Analysis & Commentary: Jeremiah Tilmon Situation Could Warrant An Investigation

By Roy & Harv Schmidt

November 9, 2016

2:30 P.M. CST

Illinois Prep Bulls-eye still believes that National Signing Day is hands down the most overrated day of the year when it comes to college basketball recruiting.  That said, it is highly unfortunate that it seems every year when that day rolls around, the biggest story involves a top-tier recruit either reneging or wavering over a previous commitment.  It's also no small coincidence that more often than not it involves a recruit who has been linked in some capacity to the University Of Illinois.

This time around the recruit in question is Jeremiah Tilmon, the 6'10 2017 center from East St. Louis.  Tilmon committed to the Illini and head coach John Groce back in July.  Groce and his staff had been recruiting Tilmon since 8th grade, were the first D1 school to offer him a scholarship and as a result virtually everyone had long considered Tilmon to be an Illini lock.

However, shortly after Tilmon's commitment some red flags emerged which caused many to question the legitimacy of Tilmon's commitment and left them wondering if it ultimately meant that he could end up reneging.  To begin with, Tilmon announced that he was leaving La Lumiere School in LaPorte, IN (where he played last season) to move back to his hometown in East St. Louis and attend high school there.

Why did this raise concern among Illini fans?  Well, for one, it had been widely documented that the primary reason for Tilmon going to La Lumiere was that it could help him improve his academic standing in order to meet NCAA requirements and be eligible to play college basketball as a freshman.  

Furthermore, by moving back home, it put him right in the front yard of new St. Louis University head coach Travis Ford.  One of Ford's chief points of emphasis upon his arrival in St. Louis was his intention to keep top local high school talent at home.  In order to help accomplish that, he hired Corey Tate as one of his assistant coaches.  Tate is a former AAU coach who has extremely strong connections with many of the top boy's basketball recruits in the St. Louis metro area.  The move has already paid off, as Tate has been instrumental in helping Ford land commitments from 6'3 2017 2-guard Jordan Goodwin (who Tate previously coached) and 6'8 2018 power forward Carte'Are Gordon.

How does Tilmon fit into all of this?  Well, he and Goodwin are close--having played together on the travel team circuit for the St. Louis Eagles.  And ironically like Tilmon, Goodwin was also recruited hard by Illinois.  That said, it is no small coincidence that Goodwin committed to Ford and the Billikens shortly after Tate was hired.  And sure enough, it was then that the talk about Tilmon possibly flipping to St. Louis began to surface.

While the manner in which Goodwin's commitment came about certainly raised a lot of questions, we didn't think too much of it at the time and recognized that unusual circumstances can come about causing a recruit to change his mind.  But now things have come full circle with Tilmon.  That is because he has now said that he won't sign a letter of intent with Illinois during the Fall signing period.  Hmmm...we once again ask, coincidence?  We think not!

And because Tilmon is wavering over when he will sign, it has resulted in the Billikens' men's basketball program coming to the forefront yet again thanks to the St. Louis media and a fan base that is as deranged and irrational as one can be thinking this is the final nail in the coffin with respect to Ford being able to win over Tilmon and get him to flip.

Before we go any further, it is important to emphasize that until Tilmon says so himself, there may be no correlation between his indecision on when to sign his LOI and St. Louis University whatsoever.  It may be nothing more than a myth being perpetuated by the aforementioned group of people in the above paragraph.  

In fact, from what we already know, there could very well be a couple of other factors coming into play.  One is that Tilmon is supposedly worried about Groce's job security at Illinois.  But if that were the case, doesn't one think that would also have the same effect on the Illini's other three 2017 commits--Javon Pickett, Da'Monte Williams and Trent Frazier--all of whom signed their letters of intent today on the first day of the signing period?  Why the double standard?

There is also another scenario, one that we believe is a far more realistic one at this juncture.  With that in mind and without going into specifics, we simply remember what a close source told us over a year ago about some of the difficulties facing Illini recruiting: "lots of people don't realize just how difficult it is to get accepted into the University Of Illinois."

Hopefully, those who read this will recognize the impact of that quote.  But here's the thing, St. Louis University also has very high standards which leads us to ask this: with the way things currently are, wouldn't Tilmon face the same problem there that he would at Illinois?  And that is why we raise our eyebrows at how all of a sudden St. Louis has been able to lure recruits so quickly and suddenly.  Again, the common denominator in all of them is Tate.  And mark our word, he was not hired because of having a reputation of being an outstanding bench coach.  That is why if the rumors regarding the nature of St. Louis' involvement with Tilmon are true, it reeks with the smell of raw sewage and beckons for an investigation.

The bottom line is that Tilmon could prevent all of that from happening right now.  He needs to offer up an explanation of why he is handling things this way--the sooner the better.  We are not saying that he needs to immediately let the world know when and if he'll be signing a LOI.  There is still plenty of time for that.  But given the fact that Tilmon has always given the impression that he is loyal to Illinois through and through, as evidenced by the fact that he didn't visit any other schools in the time leading up to his commitment, he needs to realize that in the end there really is only one logical decision.  Hopefully he makes the right one.

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