Smile Politely

Kendrick Nunn commits?

Southpaw shooting guard Kendrick Nunn, Neal F. Simeon Career Academy Class of 2013, gave his second verbal commitment on Saturday — this time to Illinois.

Nunn took advantage of the Chicago teachers’ strike to visit the campus officially, which means he was off-limits to the media. But the interwebs went all atwitter shortly after Nunn left the football game against Charleston Southern. The basketball team had a 3:30 practice at the Ubben & Corzine complex, and that’s where Kendrick confessed his love for the Illini.

It’s not the first time Nunn fell head over heels for a college campus. He’d previously committed to Texas A&M after spending a weekend with Billy Kennedy. That commitment was short-lived. You may recall we talked about it here.

The signing period starts two months from yesterday. So if John Groce and the Illini staff can keep Kendrick focused on Illinois, it seems likely that he’ll sign a Letter of Intent on November 14. That brings Groce’s first recruiting class to three so far, with Maverick Morgan and Malcolm Hill already committed to sign in the fall.

Groce spent quite a bit of time away from Nunn on Saturday afternoon. There was an Illini basketball reunion in town, and a few of the Old Alums made it to the football game.

Groce spent time talking with Flyin’ Illini Kendall Gill and new Director of Development Rick Darnell. Darnell and Groce were both head basketball coaches at NAIA schools. Then there was a mandatory interview with the (recently sputtering) Big Ten Network. Finally Groce checked in with Number One to discuss the final stages of their plan for world domination.

Phase one is not complete. Jabari Parker is still out there, and Paris Parham is still studying the Book of Mormon. Nunn and Parker are Simeon teammates. But don’t read too much into that.

Nunn has been friendly, of late, with Demetrius Jackson. Jackson officially visited Illinois two weeks ago.

Nunn has also been networking socially with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, the Canadian shooting guard who lives with Abe Djimde’s American host family in Charleston, West Virginia. Mayes lists Illinois among his final three college choices, along with UConn and Florida State. (Some credit goes to Jay Price on this recruitment.)

It’s been a rough start for the Groce Administration. Perception of the Illinois program is at its lowest in decades. Three key personnel joined the Groce staff, in significant positions, and then left almost immediately upon arriving.

If Nunn means it this time; it’s the first big (good) news since Groce was hired. This ball may be rolling.

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