Looks Like University Of Illinois - Greg Eboigbodin

Jun 06, 2017

Michael Finke. Leron Black. Those are the only two forwards on the Illini roster next year. Kipper, OK, kind of. Let's call him a 3/4. But when Finke or Black are in foul trouble, we're in trouble. So Brad Underwood set out to find a forward who could contribute some minutes in 2017/18, and he landed on Greg Eboigbodin.

Is Eboigbodin ready to contribute in a Big Ten game come January? Almost assuredly not. He grew up a soccer player in Nigeria, grew a little too tall for soccer, and moved to the United States to learn basketball. He had to sit out his freshman year at Detroit Jesuit (and was embroiled in an eligibility/transfer controversy), so he's only played three years of organized basketball. More backstory info is available here.

Take those two things - Brad Underwood is looking for someone, anyone, to take frontcourt minutes + Eboigbodin is a very raw athlete who is still learning the game of basketball - and you come away with "project recruit". Like, project project recruit.

Now, that can be good. Remember some guy named Robert Archibald? He moved to the States, played basketball at Lafayette HS in St. Louis, was added very late in Lon Kruger's second (third?) recruiting class, was virtually unknown in all recruiting circles... and ended up an NBA draft pick.

It can also end poorly. Late in the 2011 recruiting cycle, Bruce Weber desperately needed a big so he added Ibby Djimde that May. Djimde lasted two years before transferring (and never really played). CJ Jackson was another raw athlete who just never turned into a Big Ten basketball player (he ended up switching to football for a bit). Sometimes - the majority of the time, if we're being honest - the project never pans out.

And if I wasn't clear earlier, this is a PROJECT project project. 247 Sports has 465 players evaluated for the 2017 recruiting class - they rank Eboigbodin #440 out of 465. I'm nearly positive that's the lowest ranked player (form those composite rankings) we've ever landed. Might even be the lowest ranked player (on that list) to ever pick a Big Ten school. There's a reason he was headed to Illinois-Chicago before we offered.

And don't let the Pittsburgh offer fool you here. Pitt is down to two returning players (two!). At last check they had three incoming freshman, one incoming juco, and two returnees. That's a nightmare. They have seven scholarships to give right now, so they've probably offered every single 2017 player still available. Eboigbodin having a Pitt offer doesn't mean much.

But that doesn't mean this isn't worth the risk here. We have four available scholarships and we need bigs in the worst way. Brad Underwood probably searched the entire country for any big he could find and discovered Eboigbodin in Detroit. If our option is "turn to a walkon once Finke and Black are in foul trouble" or "turn to a 6'-9" freshman", I think it's the correct choice to add the project freshman. Even if that project freshman was a UIC-level player coming out of high school.

What's the most likely scenario here? Eboigbodin doesn't see the court much. A player ranked that low with offers that random is probably better off at a low-to-mid major. Yes, he's raw, and might grow by leaps and bounds under the correct tutorship, but if we're talking "likely scenario", it's that he's not a Big Ten player.

But it's worked before (hi there, Mike Davis). Davis was added in AUGUST, so June is early by comparison. There are always diamonds to be found if you look hard enough. For every one Mike Davis there are 10 Ibby Djimdes, but I can't rule out a surprise here.

What I must do, though, is assign the proper number of Tom Cruises. And yes, Eboigbodin, is going to receive the smallest number of Cruises I've ever given to a basketball player. He's a one-in-ten longshot, but hey, I made a half-court shot once.

(And one more time for good measure: I fully support bringing him in and think it really does fill a need for a big body, even if it's just for practice. I can't hand out many Tom Cruises, though, because this kid has a long way to go.)

Gregory Mike Eboigboden - one Tom Cruise. (But let's make that Tom Cruise large because this kid is 6'-9".)


larue on June 07 @ 10:22 AM CDT

Low rated for sure, but maybe not to a history making level. I think in 2016 they rated 393 players and #393 signed with Michigan. A couple of years before that IU signed the guy ranked 399.

Figure about 300 players sign with high major teams every year on average, somebody is going to be reaching to this level. And it's probably for guys with some size most of the time.

rhoskin22 on June 07 @ 10:28 AM CDT

He also received a Purdue offer a couple days ago.

Bear8287 on June 07 @ 01:24 PM CDT

Michael Finke. Leron Black. Those are the only two forwards on the Illini roster next year. Kipper, OK, kind of. Let's call him a 3/4.

Kind of? What number(s) would you give to a forward?

Is that like, "We only have two guards next year, Jim and Joe. John, OK, kind of. Let's call him a 1/2"?


ATOillini on June 07 @ 01:46 PM CDT

A very fair analysis. Can I just say I think we're overdue for a really pleasant surprise? Or do I have to just accept it's still a 1 in 10 longshot regardless of a long dry spell? Ok....don't answer that.

Hoppy on June 07 @ 03:03 PM CDT

I thought the Tom Cruises were not just talent/rating but also need and fit. He seems to be a fit (even if he is super raw) and I know him becoming good is a 1 in 10 long shot but I would think our need for tall people would bump him up higher than 1 TC.

ATOillini on June 07 @ 03:53 PM CDT

One other thing. Thanks for that link to the "backstory info". Any chance you can figure out how to hire Rachel Elliot from the 313? (sorry....couldn't resist that one)

Sweetchuck13 on June 08 @ 08:28 AM CDT

Totally agree he's a longshot, but I wonder if Underwood's style of play makes him more of a fit and perhaps worth 1.5 TC's. If we're going to push the tempo like Underwood wants, the fact that he's not an experienced post guy may not be as big of a deal. Maybe he can be an earlier contributor in this system compared to a more traditional post role.

Groundhogday on June 08 @ 02:12 PM CDT

Rankings below a certainly point don't really tell us much. Few national observers have even seen the 150+ guys play. That said, objectively it is hard to argue that this wasn't a spring reach.

I'd be interested to see stats on whether some coaches can consistently find and develop underrated guys into quality P5 players. There is some evidence that Underwood can do this, but we have probably only heard about the successes and not the reaches that didn't pan out.

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