With the shuffle of coaches, early NBA departures, and transfers, the status of many 2017 recruits remains in limbo. As we inch closer to the May 17th deadline, the offseason is just heating up. Though there were no major Big Ten signings, there were certainly several titanic developments in the past week.
Let’s take a look at some of the top recruiting headlines.
-The Illini’s Coveted 2017 Recruiting Class is on the Brink of Destruction.
The 2016-17 Illinois Fighting Illini season marked the fourth straight year that the program failed to make the NCAA Tournament. Despite struggling through yet another disappointing on court performance, though, former Illini coach John Groce made tremendous strides on the recruiting trail. Ranked 11th nationally and 1st in the Big Ten, the 2017 class showcased a 4-star center and three 4-star guards. Impressive as the group was, however, Groce could not hang on to his job.
The initial fear of losing commitments following the firing was quelled by an early sign of faith. Early last week, top recruit Jerimiah Tilmon took to social media to show his support to the program. Tilmon re-tweeted his initial announcement of allegiance to the home state Illini:
The excitement would be short lived. Two days later, the 7th ranked center requested his release from Illinois and his signed LOI. The move opens the door for schools like North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan State, Indiana, Texas, UCLA and Missouri to re-state their case for Tilmon’s services.
The Fighting Illini will remain in the race, though, thanks to their retention of assistant coach Jamall Walker. "Illinois will always remain an option because of my ongoing relationship with Coach Walker, but this is my future and I need to be certain before coming to campus in June," said Tilmon per Scout.
To make matters worse, 4-star guard Javon Pickett has also asked for his release. Much like Tilmon, Pickett gave early signs of hope that he would remain with the program, only to later de-commit. Also like Tilmon, Pickett has left the door open for Illinois. “During this period I would like to stress that all options remain open to include the University of Illinois,” Pickett posted on twitter.
Since his release, the Belleville, IL native has received two quick offers from St. Louis and Western Kentucky. Pickett averaged 25 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.6 steals this season at Belleville-East.
Losing Tilmon and Pickett would certainly deal a blow to the program’s future should they decide to go elsewhere. As for 4-star 2017 guards Da’Monte Williams and Trent Frazier, the group remains committed to new coach Brad Underwood.
-With Miles Bridges returning, how will the Spartan’s chances of landing Brian Bowen be effected?
While the prospect of where 5-star forward Brian Bowen would land was always unclear, the return of Miles Bridges further complicates the issue.
With Michigan State on his short list, relation to former Spartan great Jason Richardson, his high school teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. already committed to MSU, as well growing up in Saginaw, MI, the likelihood of Bowen playing for Tom Izzo next season seemed like a good bet. Now, though, with Bridges occupying attention and minutes from the same spot he plays on the floor, the McDonald’s All-American may look to take his talents elsewhere. Following Bridges’ announcement, Bowen took to Twitter with a cryptic message:
♂️— Brian Bowen (@20tugs) April 12, 2017
In January, Bowen spoke positively about potentially playing alongside Bridges. “I think it’s a little different with Miles, because it’s really only Miles,” Bowen said. “They need another guy like Miles to come in and do a lot of things, because he’s been doing a lot. He has a lot on his shoulders right now. Coming in, if he doesn’t leave, it would be a great team with me and him.”
Arizona is also a member of the Bowen sweepstakes, however with the return of Allonzo Trier, the Wildcats and Spartans find themselves in a similar situation. Other final cut suitors like Creighton, though, do not have returning national stars occupying their starting five. If Bowen values playing time over all else, he may look to sign with the Bluejays or another interested program like Texas or North Carolina State.
-Jaren Jackson Jr. to Represent the Big Ten in the Jordan Brand Classic National Game.
The 15th annual Jordan Brand Classic is set to take place this Friday at 8 p.m. ET in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. The event features 24 of the top high school seniors nationally (male and female), 24 players recognized regionally, and 22 players from around the globe.
The national team will showcase Michigan State commit Jaren Jackson Jr.. Also a McDonald’s All-American, Jackson Jr. is the 6th ranked prospect in the 2017 class after a recent bump on Rivals. The 6’10” big, often compared to former NBA forward/center Chris Bosh, will look to build off his impressive showing at the Nike Hoop Summit:
In addition to Jackson Jr., the event features two potential Big Ten players in center Mohamed Bamba, and forward Brian Bowen. Bamba has Michigan on his short list, and Michigan State is in the running for Bowen.
Check back next week for more Big Ten recruiting headlines.