Illinois Headed In The Right Direction With The No. 9 Recruiting Class

Afrikka BambataaContributor IJanuary 24, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 14:  Demetri McCamey #32 of the Illinois Fighting Illini brings the ball up court against the Purdue Boilermakers during their semifinal game of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 14, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Fighting Illini this season could be a lot better if they closed games. Their currently 12-7, and could just as well be 18-1. This season the Illini lack the depth on the bench to be one of those great teams. 4 out of 5 starters are scoring an average of 10 or more a game, while their bench as a team only scores 20.1 all together.

Demetri McCamey has improved from last season, averaging better in points, assists, and rebounds. A year ago Demetri averaged 11.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.6 assist, and 0.9 steals. This season he has averaged 15.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.0 assist, and 1.7 steals. Next season there will be even more on the line.

Illinois coach Bruce Weber has put together ESPN No. 9 recruiting class. All three of the Illini prospects are featured in the ESPNU 100.

SF Jereme Richmond has had his eyes on Illinois since his freshman year. He is good at getting into the holes of the defense and makes the 15-20 foot jumper, as well as drive the lane and finish at the rim. Jereme senior year he is averaging 21.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. Jereme is ranked as the number 4 SF in this class, and number 23 nationally. Richmond will help out the Illini as they lack a dominant wing player that can affect the game both on offense and defense. Jereme is listed as 6’6’’ blessed with the pedigree of long arms and a strong lower body shows the potential that this young player has. Jereme will most likely come in and get the immediate time to help the Illini back to the NCAA tournament.

Meyers Leonard is one of the best big men in the country right now. He is a 7 foot center with the potential to be a great player for Illinois. As a high school player he dominated the post and is now touted as the No. 2 player out of Illinois behind future teammate Jereme Richmond.

Crandell Head the third best recruit for the Illini. However he has some much needed skill that the Illini lacks. He is a very quick guard that can stretch the floor on offense. Not only can he penetrate at will he can knock down the jumper. Head has some great ball-handling skills and makes the smart play on offense. Crandell can become one of the better guards for the Illini. Not only does he affect the offensive end but he can give you rebounds from the guard position. However he is currently injured after tearing his ACL on September 29.

After landing these recruits the Illini look to return to the NCAA Tournament. The recruiting woes for Illinois are over; they landed complete players which they haven’t done in a while. These players are great on offense but they play better defense. With the combination of McCamey, Tisdale, Davis and Legion the Illini look to make an immediate impact on the NCAA. With the addition to these recruits were going to need an improvement from players: Jeff Jordan, Bill Cole, Brandon Paul, and Tyler Griffey.

The Illinois program is definitely headed in the right direction with sensational freshman and experienced players. I give this recruiting class an A+ and look forward to the Illini in the future.