There’s still no official word that Jamall Walker will remain with Brad Underwood’s staff. There’s no reason to believe he won’t.
The other positions? We don’t know.
Walker’s retention was considered vital to the retention of St. Louis-area recruits. That’s part of his territory, as is Texas, where Brad Underwood already has plenty of contacts.
Has Walker been the best Illini recruiter over the past five years?
The two breakout players this season were scouted by Paris Parham and Dustin Ford. Ford’s assigned territory includes Ohio. Parham’s area includes Wisconsin.
As America’s coaching fraternity packs for a trip to Phoenix this week, many of them don’t know where they’ll be working next week. But they’ll probably find out soon.
Parham will be in Phoenix and, until anyone tells him otherwise, he says he’ll be there as a representative of the University of Illinois. The airfare and accommodations were booked long ago, but the staff is not traveling together.
Should Parham be retained based on his contacts with up-and-coming recruits? If not, who else would be Illinois basketball’s “Chicago Guy?”
Stephen Bardo cautions Illini fans eager to bring back one of their own.
It’s tough for anyone to hire another coach if they don’t have an existing relationship. That’s one of the reasons why Jamall was kept, he had a really good previous relationship with Underwood. We’ll see what happens but in the meantime it would be wise for Deon, Roger Powell, Jerrance Howard, and Dee Brown to start to develop a relationship with Josh Whitman and Brad Underwood.
Walker downplayed the earlier relationship. “We knew each other but it wasn’t like we were boys. However, we knew some of the same people back in Kansas.”
Who are those folks back in Kansas? Well, if you didn’t know, Jamall Walker is a Wichita native. Underwood recruited his older brother.
Underwood remembers it differently, at least for public consumption. i.e. he didn’t talk about meeting Jamall’s brother.
He talked about recruiting Jamall himself.
Walker didn’t name names, but he offered this observation about the forthcoming Underwood staff:
We have talked a little about the assistant coaches and he is going to hire who he thinks gives us the best chance to win and get good players from the state and in other regions that a guy can tap into. You have Bret Just on your side and that is key.
If you haven’t been following every bit of Underwood minutiae, here’s what Jamall means by “Bret Just.”
According to a source within the program, the “Chicago Guy” probably won’t be Dennis Gates, either. Whatever level of interest Illinois expressed, it doesn’t seem to have been reciprocated
Two names that have come up are Emanuel Dildy & UIC assistant Ronald “Chin” Coleman.
Dildy is the cousin of Chicago State’s head coach Tracy Dildy. The Dildy name is well-known in Chicago Hoops circles. Emanuel spent three years as an assistant at Loyola Chicago before joining Kim Anderson for one last disastrous season in Columbia. Like Walker, Dildy is a guards coach. But don’t be surprised if the next staff, like the Groce administration, features four point guards. (Note though that UIC’s bio for Coleman says that during his first season at UIC, Coleman helped sophomore forward/center Tai Odiase “develop into one of the top rim protectors in the country.”)
Coleman interviewed with John Groce for Isaac Chew‘s job in the summer of 2012. That job went to Parham.
Coleman instead joined Tim Miles at Nebraska for six months, as Director of Player Development. (He’d been an assistant coach for Miles at Colorado State.) Then he joined Dustin Ford’s brother Geno for one year in Peoria, orchestrating the final demolition of Bradley Braves basketball. Coleman worked with Thomas for a year under Steve McClain at UIC From 2005-11, Coleman was the head coach of Chicago’s Mac Irvin Fire AAU team.
And speaking of Steve McClain, his assistant coaching position at Indiana was filled by former Illini star Rob Judson, who is also available for hire. Judson is arguably the most successful assistant of the last quarter century, having helped both Lon Kruger and Bill Self to B1G championships.
The assistant positions might be finalized by this afternoon. Maybe they’ll be finalized in Phoenix, over the weekend.
Then again, remember how this worked five years ago. The Illini athletic director promoted the ace recruiter to the interim position. The new head coach did not retain him. Two of the new head coach’s initial hires departed Champaign almost immediately. A third left within a year.
Whatever happens in Phoenix doesn’t stay in Phoenix.