Illini Wonk
Thursday, August 25, 2005
  Brandon Rush update
According to a statement, Brandon Rush is awaiting a transcript from a school he attended shortly before it closes. The NCAA Clearinghouse needs it to confirm his eligibility.

A Lawrence TV staion is reporting that Rush has obtained a student ID from Kansas University. Hat tip to Phog Blog for finding this news. It looks like this could be the end to one of the stranger recruiting battles in recent memory.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
  Illinois basketball recruiting: past & present
An article in the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World today has a couple of pieces of interesting news for fans of Illinois basketball.

On the Brandon Rush recruiting saga, which Illini Wonk recently posted on here, the article from Gary Bedore reads: Still no rush to judgment: Brandon Rush, a 6-foot-6 guard from Kansas City, Mo., did not announce his college plans on Monday. It’s believed he’s still waiting word from the NCAA Clearinghouse before announcing for either KU, Indiana or Illinois. Sources close to the family have said KU is the likely choice as long as he’s eligible to play. The long-awaited decision could come today or Wednesday.

The article also includes a final report from the Sport Tours International All-Stars six-game trip to Sentjur, Slovenia. Incoming Illinois Freshman, Chester Frazier, finished third on the team in scoring with a 10.8 ppg average.
Monday, August 22, 2005
  Debating the Illinois Schedule
The official schedule was released on Friday and the Illinois sports press is weighing in with their opinion. On his blog, Mark Tupper wrote that he feels sorry for season ticket holders who deserve a couple home games to get really excited about.

John Supinie put it a little more diplomatically, saying that Illinois' nonconference schedule will give a program in transition a chance at a running start. The Chicago Tribune leads with the North Carolina game, that we knew about seven weeks ago.

The Fighting Illini did lose a lot from last year and had to schedule with the possibility that Dee Brown would be gone as well. But, what do you think? Is the schedule too easy? Too hard? Post your comments below and vote in the poll to the right.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
  Deron Williams: Blogger
Deron Williams is blogging.
Friday, August 19, 2005
  Illinois 2005-2006 Basketball Schedule

The Big Ten Conference announced their basketball schedule for the 2005-06 season. The conference teams that Illinois will face only once are Purdue, Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State. Michigan State provides the bookends to Illinois' conference schedule, as the Fighting Illini open conference play on January 5 hosting the Spartans in a game that will be televised on ESPN2. Their final conference game is in East Lansing on March 4.

For those of you who are looking for an easy to read recap of Illinois' conference schedule, Jim Benson and the Pantagraph are happy to oblige.

Illini Wonk has obtained a complete schedule for the season:

2005-06 Illinois men's basketball schedule
Date Opponent Time (TV)
Oct. 28 Orange & Blue scrimmage TBA
Nov. 3 Illinois Wesleyan (exhibition) 7 p.m.
Nov. 9 Quincy (exhibition) 7 p.m.
Nov. 18 South Dakota State TBA
Nov. 20 South Padre Invitational TBA
Nov. 22 South Padre Invitational TBA
Nov. 25 at South Padre Invitational TBA
Nov. 26 at South Padre Invitational TBA
Nov. 29 at North Carolina 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Dec. 3 vs. Xavier* TBA
Dec. 5 Arkansas-Little Rock TBA
Dec. 8 Georgetown 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Dec. 10 vs. Oregon^ TBA (ESPN)
Dec. 18 Coppin State TBA
Dec. 21 vs. Missouri# 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Dec. 28 Southeast Missouri State TBA
Dec. 30 Tennessee-Martin TBA
Jan. 5 Michigan State 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Jan. 7 at Iowa 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Jan. 14 Michigan 3:30 p.m. (ESPN Plus Regional)
Jan. 17 at Indiana 6 p.m. (ESPN)
Jan. 21 at Northwestern 3:30 p.m. (ESPN Plus Regional)
Jan. 25 Minnesota 8 p.m. (ESPN Plus Local)
Jan. 28 Purdue 3:30 p.m. (ESPN Plus Regional)
Jan. 31 at Wisconsin 6 p.m. (ESPN)
Feb. 4 Penn State 8 p.m. (ESPN Plus Local)
Feb. 12 at Ohio State Noon (CBS)
Feb. 15 Northwestern 7 p.m. (ESPN Plus Local)
Feb. 19 Indiana 2:30 p.m. (CBS)
Feb. 21 at Michigan 6 p.m. (ESPN)
Feb. 25 Iowa 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Feb. 28/March 1/March2 at Minnesota TBA
March 4 at Michigan State TBA
March 9-12 Big Ten tournament%

* – United Center, Chicago
^ – Rose Garden, Portland
# – Savvis Center, St. Louis
% – Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
  Illini leading Big Ten Squad in Scoring
In a recent post, Illini Wonk told you about the Big Ten Men's Basketball Foreign Tour team was coached by Bruce Weber and included Brian Randle and Calvin Brock. The team has lost their first two games, but the two Fighting Illini players are leading the team in scoring.

In the first game against the Huesca Basketball Club, Randle had 15 points and six rebounds and Brock scored 12 points. In yesterday's loss to VIC Barcelona, Brock and Randle led the Big Ten squad with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Randle also added a team-best seven rebounds, while Brock tallied five assists.

Through two games, Randle is leading the team with a 16 point per game average and Brock is second, averaging 15 points per contest. Indiana's Marco Killingsworth is third with an average of 13. Apparently, the lack of a complete box score is due to technical problems.
Monday, August 15, 2005
  Tupper: Bruce Weber underpaid
When is $900,000 per year not enough? How about when you just coached a college basketball program to its first national championship game in school history? So says Mark Tupper of the Decatur Herald & Review in his column today. Tupper was of course commenting on the new contract that Bruce Weber received from the University of Illinois during this off-season.

According to Sports Illustrated, of the 15 college basketball coaches hired by major programs in 2003 (the year Weber was hired at Illinois), at least nine of them earned more than their predecessors. Illinois was one of only two schools who saved money on their new coach. For details from SI on Weber's original contract, click here.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
  Changing of the Guards
It's no secret that the biggest challenge facing the Fighting Illini basketball team this season will be replacing two All-American guards that were selected in the first round of the 2oo5 NBA Draft. Mark Tupper recently wrote profiles of the two leading candidates to take their spots and join Dee Brown in the starting rotation: Rich McBride and Calvin Brock. No one is expecting them to maintain the level of play we saw from Luther Head and Deron Williams, but their contributions are needed for the Illini to have a shot at a third straight Big Ten title.
  2006 recruit announces Illinois visit
According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Obi Muonelo, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior from Edmond, Okla is planning an official visit to Illinois. ranks the five-star Muonelo #18 overall and the third best shooting guard in the class of 2006.

The rest of Muonelo's list includes most of the upper tier of the Big-12. He has visited Oklahoma unofficially and is planning to also visit Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma State.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
  Brian Randle: Dunking Machine
In a recent post, Illini Wonk said that it will be interesting to follow the play of sophomore Brian Randle, as Illini Nation is expecting big things from him. John Supinie has a story about Randle in the Peoria Journal-Star and it leads off with his dunk on Penn State from two seasons ago.

In the upcoming season, it looks as if we can expect more of the same. Brett Dawson of the Champaign News Gazette blogs:

The highlight of the Big Ten foreign tour team's trip to Champaign came in one of the closed practices, when Brian Randle dunked over (and I mean literally over) Wisconsin's Jason Chappell. Randle took a pass from Minnesota's Spencer Tollackson, drove and rammed a one-handed dunk over Chappell that created first an eerie quiet and then an eruption of howls and laughter.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
  Recruiting Rush
I've seen a few weird recruiting sagas in my day, but the recruiting of Brandon Rush has become one of the weirdest. Rush declared for the 2005 NBA Draft and then pulled out about an hour before the deadline. Now, with his decision rapidly approaching, Rush made a visit to Illinois last weekend. It was apparently his first contact with the Illinois coaching staff in months.

If you've never seen what exasperation looks like on a blog, take a look at Brett Dawson's latest post, entitled Don't Rush to judgment. Here's a bit of what Dawson, of the Champaign News-Gazette, had to say:

Brandon Rush is visiting Kansas. I'm sure of this. No I'm not. I'm sure Rush visited Champaign last week. I think. When I talked to him on his cell phone, that's where he said he was. Of course, I was also sure that after that visit, he was going to Bloomington, Ind., to check out Indiana. I was sure of that because he told me so. Turns out he decided not to go. I'm sure that Illinois has a great shot at landing Rush. No I'm not. I'm pretty sure Rush will sign with the Illini. I'm pretty sure he won't. I'm almost positive he'll qualify for freshman eligibility. But I'm not sure of that at all. Is this confusing you? Welcome to my world. There's so much information (and misinformation) floating around about Brandon Rush that it's virtually impossible to believe anything you hear.

Illini Wonk has avoided this story for months because I didn't think he would every really come to Illinois, despite the fact that the Illini have offered him a scholarship. Rush is expected to make a decision this week between Kansas, Illinois and Southern California. Gregg Doyel of CBS is predicting Kansas.

Even now, about the only thing that is certain is that he won't stay in college for long. For those who say that's reason to pass him up, Illini Wonk would say that it worked out pretty well for Syracuse and Carmelo Anthony. If Rush wants to come to Champaign for a season, that should be fine with most Fighting Illini fans.

UPDATE: Apparently, Rush didn’t make his planned trip to Lawrence despite this invitation from a Kansas City Star columnist.
  Dee Brown heads Wooden List

The National Preseason Selection Committee of The Wooden Awards announced their Top 50 Candidates and Dee Brown is on the list. Dee is one of two players on the 2005 Men's Wooden Award All-American Team returning to College Basketball this year so his selection is no surprise. All eyes will be on the senior this year.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
  Last year's team Tupdate
Mark Tupper gives a good update of the 2004-05 Illinois basketball team on his blog. Luther Head was denied auto insurance, Dee Brown is healing and Roger the Globetrotters? You'll have to check it out for yourself. (BTW, that's not a typo in the headline. Tupdate is my new abbreviation for an update from Mark Tupper, THE authority on Fighting Illini hoops).
Friday, August 05, 2005
  European Vacation
Bruce Weber will coach the 2005 Big Ten 2005 Men's Basketball Foreign Tour, a team that includes Calvin Brock and Brian Randle from Illinois along with players from the other ten conference schools. From August 9-19, they will play five games in Spain, according to the Big Ten schedule.

It will be interesting to follow Randle, as Illini nation is expecting big things from the sophomore captain.

Also, incoming recruit Chester Frazier will join the Sports Tours International team, which will compete in Austria and Slovenia from Aug. 15 to 22. For more information, click here.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
  Where are they now?
Just because the 2004-05 Fighting Illini became the best team in school history doesn't mean we've forgotten the beloved Flyin' Illini of 1988-89. And, just because Deron Williams replaced him as the highest NBA draft pick from Illinois, doesn't mean we've lost interest in Kendall Gill.

In case you were wondering what Gill is up to these days, click here for an update. Apparently, he's doing some charity work in Champaign, boxing and getting ready to return to the NBA. Two out of three isn't bad and is even good enough to get someone to name their kid after you.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
  Fighting Illini Basketball Recruiting Update
In a recent post, Illini Wonk brought you the news that the Illini were still in the lead in a recruiting battle over Eric Gordon of Indianapolis. At least, they were in the lead until Duke entered the picture. Gregg Doyel of CBS reports in his latest Dribbles (sort of like a blog) that Gordon says the Blue Devils -- who weren't even on his radar, or vice versa, as of last month -- are among his top choices.

Doyel goes on to point out that whenever Illinois ends up in a recruiting battle with Duke, it usually doesn't work out well for the Orange & Blue. (However, for Doyel to say that Jon Scheyer committed to late-charging Duke is not exactly how it played out. Scheyer wanted to go to Duke since he was six years old and the Blue Devils were able to hold off a late charge from Illinois). Regardless of the past, it looks like another recruiting battle is erupting between Illinois and Duke. Stay tuned for updates.

In other recruiting news, Illinois Prep Bulls-eye has the Recruiting Buzz From Orlando on the Illinois high school recruits who played in the 17-Under National AAU Tournament. Here's what they had to say about the Fighting Illini recruiting in Florida:

While the University of Illinois is among the leaders for many of the top guard prospects in both the classes of 2006 and 2007, including 5'10 Sherron Collins from Crane Tech High School in Chicago, 6'3 junior Derrick Rose from Simeon High School in Chicago and 6'4 junior Eric Gordon from North Central High School in Indianapolis, IN, Illini assistant coach Jay Price was nevertheless taking an active interest in a couple of other guards in Orlando. Price spent a good deal of time watching both 6'3 Adrion Graves from Hughes High School in Cincinnati and 6'3 E'Twaun Moore from Central High School in East Chicago, IN. Both Graves and Moore looked good when we saw them in action. The current leaders for Graves are Xavier and Dayton. updated their Top Illinois (HS) Class of 2006 Basketball Prospects and Fighting Illini recruit Brian Carwell is ranked fourth.

To see who the Illini are recruiting, be sure to check in on the listings for 2006 and 2007 at Or, just keep coming back to Illini Wonk.
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