Bizarre signing day for Illinois basketball


Lily Katz

Illinois head coach John Groce watches his team from the sidelines during the game against Rutgers at the State Farm Center on February 17. The Illini won 82-66.

By Matt Gertsmeier, Columnist

gertsmeier-mattWednesday marked the first day of basketball’s early signing period. Illinois received the signatures of almost all of its verbal commits, except perhaps the most important one.

Before signing day, head coach John Groce had locked down four verbal commits. Three of the four made their commitments official. Four-star guards Trent Frazier and DaMonte Williams as well as three-star guard Javon Pickett all signed their National Letters of Intent.

Five-star center Jeremiah Tilmon, who verbally committed in July, did not.

This has caused a lot of speculation from scouts and analysts trying to decipher Tilmon’s choice of not signing. If he already made a verbal commitment, why wait?

This could be a hint at a recommitment from Tilmon. His recruiting profile on now indicates that Saint Louis might be back in the mix.

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For Illinois, losing Tilmon would be devastating. Tilmon was a huge addition to the Illini’s class of 2017. Ranked as the No. 25 best player in the nation according to, Tilmon helped launch Illinois’ incoming freshman class to one of the best in college basketball.

I’ve disclosed this in a few of my columns already, but I want to reiterate it – I am not a social media expert by any means. However, there are some tweets I would like to bring up and discuss.

The first tweet is from Pickett that was posted late Wednesday morning. It read “Shhh, just stop talking we good!”

This might be in reference to the news about Tilmon. This could be a little insider trading action, but Pickett doesn’t want to disclose any details out of respect for Tilmon.

The other tweet comes from Jordan Goodwin, a four-star Saint Louis commit who was highly sought after by the Illini. His tweet was also posted late Wednesday morning, and it said “It could be today or it could be tomorrow just know it’s gonna happen.”

This tweet included the 100, crying face and OK hand emojis. This could be about anything, but apparently Goodwin and Tilmon are pretty close. Their hometowns are a quick 20-minute drive apart.

But Tilmon not deciding to sign on Wednesday could mean anything. Nothing has been confirmed or reported.

Rather than dwelling on this odd occurrence, Illinois should focus its attention to the three commits who signed and will be suiting up next season. Without Tilmon, this class is still solid. Frazier has explosive speed and is known to push the offensive tempo. Williams has great athleticism and can play lockdown defense. Pickett has impressive length for a guard and isn’t afraid to drive the ball to the paint.

This class is good and still has room to grow.

There’s a chance that Illinois’ three signed commits could be joined by a few others by the end of this weekend. Five-star wing Kris Wilkes is making his decision Nov. 13, and three-star center Mayan Kiir is deciding Nov. 14.

And who knows, maybe Tilmon forgot his pen at home.

Matt is a junior in Business

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