There isn’t a better or more fitting song on National Signing Day than Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” The lyrics are PERFECT.
For the the indecisive prospect, maybe even the de-commit, re-commit who comes crawling back to the original schools that offered, Stevie blasts …
“Then that time I went and said goodbye,
Now I’m back and not ashamed to cry.”
For the college coaching staff that spent way too much time on a recruit they were really never going to get, yet still believed they could get him, Stevie offers wise words …
“Like a fool I went and stayed too long,
Now I’m wondering if your love’s still strong.”
For the college coach describing the first time he saw the player HE HAD TO HAVE ….
“Oowee baby, you set my soul on fire,
That’s why I know you’re my heart’s only desire.”
And, of course, for the trusting player and parents who sign with the coach and program they believe in on this day …
“Here I am baby.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m yours.
You got my future in your hands.”
Signed, sealed, delivered. Well, maybe not exactly delivered yet when it comes to the November signing period as there are a few little things to be taken care of like ACT, GPA and high school graduation.
But fans of college basketball programs across the country celebrate it. (Ahhhh, what it must feel like every year at this time for Kentucky basketball fans). Fans get a little giddy when one of the national recruiting services puts their school’s recruiting class among the top 10 in the country.
Players, along with their parents and coaches, both celebrate and breathe a sigh of relief that it’s over. The process can wear on all of them over the course of their high school career with never-ending phone calls, the unofficial visits, the official visits, the indecision, the pressure of if all.
And the media outlets dissect it all, which is what the Hoops Report will do today in a Class of 2013 recruiting rewind.
Biggest Recruiting Coup
Washington’s Alec Peters to Valpo
When you live the life of a true, competitive mid-major, these programs need to beat out rivals and beyond — like the mid-major plus types and a high-major or two — on occasion. That’s what Valpo did by landing Peters, a longtime Hoops Report favorite. Coach Bryce Drew locked up a player who was courted by the Missouri Valley, Atlantic 10 and picked up offers from the likes of Boston College and Washington State. The Hoops Report regards Peters as the best perimeter shooter in the Class of 2013 in Illinois with all-Horizon League potential.
Most Important Recruit
Illinois landing Simeon’s Kendrick Nunn
With a new staff in place and a need for a high-level recruit with name recognition and reverence, coach John Groce and his staff secured a consensus top 75 talent nationally. More importantly, the signing of Kendrick Nunn opens up a pipeline to the Chicago Public League and powerhouse Simeon, while signaling a major step forward in recruiting for the program. Most importantly, Nunn brings intangibles and strengths the current roster lacks. Aside from Tracy Abrams, no current Illini brings the type of toughness Nunn brings to a team. He also brings the needed combination of knocking down a shot and being a big-time finisher at the rim.
Most Important Recruit: Part II
Illinois State landing Proviso East’s Paris Lee
It’s remarkable that despite being one of the catalysts for a team that went unbeaten in the regular season and finished second in the state as a junior, while also playing with the high-profile Mac Irvin Fire in the offseason, Paris Lee was overlooked. When July rolled around, Lee had a total of two offers on the table. Plenty more were on the horizon as the interest picked up quickly. Illinois State, however, moved briskly in the month of July, offering Lee and securing a commitment before the final evaluation period even started.
While the Hoops Report isn’t comparing Lee to former Proviso East star Dee Brown in terms of talent, the 5-10 point guard does bring many of the same intangibles and characteristics. Like Brown’s impact while at Illinois, Lee will inspire and push teammates. He will raise the level of competitiveness. He will help recruit and energize those around him. In the end, Lee will mean a great deal to the ISU basketball program and coach Dan Muller in providing a pulse and presence.
SMU landing two top 10 talents from Illinois
SMU basketball? Lets see, in the last 25 years SMU has won 20-plus games a total of three times. In that time, only the 1993 team reached the NCAA Tournament. There was Jon Koncak in the 1980s. Does that help? No, SMU basketball hasn’t exactly resonated anywhere at any time, aside from a brief run in the 1980s under coach Dave Bliss.
That didn’t stop legendary coach Larry Brown and his staff from targeting the Chicago area in upgrading this downtrodden program. SMU netted two of the Hoops Report’s top eight prospects in the Class of 2013 in Illinois in Proviso East’s Sterling Brown, arguably SMU’s biggest recruit in years, and the red-hot Ben Moore of Bolingbrook. SMU held off a host of high-major programs in the Midwest for Moore’s services, including Missouri, DePaul, Illinois, Northwestern and Minnesota.
Most Underrated Signing
York’s David Cohn at Colorado State
People in the Chicago area still don’t realize just how good this kid is and all that this 6-2 combo guard brings to the table. Cohn can score (he averaged just over 20 points a game as a junior), play both guards spots effectively, and you’re not going to find a high school player who plays as hard, from start to finish, as Cohn. Cohn is the type of player the local mid-major and mid-major plus programs can’t afford to let slip away but did.
Most Underrated Signing: Part II
Davidson landing GBN’s Andrew McAuliffe
While this commitment didn’t receive a lot of buzz, the fact is a program out of the Southern Conference was able to land a true big man with size, ability and academics — from the state of Illinois. The difficulty in finding a competent player with size, in this case one who can play both the 4 and 5 spots in the Southern Conference, is well documented each year. Davidson secured a key piece for the future.
The Rising Recruit
Bolingbrook’s Ben Moore
We haven’t seen a recruitment like Bolingbrook’s Ben Moore around here in quite some time. We’ve seen players raise their stock during the season, sometimes in the spring and regularly during July. The craziness of Moore’s recruitment, however, didn’t reach a fever-pitch until fall open gyms. Less than nine months ago Moore had one offer — from IPFW. The mid-major programs got on board in the spring. SMU and Colorado State, both of which made his final three, offered in July. And then the likes of Missouri, Illinois, Northwestern, DePaul and Minnesota offered in September. Due to the timing and late arrival of so many high-majors, Moore had to start shutting the door on them.
Jaylon Tate landing at Illinois
Last season was difficult for college coaches to evaluate Jaylon Tate, who transferred from De La Salle to Simeon for his junior year after two highly-productive seasons at the South Side private school. Tate was in an unfamiliar role, playing as a backup on a state championship team during his junior year. Although Tate began to grab some high-major interest this past fall, Tate to Illinois went down about as quickly as any recruitment you will ever see. Combine Illinois’ need at point guard with the improved comfort level and confidence Tate showed this fall, and the match was made.
Best Fit, Best Level
Waubonsie Valley’s Jared Brownridge to Santa Clara
When talking the individual player who found the right fit, style, level and league to play in where plenty of success can be had, there are two players that stand out: the aforementioned Alec Peters of Washington, who signed with Valpo in the Horizon League, and Brownridge. The 6-1 sharpshooter should be able to excel in the competitive but fitting West Coast Conference.
Best Small College Signing
Lewis signing Harrisburg’s Capel Henshaw
There weren’t many small college (Division II, Division III and NAIA) signings or commitments; those typically don’t occur until after the calendar turns to the new year. But coach Scott Trost signed a ready-made college player as Henshaw has strengths that immediately translate to finding his way on the floor early in his college career: tremendous shooting ability, strength and a competitive nature.
Most Recurring Recruiting Theme
Out-of-state programs landing multiple recruits
Led by Valparaiso, which came across the Illinois/Indiana border to steal away three separate recruits — Washington’s Alec Peters, Andrew’s Jubril Adekoya and Marist’s Lexus Williams — there were several different programs that landed multiple Illinois products. Dayton signed Simeon’s Kendall Pollard and Morgan Park’s Kyle Davis; Minnesota inked De La Salle’s Alvin Ellis and Seton Academy’s Alex Foster; SMU will welcome Bolingbrook’s Ben Moore and Proviso East’s Sterling Brown next fall.
The college basketball programs in the state of Illinois have struggled mightily over the past few seasons. In-state talent leaving Illinois — so far 13 of the top 20 committed prospects in Illinois — is a big reason why.
The Best Unsigned Player
Oh, yeah, that Jabari Parker kid. We still, of course, have the state’s best senior prospect, Jabari Parker of Simeon, still on the board. As with any recruitment, the process is fluid, especially as the official visits come and go and Parker takes it all in. Here is how the Hoops Report sees the Parker Sweepstakes as of Nov. 14, with percentages attached to each of the five finalists.
Florida … 36%
Michigan State … 30%
Duke … 28%
BYU … 3%
Stanford … 3%