Much speculation was created about five-star forward Jeremiah Tilmon not taking advantage of the early signing period. That was all cleared up Thursday. The Illinois native announced he was not going anywhere and had submitted a signed letter of intent to play with the Fighting Illini yesterday.
Wednesday was the final day of the early signing period. Rumors have been circulating in the past weeks about Tilmon’s intentions to flip schools. One of Tilmon’s closest friends, Jordan Goodwin, is a four-star guard and a St. Louis commit. As soon as the early signees started rolling in and Tilmon did not initially sign, the speculation of a possible flip to St. Louis began. Fans did come to find out there was some truth to Goodwin trying to flip his friend to Illinois during Tilmon’s press conference. According to Tilmon, those rumors were blown out of proportion.
Tilmon is one of the top 25 players in the country according to 247Sports. He is unanimously considered the best recruit in the history of the John Groce era. After years of seeing the states top recruits bolt for larger programs, Groce was finally able to retain the states most prized recruit. There was optimism among Fighting Illini fans. Having already received a verbal nod from Tilmon in July, there was hope Goodman would follow suit. Instead, Goodman and Tilmon following each other became Illini fan’s biggest fears following Goodman’s pledge to St. Louis.
All the worries of Illini fans were put to rest Thursday when Tilmon confirmed during a press conference that he is keeping his promise to Illinois. The buzz began when Tilmon was seen walking around in a Fighting Illini shirt before the press conference started. It took him only a few moments to ensure Illinois fans he was not ripping that shirt off to reveal a St. Louis Billikens shirt underneath.
During his press conference Tilmon spoke about his recruiting process and why he took so long to sign. Due to personal issues, Tilmon said basketball took a back seat. The Fighting Illini have been recruiting Tilmon since the eighth grade, which he said also played into his decision. The dedication of coach Groce played a big part in the final decision.
Tilmon, who missed the entire 2016 AAU season while healing from shoulder injury, has a lot to bring to Illinois. He admittedly says he has things to work on offensively and feels like his game is still the same as it was before the injury.
The 2017 Illinois recruiting class will likely be considered one for the ages. With or without Tilmon, the three-man class was very talented. Tilmon is the fourth member of the 2017 class and the most coveted piece. He will likely be the corner stone of the Illini basketball team next season. Tilmon is the crown jewel of a top ten recruiting class in America. Joining Tilmon in 2017 will be guards Trent Frazier, DaMonte Williams and Javon Pickett. Of the four recruits, three are in-state products who come out of Illinois.