Silence Surrounds Saluki Hoops Verbals

St. Louis vs. SIU

It's October 1, do you know where your verbals are?

Surprisingly for the Southern Illinois University men's basketball team, they are not anywhere to be found at this point.  Signing day is a little more than a month away and there has yet to been a peep from anyone anywhere in regard to the Class of 2010.

Unless the Salukis suffer from a mid-season departure, which would be very surprising at this point, the team will only have one available scholarship as Iowa transfer Tony Freeman is the squad's only senior.

In regard to the Class of 2010, I get asked about four players in particular.  Your precious answers are after the jump.

JORDAN THRELOFF

Therloff is a 6-10 center from DeKalb, Ill., who would be an absolute catch for the Salukis.  Unlike many kids his age with his size, Threloff is somewhat of a polished product that could be productive out of the shoot.

For SIU to land a player of his caliber, head coach Chris Lowery will need to outduel fellow Missouri Valley Conference schools such as Drake and Illinois State, not to mention mid-major up-and-comer Western Kentucky. And at this point, Southern looks like it's on the back burner.

However, there are two major issues with Threloff.  And the problem is, it is the same issue that plagues a lot of Southern Illinois, as well as other mid-major recruits.

Where's the BCS schollie at?  Whether the kid has a dream school or feels that he could do much better than playing for a Goliath-slaying upstart, it seems as if all of these kids have dreams of playing for the big boys.  Sometimes, the big boys get their catch.  At that point, the player becomes one of two things.  A role player in two or three years, or in most cases, buried on the bench as a has-been or a never was.

(See: Josh Tabb.)

DePaul has offered, but despite them being in the Big East, I fail to recognize my mother's alma mater as a BCS School.  (Hope she doesn't read this or she might change the locks on me.)  Iowa was once in on Threloff, but the mass exodus that has taken place in recent years might (and should) scare him off.

Then there's playing time.  Better yet, the lack of it.  The opposition will use the fact that Threloff might be lost among the trees Southern already has planted in its frontcourt.  Carlton Fay will be entering his senior year and the ever-so-talented former four-star recruit Anthony Booker and Nick Evans will be a juniors when Threloff is a freshman.  The frontcourt finds itself a little more crowded when taking into consideration South Florida/prep school transfer Eugene Teague will be a sophomore, while Jordan Myers could join him or be held back as a redshirt freshman -- a tactic that has been popular throughout Southern's successful runs in the Valley.

PHILLIP JACKSON

Another talented big man that could help bring SIU some frontcourt depth.  But how much is depth worth when it comes with a headache.

At 6-foot-9 with ties to the Mac Irvin Fire, which is operated by the father of the Salukis' top assistant Lance Irvin, Jackson seems to be a shoe-in for a Southern scholarship.  Not so fast.  There are too many red flags in my eye that need to be answered before I go jumping for joy upon hearing a verbal from this kid.  He has been rumored to change AAU programs and high schools like an indecisive girlfriend changes her stance on your best friends.

Jackson is another one of those cats looking for the bigger offer and could get one based on potential alone.  But would likely fall into the pay-no-mind list once he steps on one of the big boys' campus.  And honestly, does SIU want any more distractions in light of the recent Ryan Hare saga?

MIKE MCCALL

McCall might be the most intriguing prospect for the Salukis.  He's a city boy who would seem to be the perfect fit in the Saluki backcourt.  But once again, he falls under the "I want a bigger fish" tree as he continues to search out a BCS offer.

And like Threloff and Jackson, McCall has to look at SIU's situation and weight the possibility of being lost in a crowded backcourt.  SIU will return Kevin Dillard, Justin Bocot, Kendal Brown-Surles, Jack Crowder and John Freeman -- and probably Hare.  The good news is that Southern is always a guard-oriented team, and Lowery has shown at times, a willingness to run a four-guard set.  As much as everyone wants to have a towering front court, there is no denying the Salukis' strength has been in their guard play.

DEANDRE MCCAMEY

This might be the wild card for SIU.  McCamey spent most of last season injured, so to not hear him offer up a verbal yet is the least surprising of the four names I get asked about the most.   We might not hear anything from him for a while -- or at least until the high school hoops season kicks off.

The last I've heard on the situation is that the Salukis are still "in" with McCamey.  The would be quite a grab for SIU -- and if he is a little apprehensive in regard to his injury it could play into the Salukis' hands.  Just throw a redshirt on him and watch him grow.

THE ALTERNATIVE

This is the part that might start a sh*tstorm, so prepare yourself.

There is a distinct possibility that SIU does not even use the scholarship in 2010.  (Cue the fearful screams.)  Lowery and his staff might hold onto the scholarship for the highly touted 2011 class.  Contrary to popular belief, this might be a good idea.

Questions Saluki fans need to ask are as follows:
  • Where do you put a freshman guard in 2010? Do you start him in front of Dillard, Bocot, Brown-Surles, Crowder, Freeman or Hare?  All of those guys will be juniors or seniors in 2010. They can find themselves in the rotation, but could be a malcontent if they don't get the playing time they think they've earned as a freshman.
  • Where do you put a freshman forward?  Booker is set to have an excellent sophomore year, as is Evans.  Teague needs minor work and could be a dominant force when he is a junior or senior.  You're not starting a freshman over Carlton Fay during his senior season.
Right now, I don't blame Chris Lowery if he let the scholarship run over to the 2011 season.  Other than Hare's misstep, SIU seemed to gel this offseason -- and with a favorable schedule ahead of itself -- should be in line to flip its 18-loss 2008-09 season into at least an 18-win year in 2010.

Such a year could help SIU reign in a recruiting coup in 2011.

0 comments: