Men’s basketball’s loses 1 recruit, may gain another

Rock Island point guard Chasson Randle announced he would attend Stanford next year on Wednesday at a press conference at his high school.

Randle, who made an official visit to Illinois at Illini Madness, reportedly had his school choices down to Illinois, Purdue and Stanford. He was ranked 68th in his class by Rivals.com.

De La Salle forward Mike Shaw is expected to announce his decision Thursday at a 3 p.m. press conference at his school.

Multiple reports say Shaw, the No. 58 senior on Rivals.com, is likely to choose Illinois.

No. 1 sophomores eyeing share of spotlight

The freshmen are ready to live up to their massive hype and the seniors are ready to take one last stab at NCAA tournament success.

Those themes have been central as the Illinois basketball team prepares to open its season with an exhibition Friday against Lewis University at the Assembly Hall.

But three contributors from last year’s team don’t belong to either of those classes.

“You talk about the seniors and the freshmen, but the sophomores are important to us also,” head coach Bruce Weber said at his Memorial Stadium press conference.

D.J. Richardson was Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season and Weber has described him as the team’s top defender. But Weber said Richardson has taken his game a step further.

“There are days he was one of the best players, if not the best,” Weber said.

Although he wasn’t pleased with Tyler Griffey’s performance in the Orange and Blue scrimmage, Weber said the sophomore from St. Louis is one of the best shooters on the team.

That leaves Brandon Paul, the highest rated recruit in his class by Rivals.com. Paul had a standout start to his freshman year but his performances tailed off in Big Ten play, where he started only two games and shot just 29 percent.

“I hope it continues, but he’s been very consistent in practice,” Weber said.

Added Paul: “That’s one of the things I’ve been working on, focusing on playing the whole practice without giving up and working hard. That’s how I’m going to get better.”

No. 2 PG a mystery

Weber provided insight into the Illini’s backup point guard situation Tuesday.

That insight, though, left things nearly as mysterious as they were before.

“Jereme (Richmond), at times. Crandall, if he can slow down, he can get some looks. Brandon, if he can just take care of the ball and get us into our offense, he’s not going to be a quick, zipper kind of point guard. He’s a little more methodical.”

Joseph Bertrand, expected by some to be the backup point guard.

“For Joseph Bertrand’s sake, I hope for his sake down the road he can get us some minutes, but we’re trying to limit his thinking and worrying about stuff and just letting him use his athleticism; run the court, pressure the basketball, do some of those things,” Weber said.