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Illini basketball ready for a big recruiting month in October

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

By Thomas Polcyn, Illini hoops columnist

Recruiting season is in full swing, and with October quickly approaching, it’s time for a recruiting update. Here are my updates and thoughts on the recruiting effort for Brad Underwood and his squad.

Landers Nolley — Fairburn, GA

Landers Nolley has quickly become one of the most interesting targets for the Illini and somebody who I think we have a very good shot at landing (pun intended).

Nolley recently took an official visit in Champaign, and according to interviews with The Champaign Room and Ryan Evan, he had a wonderful time. He mentioned how Underwood is selling him on the opportunity to “make his own mark,” and that is something Nolley is very interested in.

Following his official visit and an in-home from Underwood and his staff, Nolley moved his commitment date up by nearly four weeks. This is a good sign for the Illini.

While Nolley was not always mentioned as one of the top Illini targets, Underwood and co. have come in hot and are now the favorites to get a commitment from Nolley, according to 247sports.com.

This would be a huge get for Underwood and the Illini for multiple reasons.

Reason No. 1: the kid can flat-out play. Nolley is a 6-foot-4 guard/small forward who can really do anything on the court. He is the perfect fit for Underwood’s system and would be ready to make an immediate impact.

Reason No. 2: he has some serious connections with the rest of the 2018 targets. Nolley has history playing with both George Conditt, Colin Castleton and Ayo Dosunmu — three of the biggest targets the Illini coaching staff are currently after. Nolley was quoted saying he talks with Dosunmu every day, and you can see him tweeting back and forth with Conditt almost daily.

George Conditt — Chicago, IL

 We are roughly two weeks away from Conditt’s official decision, and I think the Illini are in a great spot. Following his official visit, Conditt still has one more visit on his schedule at New Mexico, but the competition looks to be between the Illini and Iowa State.

There is a case to be made for both schools, but if I had to make a prediction, I’d say it’s probably 60-40 in favor of the Illini.

Conditt has connections with guys like Nolley, Dosunmu, Mark Smith and more. Being from Chicago, he knows how good the rest of these guys are, and I think that, if they came together, this could be a very special team within the next couple of years. Plus, the short ride up 57 to get back home is a nice little perk as well.

Underwood and co. will likely have one final in-home visit before Conditt’s commitment, and if they come through, it would be a huge steal for the Illini.

Ayo Dosunmu — Chicago, IL

Dosunmu has officially set a date for his official visit with the Illini. He will be on campus October 13th — just one week after Nolley’s announcement.

I think that a lot of Dosunmu’s decision will come from the decisions of his fellow 2018 recruits. If Underwood does get a commitment from Nolley and Conditt, I can’t see Dosunmu picking anybody else. The possibility of landing those three — not to mention the possibility of even more — would immediately turn this Illinois team into a legit contender in the Big Ten.

With guys like Trent Frazier, Smith, Gregory Eboigbodin and more on the roster, along with the possibility of a top 2018 recruiting class, this team could be scary.

Dosunmu has not announced any commitment date, but it looks like it will not come until some time this winter. Underwood and co. will have to continue going after him hard, but the chances look good for the Illini.

Colin Castleton — Daytona Beach, FL

Colin Castleton recently had an in-home visit with the Illini coaching staff and seemed very impressed. He mentioned that many schools call you a priority, but that Underwood and co. have made him really feel it.

He is another big man that could make an immediate impact and could be a really nice addition to round out this class. He is good friends with guys like Nolley, and I definitely think there is a chance that he could be swayed towards Illinois. He recently cancelled his official visit to Purdue, so the Illini are certainly a contender for the big man from Florida.

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