Talen Horton-Tucker commits to Iowa State

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Talen Horton-Tucker commits to Iowa State

By Thomas Polcyn, Illini hoops columnist

Four-star recruit Talen Horton-Tucker has officially committed to Iowa State over the Illini.

This one stings for Underwood and Co., as he was somebody the coaching staff prioritized throughout the whole recruiting process. Horton-Tucker took multiple visits to Champaign, and everything seemed to be positive throughout. But, in the end, the Cyclones won out and the Illini will be forced look for other options to fill his spot.

Heading into the decision, the consensus seemed to think that Iowa State was the favorite to land Horton-Tucker. According to 247sports.com, the Cyclones were in the lead at 62 percent, with Illinois in second at 24 percent and Georgia Tech — who did not make his final three list — in third at 5 percent. The remaining ten percent was categorized as “cloudy”.

This is tough for the Illini on two levels.

The first is that Horton-Tucker is a great player, and one that fits well into Underwood’s system. Horton-Tucker uses every bit of his 6-foot-5 frame, and could even grow a bit more before he gets to school. He has the ability to finish at the rack, and a surprisingly nimble and creative touch to his game. Though he is listed as a small forward, he can easily fill any of the guard spots, and play anywhere as high as the power forward — ideal for Underwood’s positionless basketball theory.

Plus, he has chemistry in the past with guys like Chin Coleman and Ayo Dosunmu thanks to his playing days with the Mac Irvin Fire, but in the end, that wasn’t enough. Iowa State was able to steal both Conditt and Horton-Tucker from the Illini, along with other in-state talent like Zion Griffin and more. This is a pattern that Underwood and his staff would like to break, and to succeed in the long run, they will need to break it soon.

On the second level, it is just a tough look for the Illini. Even with Dosunmu’s commitment last Thursday, which was huge in its own right, this looks just like all the other Chicago kids who had Illinois in their top choices, but ultimately decided to go out of state. Underwood knows how important it is to recruit the state of Illinois, and though he got off to a good start with Mark Smith, Da’Monte Williams and Dosunmu, he has swung and missed on a few. Simeon, Horton-Tucker’s school, annually produces top talent, and having that connection could have been huge in recruiting the next Wolverine stars.

As far as this goes for the rest of this recruiting class, there are no other clear targets aside from Bryan Penn-Johnson, but even he looks to be a bit of a reach at the moment. If Dosunmu ends up as the only commit for this fall, look for Illinois to go the overseas and junior college route in order to add some talented big men and shore up the roster.

@TPolc

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