John Groce

Chicago native Jaylon Tate commits to Illinois

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Illinois has landed their fourth commitment in the Class of 2013.

Jaylon Tate, a point guard who plays for Simeon High School in Chicago, committed while on an official visit to the campus on Thursday evening. He’s the back court mate of Kendrick Nunn, a top 75 recruit nationally, on Simeon and in the Meanstreets AAU program.

Top 100 swingman Malcolm Hill, another Illinois native, and Maverick Morgan round out the class.

Tate’s commitment is a bit of a surprise in that his stock had fallen off over the past year. Tate was a top 100 recruit when he transferred into Simeon, but he found himself playing as the sixth-man on that team. He was receiving mostly mid-major offers throughout much of the spring and the summer, but according to his head coach, Tate’s really come on strong in the fall.

“I think last year coming off the bench and not playing many minutes kind of knocked him out of the radar,” Robert Smith said. “We never questioned his ability. He didn’t have the spring and summer he wanted. He worked hard in the fall. I knew someone would take a chance on him if they saw in the fall. It just paid off for him.”

What may be more important for Illinois head coach than Tate’s commitment is the possibility of building a pipeline to the one of Chicago’s top producers of basketball talent. Nunn and Tate are far from the most famous players currently on the Simeon roster. That award goes to Sports Illustrated coverboy Jabari Parker, the nation’s No. 1 recruit, although Parker cut Illinois from his list over the summer.

Simeon also has a handful of talented underclassmen on their roster, kids that could eventually find their way to the Illini if that becomes the cool place for star Chicagoans to go.

Groce is still chasing five-star guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes, but landing a quality point guard in this class was important for him. The fact that he’s a product of Simeon HS is an added bonus.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

VIDEO: Duke’s Grayson Allen beats No. 7 Virginia at the buzzer

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia sparks come-from-behind win over No. 13 Louisville

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia (32) goes up for a shot over Boston College’s Idy Diallo (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
(AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
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Demetrius Jackson scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half and Steve Vasturia scored 15 of his 20 points in the final 20 minutes as Notre Dame landed a 71-66 win over No. 13 Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half, but Vasturia’s hot shooting combined with Notre Dame holding Louisville to just 15 points in the final 15 minutes made all the difference.

The Fighting Irish are not as good as they were last season, but they are built in a similar mold. Jackson, as we expected, as become one of the nation’s most dynamic point guards, impossible to slow-down in isolation and ball-screen actions. Steve Vasturia emerging as a legitimate secondary option offensively and Zach Auguste is one of the nation’s most underrated big men and one of the most dangerous as the roll-man in ball-screens.

Combine all of that with a handful of shooters creating space and Bonzie Colson’s emergence as a force on the offensive glass, and Mike Brey once again has one of the nation’s most lethal offensive attacks.

Where they struggle is on the defensive end of the floor, which is what makes the end of Saturday’s win so meaningful. The Irish entered the day ranked 232nd in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which more or less means they’re as good as a bad mid-major program at keeping their opponents from scoring.

But they don’t have to be great to be able to win games.

They have to be good enough and they have to get important stops.

That’s precisely what happened on Saturday.

Whether or not that actually becomes a trend for this group will be something to monitor — it happened for Duke during last year’s NCAA tournament — but the bottom-line is this: Notre Dame does something better than just about anyone else in college basketball, and that’s score the ball.

On the nights they are able to gets some stops, they are going to be able to win some games. In the last eight days, they’ve proven that, beating North Carolina, Clemson on the road and Louisville.

And that makes them dangerous in March.