Illinois won’t have Shaka Smart on the sidelines next season, tapping the rich Chicago hoops talent for the Illini.
So what now? How about a coach who knows that local talent as well as anyone?
This story from CSN Chicago features Simeon High coach Robert Smith stating his case for the Illinois job. After winning five stats titles in seven years, Smith says he understands how to coach talent and would “be interested” in the job.
It’d be a drastic jump – high school to the Big Ten?! – and more than a bold move for Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas. He’d be staking his job on it. The wild-card? Smith coaches Jabari Parker, perhaps the best college basketball prospect, regardless of class.
Here’s Parker’s take on the situation, from CSN Chicago:
“I pay attention pretty much a lot, because that would be a future coach I would be interested in playing for. If they happen to recruit me, then I have to do my research as a player to see where I can fit in their system.”
Parker went on to say that even though the Illini are currently coach-less, he’s still interested in the school because representing his home state is important to him, and if Smith were to get the job, it would be “special.” Steve Taylor, who committed to Marquette in the fall and is regarded as one of the top senior forwards in the country, echoed Parker’s comments and said he thinks Smith would be a good fit.
“[The University of Illinois] doesn’t really get kids from Chicago,” said Taylor. “If Coach Rob was to get that job, he would be able to bring in a lot of talent from Illinois.”
It’s a wild idea, but probably not one Thomas will consider. What AD would?
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