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July 2, 2012
As we enter July, visits are stopping and the evaluation period is upon us for college coaches. However, in the past week the Illinois staff has done major work in getting numerous high level prospects on campus as they try to show off the program, facilities and style of play to the prospective young basketball players from the Midwest.
With the Illini staff trying to get as many kids on campus as possibly prior to the July evaluation period, the last week in June was a busy week. Here's a look at some of the kids they had on campus and some thoughts on the visits.
*Prentiss Nixon, the 2015 guard from Bolingbrook had a visit to start the week. Nixon is an intriguing player because of his ability to score and make shots from deep. Should he grow he will become a highly sought after 2 guard prospect.
*His teammate with the Illinois Wolves, Jordan Ash, also visited last week and had a great visit. Illinois showed Ash how they would use him in their offense, as an attacking guard, something Ash likes to do. I would expect that after John Groce sees what Ash can do in July, you will see an offer forthcoming.
*2015 PG prospect Jalen Coleman also took in the Illinois campus last week. Coleman is widely considered the top prospect in Indiana within the 2015 class and is a player that everyone wants. Purdue, Indiana, Illinois and Butler have all offered.
*Cliff Alexander, the coveted 2014 big man also visited the Illinois campus. Alexander sorts and Illinois offer and many believe Michigan State to be his leader, with Kentucky once called his 'dream school'. The Cats haven't offered yet. , but it's going to be tough to make up ground and get to the top of his list. Alexander is a player that can flourish in the John Groce offense with his mobility, size and strength Illinois has also had 2014 big man Sean O'Mara on campus in the past month as they search for a big in that class.
*Semi Ojeleye also had an outstanding visit to Illinois. Semi isn't one to tip his hand, and Illinois is just trying to make the cut down list for the 2013 Forward prospect. Duke, Stanford, Indiana, Kansas and a multitude of others are following him closely
*Other visitors this week included JUCO prospect Karrington Ward, a Lockport product who had a great season at the JC level last year. Highly athletic, we hear that Ward put on quite the dunking exhibition on his visit. Ryan Fazekas, a 2015 wing shooter from Indiana is another visitor to the Illinois campus.
What's in a Visit?
Sometimes it's hard to understand what an unofficial visit to the Illinois campus entails. The visit process can be anywhere from 4 to 5 hours, with players watching tape of the offense, showing them the role they see for them, a campus tour, some food, and possibly a run with the current players. In some cases they are able to watch a current player workout, usually someone that has a similar position.
It's something that isn't just a drive by, but instead a detailed account of what to expect from John Groce, his staff, and the University of Illinois basketball program. Groce needs to do a great job in this area, because he doesn't have the prior relationships, nor does he have the background as a high major coach that people have seen a lot of thus far. However, he has the tapes to show his style and successes at Ohio.
*Former Illini shooter Jamar Smith is expected to be on the Celtics summer league roster. Demetri McCamey is expected to be with the Bulls summer league team this month.
*The NCAA has done it again this week. According to the NCAA calendar, visits are allowed through July 5th. According to the recruiting handbook, there are no visits in July. They are nothing if not confusing. Word is that they recently sent out a memo saying no visits in July to clarify, after many schools had visits lined up.