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Wednesday Powerlinks: Illinois On the Rise?

In John Groce's first season he got Illinois back to the NCAA Tournament, now he's focused on returning the program to national relevance.

Stephen Dunn

Well it looks like I've managed to break away from Los Santos long enough to write up today's Powerlinks. Today we'll be taking a look at Illinois as John Groce continues rebuilding the program after a steady decline throughout Bruce Weber's tenure.

Groce building a contender in Illinois?

ESPN recently wrote an article detailing the rebuilding job John Groce has done since he took over the coaching job at Illinois. Groce took over an Illini program that had flamed out under former coach Bruce Weber and was able to get the program back into the NCAA Tournament in his first season. Now everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon as Illinois appears to be building a team that will not only contend for Big Ten titles, but possibly national relevance and the next major contender to rise out of the Big Ten.

Of course Groce's early success has to be taken with a grain of salt as his predecessor also started high before fading over the stretch. The biggest difference so far seems to be Groce's ability to recruit as he builds the program into a contender. Groce's 2013 recruiting class ranked as 18th in the nation by Rivals and now Groce is off to a fast start with highly touted Quentin Snider and forwards Leron Black and Michael Finke. It'll definitely be interesting to see how Illinois builds over the next few seasons with Groce starting to bring Illinois back to national relevance.

Ahmad Starks decision expected soon

Ahmad Starks announced his decision to transfer from Oregon State to Illinois this past spring and was seeking a waiver to play immediately at Illinois this season. Starks is hoping for a hardship waiver as he is moving closer to home to be closer to his ailing grandmother. In typical fashion the NCAA has been slow to make a decision on his waiver application, though Starks believes the NCAA will be making a decision in the near future. Starks averaged 10.4 points per game and shot 39.4% from beyond the arc last season for the Beavers and would be a solid perimeter option for Illinois. His waiver application is pretty important as well, as Illinois could end up oversigned next season if he has to sit out for a year.

Korie Lucious admits to why he was dismissed from Michigan State

Korie Lucious was once a promising player at Michigan State before he was dismissed from the team and ended up in transfer haven Iowa State. Now the reason for Lucious's dismissal has surfaced:

I was smoking I don't want to tell a lot of people that but I was smoking a lot of weed at Michigan State, that's the real reason I got kicked off the team and I let my mom, family and friends down. To be honest Michigan State was a great program I'm not taking anything from Coach Izzo or the team but that wasn't the place for me to be.

Lucious also detailed about how Izzo didn't "respect" his game in the article. Lucious is now trying to start his international career in Poland.

UM Hoops posts Mitch McGary video scouting report

UM Hoops is starting a new feature with video scouting reports for the Wolverine players. They're kicking the series off with sophomore Mitch McGary.

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