Marquette fires Illinois-bound volley on Chicago recruiting trail

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It’s no secret that numerous Big Ten and Big East college basketball programs make recruiting Chicago for talent a heavy priority. In the sometimes no holds barred, highest-bidder environment of college coaches though, Marquette’s reported snagging of assistant coach Isaac Chew, after he had been on the job at Illinois for a month, is particularly notable.

Marquette coach Buzz Williams is known as one of the most persistent coaches on the recruiting trail, which apparently also extends to his assistants. Chew seemed to be set as the Chicago guy for Illinois, but that only lasted a month. Now, Williams has a potential force in Chicago in Chew, who originally went to Illinois from Missouri a short time ago.

What was originally lauded as a solid recruiting asset for new Illinois coach John Groce has now turned into a back to the chalkboard moment, as Groce will need to hit a home run to replace Chew in the coming weeks. There’s an accurate clamoring that Illinois needs to be strong recruiting Chicago for the long-term success of their program. July’s evaluation period is just over a month away, and one would figure that a move will need to be made to be fully staffed for that onslaught of events.

With one Chicago-based newcomer on the roster next season in the top player in Illinois in 2012, forward Steve Taylor, and scholarship offers out to a handful of other players in Illinois, Williams no doubt has made the area a priority. With Chew, a former high school player in the Windy City, on the way to bolster his own constant recruiting efforts, Marquette is in good shape going forward recruiting-wise.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.