Aug 24, 2012
Illini Coach Groce Returns To Recruiting Trail

The Daily Illini

http://www.dailyillini.com/article/2012/08/illini-basketball-coach-groce-back-on-recruiting-trail-after-losing-out-on-parker

From the start, John Groce has felt the pressure.

Just weeks after accepting the job as Illinois’ men’s head basketball coach, Groce had to make every effort he could to land Class of 2013 No. 1 recruit Jabari Parker, this year’s prize of Chicago’s fertile hoops crop.

But on July 12, Groce’s uphill conquest finally ended: Illinois did not make Parker’s top-10 list. While the news was disappointing, it wasn’t all that surprising to Groce, who not only faced the challenge of competing with coaches who’d talked to Parker for years, but also had to quickly replace the long-standing friendship former Illini head coach Bruce Weber had with the (Chicago) Simeon Career Academy star.

“Obviously, you’re battling, Groce said. You’ve been at it for four months, and some of the kids have been recruited by some other places for longer. That’ll really last on two classes, but even then we feel that we’re good enough at what we do and we have a good enough thing going at Illinois that we can find ’13s and ’14s that fit what we’re looking for.”

Recruiting has been an area of strength on Groce’s resume for years. The former Ohio coach recruited highly touted Chicago native D.J. Cooper to his MAC program, and, as a member of Thad Matta’s Ohio State staff, he was the lead recruiter of Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. Groce said the experience he had with Oden and Conley at Ohio State — two top recruits who left school for the NBA after one season — gave him a unique perspective on recruiting top high school talent.

“Just because a guy leaves, I think sometimes that gets a negative connotation — the one and done, Groce said. I’ve got an unbelievable relationship with Mike Conley Jr., who is a terrific student, great kid, great ambassador for his university. He was one-and-done, and Mike eventually will come back and already has started back up on his degree and takes classes. That’s not a negative connotation to me. It’s not.”

While Groce and his staff are still working on top Chicago prospects like Simeon’s Kendrick Nunn and Whitney Young Magnet High School’s Jahlil Okafor, he has more pressing spots to fill on this season’s roster with the departures of starting point guard Sam Maniscalco to graduation and 7-foot center Meyers Leonard to the NBA.

Groce turned his attention to finding transfer students with eligibility for this season to fill the holes, ending his search with former Drake guard and Champaign native Rayvonte Rice and Coastal Carolina fifth-year forward Sam McLaurin in the fold.

Illini Coach Groce Returns To Recruiting Trail

The Daily Illini

http://www.dailyillini.com/article/2012/08/illini-basketball-coach-groce-back-on-recruiting-trail-after-losing-out-on-parker

From the start, John Groce has felt the pressure.

Just weeks after accepting the job as Illinois’ men’s head basketball coach, Groce had to make every effort he could to land Class of 2013 No. 1 recruit Jabari Parker, this year’s prize of Chicago’s fertile hoops crop.

But on July 12, Groce’s uphill conquest finally ended: Illinois did not make Parker’s top-10 list. While the news was disappointing, it wasn’t all that surprising to Groce, who not only faced the challenge of competing with coaches who’d talked to Parker for years, but also had to quickly replace the long-standing friendship former Illini head coach Bruce Weber had with the (Chicago) Simeon Career Academy star.

“Obviously, you’re battling, Groce said. You’ve been at it for four months, and some of the kids have been recruited by some other places for longer. That’ll really last on two classes, but even then we feel that we’re good enough at what we do and we have a good enough thing going at Illinois that we can find ’13s and ’14s that fit what we’re looking for.”

Recruiting has been an area of strength on Groce’s resume for years. The former Ohio coach recruited highly touted Chicago native D.J. Cooper to his MAC program, and, as a member of Thad Matta’s Ohio State staff, he was the lead recruiter of Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. Groce said the experience he had with Oden and Conley at Ohio State — two top recruits who left school for the NBA after one season — gave him a unique perspective on recruiting top high school talent.

“Just because a guy leaves, I think sometimes that gets a negative connotation — the one and done, Groce said. I’ve got an unbelievable relationship with Mike Conley Jr., who is a terrific student, great kid, great ambassador for his university. He was one-and-done, and Mike eventually will come back and already has started back up on his degree and takes classes. That’s not a negative connotation to me. It’s not.”

While Groce and his staff are still working on top Chicago prospects like Simeon’s Kendrick Nunn and Whitney Young Magnet High School’s Jahlil Okafor, he has more pressing spots to fill on this season’s roster with the departures of starting point guard Sam Maniscalco to graduation and 7-foot center Meyers Leonard to the NBA .

Groce turned his attention to finding transfer students with eligibility for this season to fill the holes, ending his search with former Drake guard and Champaign native Rayvonte Rice and Coastal Carolina fifth-year forward Sam McLaurin in the fold.






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