Florent Thamba commits to Baylor

By Thomas Polcyn, Illini hoops columnist

Three-star big man Florent Thamba has officially committed to the Baylor University. Thamba chose Baylor over Illinois and Nebraska.

There are two ways Illini fans can look at this latest recruiting whiff. Illinois lacks the type of size that Thamba would have brought to Champaign, but he also would have been a bit of a project.

The current roster features no real centers, which Thamba certainly would have been, but he is similar to somebody like Greg Eboigbodin, who is already in orange and blue. Thamba stands at 6-foot-9, with a massive 7-foot-5 wingspan that is perfect for blocking shots. But, he is still a very raw prospect. There were rumors swirling that Brad Underwood and co. did not want to take on another big-man who is not going to make an immediate impact, and it looks like Thamba’s decision to not attend Illinois is one that does not weigh heavily on the staff.

On the other hand, while he may be a project, it’s hard to deny how talented Thamba could be down the road. The skill will come over time, like we’ve already seen with Eboigbodin, but that kind of size is rare. He has the potential to be a legitimate beast in the post and a force on the defensive end. The only problem with this is that no matter which way you look at it, Thamba would have been a bit of a gamble for the Illinois coaching staff, and on a team that has limited scholarship spots, it might have been the right move to steer away from another project-type player.


Where to go from here?

Despite not landing Thamba, Underwood and his staff are certainly pursuing more help in the big-man department. They recently hosted Mississippi State big-man Schneider Herrard on a visit, and he is expected to announce his commitment in the next couple of weeks.

Aside from Herrard, Underwood and co. are said to be in on one of the top JUCO big men — Yuat Alok. Alok is a 6-foot-10 center who is an absolute beast in the paint. He is ranked as the top JUCO prospect of 2018 by jucorecruiting.com and would be a nice addition to Underwood to help out in the paint.

But, the biggest thing to keep in mind is that while the staff is looking for the answers, there are plenty of options and there will be no stones left unturned. The staff is still in on Tevian Jones and is doing what they can to shore up the class of 2018, and there will certainly be some moves made in the near future.



[email protected]