Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Illinois' scholarship crunch
By Matt Giles
In John Groce's first recruiting cycle as Illinois' head coach, the Big Ten squad landed what may arguably be the top recruiting in the conference. The five-man class is wide-ranging geographically, but also houses some much-needed Chicago talent for the in-state program. ESPN's Adam Finkelstein had an interesting take on one future Illini -- Austin Colbert -- and how the adjustments he has made in his high school career should help him excel in Champaign.
However, we have to wonder whether there might be some roster turnover among the current Illini following the season. Matt Daniels of IlliniHQ.com reports Groce and his staff are intensely pursuing Desmond Lee, a guard who formerly committed to UTEP but has spent the past two seasons in the junior college ranks. Lee ranks the Illini among the schools he is most interested in -- a list that includes Baylor, Creighton, and Arkansas -- but Illinois is currently out of scholarships. Even with several seniors leaving Champaign after the 2013 season, the five newcomers filled the open 'ships, which puts Groce in a dilemma. Clearly the Illini staff are interested in Lee, and the type of scoring punch the 6-foot-4 Lee can contribute. However, without any openings, either Illini will move on from Lee, or there may be another member of the squad who finds himself at another college in a few months. As Daniels notes, though, more will be known about Illinois' scholarship situation in mid-April.