Illini Outlast Gophers in Never Ending Big Ten Opener

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One of my all time favorite The Simpsons quotes:

“Mr. Simpson, this is the biggest case of false advertising since my suit against the film the Never Ending Story” –Lionel Hutz

The legendary lawyer played by the late, great Phil Hartman refers to a 1984 film with a running time of 94 minutes. Illinois escaping 81-72 in 2 OT over the Minnesota Golden Gophers ran about 2 hours, 40 minutes. It was a game in which no one ever seemed to want to take it, until finally, the Illini dominated the final four minutes of the final OT.

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Luther Head’s Brother Crandall Leaves the Illini Program

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The Illinois Fighting Illini will have one less guard on the bench tonight when they take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Bruce Weber announced Tuesday that sophomore guard Crandall Head, little brother of NBA veteran Luther Head has decided to leave the Illinois college basketball program.

Head was suspended for four games for the very arcane “violation of team rules” at the start of the season. He also ran into some off-the-court trouble last season. Unfortunately, he leaves Champaign being known as just “Luther’s little brother” because he never accomplished anything with the Illini.

Head played in only 26 career games with the Illini over 1.5 season, averaging a miniscule 1.2 points. He appeared in 17 games as a freshman, totaling 23 points, and saw action in nine games this season, tallying nine whole points. He scored a career-high five points last year vs. Northwestern and dished out a career-high six assists vs. Chicago State this year.

And you media types will certainly agree with this statement: he wasn’t exactly a great, interesting interview either.

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Illini Ink Top 10 Recruiting Class

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By Paul M. Banks

In case you missed it, today was “National Signing Day” for basketball. I totally understand if it’s not on our your radar, because it’s the day that we “officially” learn what we’ve already known for months, and sometimes years. We pretty much know where all the top recruits are going, but this is the day it becomes a contract. It just puts the notoriously gray area that is the world of recruiting into black and white, with some concrete headlines. And with the University of Illinois’ incoming class, those headlines are very happy ones.

Today’s group, the class of 2014 officially silences the critics who said Bruce Weber can’t recruit. It further validates the exceptional contributions that Assistant Jerrance Howard brings to the recruiting table. It’s matter of redemption from the whole Eric “Basketball Judas” Gordon saga. Without further ado, I turns things over to SID Derrick Burson and company, here’s the official press release.Illinois
Richmond, Head and Leonard Officially Join Fighting Illini

Champaign, Ill.-Illinois head coach Bruce Weber announced today the signing of three student-athletes to national letters of intent in Jereme Richmond, Crandall Head and Meyers Leonard. The Recruiting Services Consensus Index lists all three players in the Top 75, giving the Fighting Illini the No. 4 class in the nation by ESPNU, No. 6 nationally by Scout.com and No. 10 nationally by Rivals.com.

“We are thrilled to officially welcome Jereme, Crandall and Meyers to the Fighting Illini family,” Weber said. “They are three outstanding young men who have been committed to us for a long time. They are all tremendously talented players, extremely athletic, with the ability to play a mixture of positions. We are pleased to bring in three in-state products who are the top three seniors in the state of Illinois.”

Richmond, a 6-8 wing from Waukegan, Ill., famously made a verbal commitment to the Illini program three years ago before ever playing a high school game. He is a consensus top-25 recruit who was named Chicago Sun-Times and Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette Player of the Year last season after leading Waukegan to a record of 26-5 and runner-up finish at the IHSA Class 4A State Tournament. Richmond averaged 20.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.3 blocks as a junior, and kept Waukegan on its path to Peoria by hitting a half court shot at the buzzer in a sectional final victory over Warren Township High School and future UI teammate, Brandon Paul. Richmond’s coach at Waukegan is Ron Ashlaw. He is a member of the Mac Irvin Fire AAU program, coached by Mike Irvin.

Head, a 6-4 guard from Matteson, Ill., attends Rich South High School, coached by Scot Ritter. He is the younger brother of former Illini All-American guard Luther Head, currently a member of the Indiana Pacers. Head is a consensus top-75 recruit who earned first-team All-State honors for Class 3A by the Associated Press after averaging 21 points, seven rebounds and four steals last season at Chicago Crane High School, under the direction of coach Tim Anderson. Head recently underwent knee surgery to repair a torn ACL and is sidelined indefinitely. Head also is a member of the Mac Irvin Fire AAU program.

Leonard is a 7-0 center at Robinson High School. He is a consensus top-50 recruit who averaged 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks as a junior. Leonard won the IHSA Class 2A dunk contest and was an All-Apollo Conference selection, leading Robinson to a 21-8 record, conference title and IHSA Class 2A sectional appearance. His coach at Robinson is Bob Coffman. Like Richmond and Head, Leonard also is a member of the Mac Irvin Fire AAU program.
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JEREME RICHMOND
Wing
6-8, 195
Hometown: Waukegan, Ill.
High School/Coach: Waukegan/Ron Ashlaw
AAU Program/Coach: Mac Irvin Fire/Mike Irvin
Rising Stars/Brian Davis

Notes: Consensus national top-25 recruit (No. 18 on rscihoops.com) … Averaged 20.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.3 blocks as a junior … Led Waukegan to state runner-up finish in IHSA Class 4A … Ranked No. 16 nationally by Scout, No. 17 by both ESPNU and Hoopmasters, No. 18 by All Star Report, No. 21 by Prep Stars and No. 36 by Rivals … Chicago Sun-Times and Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette Player of the Year in 2009 … Consensus first-team All-State selection by the Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association in 2009.

Weber on Richmond: “Jereme is extremely talented and so versatile that he can play practically any position on the floor. He’s a team-first player who makes everyone around him better and that was evident in the way he led Waukegan all the way to the state title game last year. Jereme has tremendous feel and knowledge for the game, and his best attribute of all might be his passing. He has excellent court vision. We’ve obviously been close to Jereme and the Richmond family for a number of years. We appreciate their loyalty and the commitment they’ve made to our program and university. I know Coach Ashlaw has been impressed with the growth and improvement Jereme has made, and they have big goals for his senior season.”
iiliniatuc

CRANDALL HEAD
Guard
6-4, 180
Hometown: Matteson, Ill.
High School/Coach: Rich South/Scot Ritter
AAU Program/Coach: Mac Irvin Fire/Mike Irvin

Notes: Consensus national top-75 recruit (No. 59 on rscihoops.com) … Averaged 21 points, seven rebounds and four steals as a junior … Ranked No. 42 nationally by All Star Report, No. 53 by Hoopmasters, No. 59 by both Scout and Prep Stars and No. 73 by ESPNU … First-team All-State selection by the Associated Press and Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette in 2009 … Second-team All-State by the Chicago Sun-Times … Special mention All-State by the Chicago Tribune … Fourth-team All-State by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.

Weber on Head: “Crandall has been around us since he was in middle school, watching the success of his brother and our program during the Final Four run in 2005. So we’ve had a great relationship with him and his family through the years and are happy that Crandall also will be wearing that No. 4 Illini jersey. He has a lot of physical attributes that are similar to Luther, as he is extremely athletic and versatile with great jumping ability and is able to get to the basket. He has some rehab work ahead of him and needs to take his time and get fully healed. Sitting out will be a challenge because Crandall loves to play. ”

MEYERS LEONARD
Center
7-0, 215
Hometown: Robinson, Ill.
High School/Coach: Robinson/Bob Coffman
AAU Program/Coach: Mac Irvin Fire/Mike Irvin
Team Ramey/Terrell Ramey

Notes: Consensus national top-50 recruit (No. 36 on rscihoops.com) …  Averaged 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks as a junior … Ranked No. 39 nationally by both Rivals and Scout, No. 44 by All Star Report, No. 47 by Hoopmasters, No. 51 by Prep Stars and No. 52 by ESPNU … Special mention All-State by the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association in 2009.

Weber on Leonard: “I rarely have seen athleticism and mobility from a 7-footer like Meyers has. The progress he’s made over the last two years has been impressive. He reminds our staff of James Augustine with that same ability to run the floor as a big man. He began his high school career as a guard but had an incredible growth spurt and then transitioned to center. I’ve known Coach Coffman for a long time. He does a great job and feels that Meyers has the ability to help Robinson contend for a state title this season.”