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September 12, 2013
With the addition of Quentin Snider the Illini now have that point guard of the future in the fold. Snider, the #31 player in the Rivals 150 for the class of 2014 adds to an already impressive class of 4-star Leron Black and 3-star Michael Finke. Put that group together with an exciting 2013 class and the future looks bright for the Fighting Illini. Throw in a couple of instant impact transfers and this is a roster built for the long haul.
2013 Class members Kendrick Nunn, Malcolm Hill and Jaylon Tate give the Illini a strong foundation at the 3 perimeter spots, and Snider adds another piece as an impact point guard that can play early and often. Also, transfer Aaron Cosby from Seton Hall will be available in 2014-15 and 2015-16. This is the equivalent to an elite JUCO prospect with high major experience already entering a program. The newcomers on the perimeter are talented, no doubt.
Of course, the Illini will still have Seniors Tracy Abrams and Rayvonte Rice manning perimeter spots in 2014-15, which should provide some great depth, competition and firepower on the perimeter. That doesn't even include preferred walk-on Mike LaTulip, who rarely loses a shooting competition.
The Illini are bringing in a pair of different Forwards in 2014. Finke is a sweet shooting kid that has excellent ball skills. His passing and feel for the game is outstanding. Black is an athlete that can really make things happen on the glass and with his physicality. Although he likes to face the basket as well, he has the size to play inside and out. In the 2013 class, Austin Colbert fits as another versatile and athletic forward that can step away from the basket, but also should gain the strength to battle inside. Transfer Darius Paul also becomes eligible in 2014-15, and was the MAC Freshman of the year. As a 6'8 kid with an excellent build, Paul also possesses ball skills that help mask a lack of lift on the interior.
As Nnanna Egwu enters his Junior year he is becoming more of a force on the interior as he gains experience. He will still be around in 2014-15, but he has a capable fill in working behind him. 2013 big man Maverick Morgan has cut his body fat, increased his strength and athleticism, and become a much better player because of it. At 6'10 and 250 pounds, Mav is a layer that will learn and grow in a backup role before stepping into a more prominent role and providing the physicality you need in the Big Ten.
Still on the board
Of course, despite a top 2014 class already committed, the big fish is still out there. 5 star PF Cliff Alexander still lists the Illini and although rumors abound about him picking Kansas, Michigan State, DePaul or numerous others, the Illini are still in the mix. Black and Snider do not hurt the chances for Illinois, who look to have a very talented roster in the year or two Alexander would be on campus.
On to 2015
With the focus narrowed in 2014, expect even more attention coming to the 2015 class now. The new Rivals 150 for 2015 was just released today, and the list is littered with Illinois targets. At the top is Carlton Bragg from Ohio, and there is a long list of wings and combo guards as well in the mix. Watch tomorrow for our new hot board for 2015.