May 2 illinois basketball chat news-gazette.com electricity videos for students

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Your question sent me down the Google rabbit hole trying to track down Darius Paul. After being dismissed from Illinois a second time, he played briefly at Hope International University, an NAIA team in Fullerton, Calif. After that, he played his senior season at Robert Morris-Chicago where he averaged 18.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in 2016-17.

He signed with Petrolero Argentino out of Robert Morris but was cut before ever playing a game. That led him apparently to the North American Premier Basketball League, where he played for the Vancouver Knights this past season before being traded to the Kentucky Thoroughbreds. From there? I’m not sure. I found two Kentucky rosters — one with Paul listed and one without. Definitely a winding basketball road.

Jamar Smith’s story is a little easier to follow. After one season in what is now the NBA G-League in 2010-11 (after his time at Southern Indiana), Smith has played solely overeas with stops in Venezuela, the Czech Republic, Israel, Germany, France and Spain. He’s currently playing for Unics Kazan in the VTB United League in Russia, and he’s averaging 13.1 points and 2.9 assists per game.

I can, if you count Brad Underwood last spring after he first got the Illinois job. Honestly, John Groce offered a similar number of players as the current staff, but Underwood and Co. are tapping new areas like New York and Texas and maybe recruiting the St. Louis area harder (although that’s a byproduct of more talent in the area it seems).

The coaches have their priorities when it comes to having so many offers out. For 2019, it’s E.J. Liddell and Kahlil Whitney and Francis Okoro if he doesn’t reclassify. But most of the 2019 recruits aren’t in the deciding phase of their recruitment right now. Lists will trimmed starting this summer, and Illinois’ recruiting board will shrink correspondingly.

Jereme Richmond is currently playing professionally in Argentina and averaging 9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds for Obras Basket Buenos Aires. He previously played in the Dominican Republic for two seasons after being released from prison in 2014 after serving 11 months of a three-year sentence for two counts of harrasment of a witness which tied back to his original conviction in 2012 of unlawful use of a weapon.

I honestly don’t know why Illinois has had trouble attracting big men. There have been some good ones in the last dozen years like James Augustine and Nnanna Egwu, although a large portion of the fan base didn’t realize what Illinois had in Egwu (a true defensive standout) until he was gone and the rim protection went with him. Still, it’s a shorter list than the number of standout guards.

I do, however, differ on your opinion that the state of Illinois produces some of the best big men in the country (while also recognizing Anthony Davis is from Chicago but Illinois wasn’t going to lure him from Kentucky). Right now? There are not a ton of Big Ten caliber bigs in Illinois. Francis Okoro and E.J. Liddell, who’s really not all that big in the grand scheme of things, are basically it.

That’s not to say there aren’t talented bigs. Just look at Cameron Krutwig at Loyola or Conant’s Ryan Davis, who’s headed to Vermont. There’s just not that many elite level forwards and centers, and when there are the rest of the country swoops in to try and get them, too.