Illinois was full of young, prospering talent this year. A lot of them showed flashes throughout the year of what they are capable of.
Along with the players returning, Illinois will be adding three highly praised recruits: Jereme Richmond, Meyers Leonard, and Crandall Head.
That is the number six recruiting class in the country, via scout. It is something that all Illinois fans have been waiting in anticipation for. Well, we will finally get to see them in action next year.
So, how affective can these players be?
I think they can all play a key role next year in helping Illinois strive. They all have specific things they are good at executing.
Brandon Paul is primarily a shooting guard. He is extremely athletic and can do whatever the coach asks for. He is a great rebounded, defender, and can shoot when he needs to.
D.J. Richardson is another shooting guard. He was a starter throughout most of the season. His main asset to this team was shooting. When he gets hot, he's one of the best shooters on this team.
Tyler Griffey is a player a lot of people may not recognize. He plays the small forward/power forward position. He did not get to see much playing time this year but took full advantage of it when he did. His best game was against Ohio State where he dropped 13 points.
Jereme Richmond is the top prospect for Illinois' recruiting class. He is 6'8" and can play anywhere on the court. His favorite spot is small forward, but he can play shooting guard as well. He was invited to try out for the USA 18u Basketball Team. If he can build up some muscle, he will be a player to watch out for in the future.
Meyers Leonard is a seven-foot monster they have coming in. He is a better built version of Tisdale. He has a nice jumper but can also deliver down low. He is freakishly athletic for a kid seven feet tall. He was also invited to try out for the 18u USA Basketball Team, and has the potential to be a NBA prospect in the future according to many analysts.
Last but not least is Crandall Head. Many may recall his brother, Luther Head, who is now in the NBA. I do not know what to expect from him. He sat out his whole senior year with a torn ACL. I do know that he has had a great career besides up to that point though. Only time will tell how he will recover from his injury, but he could definitely be a surprise player.
Sometimes too much inexperience can plague teams. This Illinois team will have experienced players along with these young kids, so it will be interesting to see how they mesh.
One thing is for certain though, if the young players step up Illinois will be able to hang with the best.