Groce Lands Highly Regarded Quintet in First Recruiting Class
Nov. 14, 2012
Honolulu, Hawaii - University of Illinois head coach John Groce announced Wednesday the signing of five student-athletes to national letters of intent. Those players, listed alphabetically, are Austin Colbert, Malcolm Hill, Maverick Morgan, Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate.
Illinois has recruited the No. 10 class in the nation according to Rivals. Scout, meanwhile, ranks the class 22nd while ESPN lists it at No. 23. In seven months on the job, Groce and his staff have landed a top-25 class according to scouting services.
"This is an exciting day for our program as we welcome Austin, Malcolm, Maverick, Kendrick and Jaylon to the Fighting Illini family," Groce said. "One of the top goals we had in this first year here was to sign a five-player class that fits our needs at every position, and I couldn't be more pleased with our results. These are five outstanding young men who have tremendous character, come from great families, and of course excel on the basketball floor.
"A great deal of credit goes to our assistant coaches, who have worked tirelessly on the recruiting trail," Groce continued. "We were able to identify and successfully recruit these five players who share our vision and will help us be successful. Coach Walker, Coach Ford, and Coach Parham have all hit the ground running and played equally large roles in putting this class together."
Colbert is a 6-9, athletic forward from Gladstone, N.J. He attends Gill St. Bernard's High School, the No. 25-ranked team in the country according to a Preseason poll by MaxPreps. Colbert is a top-100 recruit who excelled at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June and competed at the Nike Global Challenge in July.
Hill is a 6-5 wing from Belleville, Ill. Another top-100 recruit, he was a first-team Associated Press all-state selection last season. Hill averaged 21.3 points as a junior at Belleville East High School, setting the school's single-season scoring record with 666 points.
Morgan is a 6-10 center from Springboro, Ohio. The three-star recruit averaged 21.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots as a junior at Springboro High School, earning special mention All-Ohio accolades.
Nunn is a 6-3 guard from Chicago who has been a part of three straight state championship teams at Simeon High School. The top-100 recruit earned All-State honors after averaging 15.1 points as a junior. Nunn also was a member of USA Basketball team that won gold at the FIBA U17 World Championships in Lithuania in July.
Tate is a 6-2 point guard from Chicago who teamed with Nunn to help lead Simeon to the IHSA state title last season. The three-star recruit saw his stock soar this summer and fall in open gym workouts.
Nunn and Tate continue the proud pipeline of Chicago Simeon standouts attending the University of Illinois, a list that includes former NBA star Nick Anderson, all-time UI scoring leader Deon Thomas, Kevin Turner, Bryant Notree, Ervin Small and Calvin Brock.
Notes: National top-100 recruit (No. 98 on rscihoops.com) a native of Chesapeake, Va. ... Ranked No. 92 nationally by both Rivals and MaxPreps ... No. 30-ranked power forward by Scout and No. 36 by ESPN ... Spent junior season at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn. after attending St. Patrick's in New Jersey as both a freshman and sophomore ... Invited to participate in the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June, where he averaged 7.2 points ... Selected to compete at the Nike Global Challenge in July.
Groce on Colbert: "We felt from the first time we saw Austin play this summer that he was the perfect fit at the forward spot in our system. He is an athletic, explosive player who is very versatile and can finish around the basket and face up on the perimeter. He is an excellent passer as well. Austin is extremely bright and has a high basketball IQ."
Notes: Consensus national top-100 recruit (No. 66 on rscihoops.com) ... Ranked No. 59 nationally by MaxPreps, No. 67 by Rivals and No. 68 by Scout ... Averaged 21.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.5 blocks as a junior at Belleville East ... First-team All-State by the Associated Press, Champaign News-Gazette and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association ... Second-team All-State by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times ... First-team All-Metro by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ... Class 3A-4A Player of the Year by the Belleville News-Democrat ... Set school single-season scoring record with 666 points ... Scored career-high 43 points versus Granite City (Feb. 24, 2012) ... Competed at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June.
Groce on Hill: "Malcolm was one of the very first recruiting calls I made on the job here. He is a very talented, multidimensional player. He can shoot it, he can put it on the floor and drive it, he is just wired to score and can do so in a variety of ways. Malcolm had a terrific junior season then missed this past summer with an injury. But he has been cleared medically and is looking forward to having a big senior year."
Notes: Three-star recruit by Rivals, Scout and ESPN ... No. 18-ranked center by ESPN ... Averaged 21.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots as a junior at Springboro ... Named All-Greater Western Ohio Conference and was South Division Player of the Year ... First-team All-Southwest District ... Special mention All-Ohio ... Scored a career-high 31 points against Belmont ... Scored 30 points versus Piqua.
Groce on Morgan: "The first thing you notice with Maverick is he has a great frame, great size. We've known him since our time at Ohio and feel that he will be a great fit at the `five' in our system. He is very intelligent and is a physical presence in the paint who will score, rebound, defend and blocks shots. He also has great shooting touch with the ability to play inside/out."
Notes: Consensus national top-100 recruit (No. 51 on rscihoops.com) ... Ranked No. 45 nationally by Rivals, No. 52 by MaxPreps, No. 57 by Scout and No. 59 by ESPN ... Averaged 15.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists as a junior, helping lead Simeon to a 33-1 record and third state IHSA Class 4A state championship ... First-team All-State by the Champaign News-Gazette ... Second-team All-State by the Associated Press ... Third-team All-State by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association ... Special mention All-State by the Chicago Tribune ... Also played on Simeon's state title-winning teams as a freshman (2010) and sophomore (2011) ... Member of the USA Basketball Team that won a gold medal at the FIBA U17 World Championships in Lithuania in July (averaged 6.9 points) ... Also competed for USA Basketball in 2011, winning a gold medal at the FIBA Americas U16 Championships in Mexico (averaged 9.6 points).
Groce on Nunn: "I love the way Kendrick plays the game. When he steps on the floor, he is always in attack mode, both offensively and defensively. He also has toughness and is a very driven, competitive player. Above all else, Kendrick is a winner. He has been part of three state championships at Simeon and has won gold medals with USA Basketball the past two seasons. Kendrick attacks the basket, finishes above the rim, draws fouls and has 3-point range, so he's a guy that puts the defense on its heels. We also feel that he will be an elite defender at this level."
Notes: Three-star recruit by Rivals and Scout ... Helped lead Simeon to a 33-1 record and IHSA Class 4A state championship as a junior ... Scored a team-high 11 points in the state semifinal victory over Bloom, helping Simeon advance to the title game ... Had eight points, two assists and two steals in state title game win over Proviso East ... Attended De La Salle as a freshman and sophomore ... Named Co-MVP of the Swish'n Dish Spring Warm-Up AAU event in April, leading MeanStreets to the title.
Groce on Tate: "We are extremely impressed with Jaylon from watching him during the summer and fall. He is a pure point guard and an outstanding ball handler. He knows how to run a team, can run a system, and is in charge out on the court. Jaylon has a great personality and commands respect from his teammates, a great quality to have at the point. He makes great decisions off ball screens, which will be valuable in our system, and is a good on-ball defender."