Talen Horton-Tucker Next Illini Basketball Target with Ayo Dosunmu in Fold

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“I just want to bring good days back for basketball at Illinois and I want to be one of the cornerstones to start it off,” 5-star guard Ayo Dosunmu said after he committed to the Illini Thursday night. It’s quite possible down the line that we will look back on this moment as the evening that everything began turning back around for the program. 

Potentially, we’ll associate the Jay-Z instrumental “Thank You” with the Illini hoops turning point, as it was the song in Dosunmu’s decision video that initiated his University of Illinois announcement.

Once the video finished playing, Dosunmu (ranked #31 overall nationally by Athlon, #31 by Lindy’s) emerged to the press conference wearing an Illini polo, and a long, frustrating stretch of Illini recruiting woes that have stretched over many years finally ceased.

ayo dosunmu

Now we’ll see if the positive momentum continues as Talen Horton-Tucker (ranked #79 overall by Lindy’s) visited this weekend and that is one huge official visit. There is no better way to recruit top talent than to already have elite talent on hand/in the fold.

Mark Smith committing to Illinois this past spring was key to securing Ayo, and the dominoes continue to fall. 

“He said we can be the best backcourt and that if I have his back he has my back,” Dosunmu said when asked about playing with Smith next season. “I think it can be scary.”

Illini basketball coach Underwood has whole lot to sell to recruits in: his 7 seconds and shoot on every possession offense, the reputation he has for grooming guards, and the program’s #11 ranking in the Associated Press all-time poll.

mark smith illini basketball

“They like to play fast, I like to play fast,” Dosunmu said of the Illini style of play, and how he fits in.

“[Underwood] told me I could have the ball right away. He told me that I can be one of the freshmen playing the most minutes coming out so we sat there and talked about a lot of things.”

Another big-time player from the Chicago area who could see minutes right away is Talen Horton Tucker. Signing the big, athletic Simeon Wolverine would help build depth for the Illini on the wing. In addition to Illinois he has also visited Xavier, Georgia Tech and Iowa State.

Georgetown is also considered one of the front-runners for THT, but he has offers from numerous other schools.

talen horton tucker

One of those schools is Michigan State who will also no doubt be a major factor in the recruiting battle for the prospect ranked #54 by Rivals. One factor in Illinois’ favor is the fact that Horton-Tucker plays his AAU basketball with the Mac Irvin Fire, where he was teammates with Dosunmu.

Another connection is Illinois Assistant Ron “Chin” Coleman, a Chicago native and head coach of the Mac Irvin Fire from 2005-11. Coleman is obviously the lead recruiter on Horton-Tucker for Illinois. 

How did his Champaign visit go?

As you can see from the tweets below, it generated a ton of excitement.

That last one is key, as it evokes the Illini basketball-Simeon pipeline, a narrative that everybody in the state has been made consistently well aware of the past few decades.

The previous regime of John Groce only lasted three years but they brought in three Simeon players- Jaylon Tate, Kendrick Nunn and D.J. Williams.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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