Groce Getting Close With Elite Recruits Bodes Well For UI

Saturday’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) Back in July, after Simeon superstar Jabari Parker left the Illinois of his Top 10 list of potential college pitstops, I wrote that when it comes to basketball recruiting, second place truly is the first loser.

And it is.

But, hey, that doesn’t mean you always have to feel awful about it.

On Thursday, following a breakneck push by first-year Illini basketball coach John Groce and his staff to land point guard Demetrius Jackson of Mishawaka, Ind., the highly touted hoopster announced he was staying home to play for nearby Notre Dame.

Without a doubt, the news was a disappointment for Illinois hoops fans – and, naturally, for Groce & Co. Particularly so because probably, oh, about five Notre Dame fans truly care that Jackson is coming to South Bend, whereas an entire state would have rejoiced had he chosen to transport himself across Indiana’s seemingly impenetrable border to Champaign.

Nevertheless, the fact that Illinois lost the recruiting battle for Jackson with the Irish, who recruited him for three years, wasn’t a reason to feel bad about Groce. Rather, it would have been a reason to feel great about Groce if he’d been able to nab Jackson’s services after just five months of wooing.

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