Some signs of great things to come


There was no short­age of drama and sto­ry­lines lead­ing up to na­tional sign­ing day for the Class of 2018 on Wed­nes­day. A re­cap:

Most im­por­tant re­cruit: Ayo Do­sunmu to Illi­nois.

The Illi­nois re­cruit­ing class is short on num­bers — the Mor­gan Park star is the lone com­mit­ment — but first- year coach Brad Un­der­wood was able to se­cure the top prospect in the state.

The 6- 4 point guard brings cred­i­bil­ity to Illi­nois and its new staff as a player who is ranked among the top 30 prospects in the coun­try. Do­sunmu, who chose Illi­nois over Wake For­est, is the type of player the pro­gram has been lack­ing in re­cent years: a pure, in­stinc­tual player who was born to play bas­ket­ball.

Big­gest re­cruit­ing sto­ry­line: The drama sur­round­ing Talen Hor­ton- Tucker’s re­cruit­ment.

Al­though no one in­tended for it to be, the re­cruit­ment of Hor­tonTucker be­came a huge story lo­cally.

Through no fault of his own, Hor­ton- Tucker was un­for­tu­nately put through the re­cruit­ing wringer. In the fi­nal days — and even in the fi­nal hours — the Simeon se­nior had to deal with the on- again, off- again saga of Illi­nois’ mis­man­age­ment of his re­cruit­ment.

In the end, the ver­sa­tile 6- 5 wing had the com­fort of know­ing there was a coach in Steve Prohm and a pro­gram in Iowa State that had been there from the start and who Hor­ton- Tucker had high on his list through it all.

Big­gest re­cruit­ing sur­prise: Iowa State’s suc­cess.

Hor­ton- Tucker, Hins­dale South’s Zion Grif­fin and Corliss’ Ge­orge Con­ditt are the sec­ond-, third- and fourth- ranked prospects in Illi­nois. All three are headed to Iowa State.

Yes, the Big 12 school raided a neigh­bor­ing state for three high­ma­jor prospects.

Hor­ton- Tucker was a player cov­eted by sev­eral high- ma­jor pro­grams, in­clud­ing Illi­nois, Ohio State, Ge­or­gia Tech and Xavier, among oth­ers. The late- bloom­ing, highly ath­letic 6- 6 Grif­fin can­celed an of­fi­cial visit to Kansas and com­mit­ted to Iowa State. And Con­ditt, a 6- 10 big with end­less length and po­ten­tial, sported over a half- dozen high- ma­jor of­fers.

Big­gest re­cruit­ing steal: Javon Free­man to Val­paraiso.

The re­cruit­ment of the 6- 3 wing from Young, along with his com­mit­ment to coach Matt Lot­tich and Valpo, flew un­der the radar a bit.

Free­man helped lead the Dol­phins to a Class 4A state cham­pi­onship last March and is among the top six se­nior prospects in Illi­nois. He’s an ac­tive, pro­duc­tive and still pos­sesses a high ceil­ing.

Big­gest re­cruit­ing steal, Part II: Mau­rice Com­man­der to Ten­nessee- Chat­tanooga.

The South­ern Con­fer­ence school landed a gem in Curie’s 5- 11 point guard with shoot­ing and scor­ing abil­ity. Com­man­der chose fit and com­fort over in­ter­est and of­fers from big­ger schools in more rec­og­nized con­fer­ences.

Best un­com­mit­ted prospects: Lib­er­tyville’s Drew Peter­son and Simeon’s Xavier Pin­son.

While Cham­paign Cen­tral’s Tim Finke may be the best un­com­mit­ted player re­main­ing in the state, Peter­son and Pin­son are the best un­signed se­niors lo­cally. Peter­son is a ver­sa­tile 6- 7 wing and Pin­son is a pure point guard.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ joe­hoop­sre­port.

Ayo Do­sunmu of Mor­gan Park ( left) and Talen Hor­ton- Tucker of Simeon signed with Illi­nois and Iowa State, re­spec­tively, on Wed­nes­day. | WORSOM ROBIN­SON/ FOR THE SUN- TIMES

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