We still don’t know how John Groce will pan out as a head coach at Illinois, but one thing is for sure as his first offseason wraps up — he can recruit. Groce closed out his 2013 class Monday with the signing of three-star power forward Austin Colbert. Colbert, a Gladstone, NJ, native, ranks as the No. 30 power forward in the country. He’s the fifth commitment of this class, joining four-star guard Kendrick Nunn, four-star guard Malcolm Hill, three-star center Maverick Morgan and three-star point guard Jaylon Tate. Scout ranks the class at No. 22 in the country.
While Colbert is a New Jersey recruit, this class as a whole puts to bed the myth that Groce cannot recruit Chicago. Nunn was a huge get for the Illini, and while Tate isn’t as highly regarded, the Simeon teammates established Illinois’ ability to recruit their area. The Illini were also in the top 10 for Simeon forward Jabari Parker, who is the nation’s top player, even though he has taken them off his list by now. They’re hitting Chicago hard in the 2014 class, too, with offers out to stars Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander and Paul White. Groce also proved he could recruit the rest of the state, retaining Malcolm Hill after he got to Illinois and looking at Kieta Bates-Diop and Larry Austin for the class of 2014.