Last year the state’s top prospect, Morgan Park’s Charlie Moore, zipped past the early signing period and played out his senior year.Thus, four months of endless recruiting chatter followed.
Prior to that there were high-profile players with major recruiting storylines centered around Stevenson’s Jalen Brunson, Young’s Jahlil Okafor, Curie’s Cliff Alexander and Simeon’s Jabari Parker.
The recruiting season for prospects in the Class of 2017 in Illinois has featured the least amount of drama we’ve seen in a number of years.
Most intriguing story: Jeremiah Tilmon wavering
The coveted East St. Louis big man was coach John Groce’s top target from the moment the 6-10 Tilmon entered high school. The tireless recruiting efforts paid off as Illinois received a commitment from the state’s No. 1 prospect in July. Now Illinois and its fans wait for Tilmon, a top 25 talent nationally, to sign his letter of intent.
It’s been confirmed he will not sign his letter-of-intent with the Illini on Wednesday, and there are now serious questions as to whether he will sign with Illinois at all.
Biggest recruiting steal: Conant’s Jimmy Sotos to Bucknell
The Jimmy Sotos recruiting whirlwind went from an unknown player to 20 scholarship offers in a matter of months, including plenty of mid-major and mid-major plus offers and interest.
The combination of academics and basketball proved to be too important for Sotos, which benefited Bucknell. Now the defending Patriot League champs have a 6-3 combo guard who’s ranked among the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s top dozen prospects in Illinois.
Underrated signing: U-High’s Jameel Alausa to Yale
Academics were a priority for Alausa, a highly athletic 6-7 forward with great upside. These types of individual talents, who place academics first and, thus, become a must-get recruit for high-academic schools, are a blessing for Ivy League programs.
Biggest recruiting loss: Belleville Althoff’s Jordan Goodwin
Illinois and Northwestern went down to the wire for the star guard from Belleville Althoff, one of the top 100 players in the country. But Goodwin, the No. 2 prospect in Illinois, spurned both and decided to stay close to home and sign with Saint Louis and first-year coach Travis Ford.
Biggest local winner: Loyola
Coach Porter Moser’s Loyola program cleaned up locally by securing commitments from Cameron Krutwig of Jacobs and Christian Negron of Larkin. Both were highly regarded frontcourt players and among the top seniors in Illinois.
With his big body on the block, great hands, tremendous passing ability and touch around the rim and facing up to the basket, the 6-9 Krutwig is the type of true big man you can do so much with offensively.
Although Negron suffered a torn ACL this fall and will unfortunately miss his senior season, the 6-6 forward will bring length, athleticism and a high-running motor to Loyola. Negron, who received a number of high-major offers during the recruiting process, averaged 16 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.2 blocks a game as a junior.
Best unsigned senior: Evanston’s Nojel Eastern
The multi-faceted 6-6 guard is a top five prospect in Illinois and among the top 100 prospects in the country. While Eastern has officially visited Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State and Seton Hall, DePaul has been hanging around. The Blue Demons had Eastern on campus this past weekend.
Unsigned sleeper: North Lawndale’s Carlos Hines
The 6-3 guard is a versatile threat in the backcourt as a shooter and creator, yet he continues to fly under the radar. But Hines is poised for a breakout senior season after averaging 14 points a game last season and showing steady improvement.
Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report @joehoopsreport