans from this state are familiar with. The obvious is Kendall Gill,

the former Illini great. The other — and probably more of a closer comparison — is former Crane and Oklahoma State

star and current Boston Celtic Tony Allen. Athletically he has it all: length, lateral quickness, leaping ability and

speed. He converts difficult finishes around the basket and is nearly unstoppable out on the wing in transition. He

has NBA athleticism and, sooner probably than later, a true NBA body once he fills out and adds a little strength and


OK, he does need to upgrade his ballhandling and overall consistency with his perimeter shot. And defensively he

tends to gamble too much, letting opposing players get past him. So yes, he has plenty of room for improvement, but

that’s the scary part. The aforementioned “weaknesses” are all facets that will only get better with age and

experience. Remember, we’re talking about a sophomore in high school. Overall, though, he’s playing at an

incredibly high level, especially in comparison to a year ago — or even six months ago. In comparing where Head

has gone from a year ago or six months ago to where Richmond has gone, it’s not even close as Head has closed

that gap.

While Head has clearly passed his other classmates in the Class of 2010 based on both production and potential, it

can be argued he’s on par with Richmond as a pure college prospect. Richmond is more polished at this stage, but

Head is the better and more explosive athlete. And as I said, his overall game has grown leaps and bounds. And he

has no ceiling!

And things only get better for Weber and Illini fans looking into that crystal ball. Brandon Paul, when he comes to

play and play hard, is a very special talent. He’s separated himself from the rest of the bunch in the Class of 2009.

He reminds me more of Luther Head’s high school days than Crandall Head does. I see Paul playing a very similar

role at Illinois that Luther Head did for Bruce Weber. Some are sold on Paul becoming a pure point guard. I’m not one

of those, but he can be an effective combo guard at the next level.

So if you’re looking at a potential commitment from Head, and you combine him with Richmond and Paul, that is a

tremendous trio to look forward to.That would be a trio, in my mind, that would come into Illinois more highly

regarded and with more promise than any trio of players Lon Kruger or Bill Self brought in at any time during their

careers in Champaign. That’s saying a lot considering how Weber has been lambasted over recruiting since his

arrival. And, oh, Sterling’s Joseph Bertrand and Peoria Central’s D.J. Richardson are pretty darn good, too.

When — if? — Head does commit, the salivating can truly begin Illini fans. These three aren’t your flavor-of-the-

month Iman Shumpert or we-would-be-satisfied Scott Suggs types. These three are difference-makers, no-

brainers we’re talking about here.

For more information or if you would like to subscribe to the City/Suburban Hoops Report, now in its 13th year of publication, call (630)-408-6709 or e-mail hoopsreport@yahoo.com

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