Phil Pash's Simply Sports: Illini edge fails to pay on Scheyer

The Illinois prep basketball star many top programs were seeking said May 17 he is going to Duke, which crushed Illinois since Jon Scheyer’s coach is the brother of the Fighting Illini’s Bruce Weber.

Scheyer of Glenbrook North High School was quoted by the Chicago Tribune: “I’m a big student of history and tradition. What better place to go to than Duke? And there is no place to play like Cameron Indoor Stadium.”

Ouch. Scheyer has one more season at Glenbrook North, where Dave Weber is his coach. The 6-foot-6 two-time All-Stater averaged 33.5 points during the state tournament to lead his team to the Class AA title in March.

“I was being recruited by colleges before my freshman year, and coach (Dave) Weber helped with all those letters and phone calls and took time away from his family to deal with all that,” Scheyer said at a news conference at Glenbrook North. “He taught me so much about basketball, and I wouldn’t be the player I am today without him.

“It was tough telling him. But I had to follow my heart.”

Weber was not at the news conference, the Trib reported, because of a prior commitment to go on a field trip with his daughter.

“It was tough hearing stuff about being a savior,” Scheyer said about the pressure of going to Champaign as Bruce Weber’s signature recruit. “Illinois is a great program, and a lot of top recruits will go there. It’s kind of silly thinking I was going to be a savior.”

It’s the second time in Weber’s two years as Illinois’ head coach that he has lost a coveted in-state recruit to Duke, said the Tribune.

About six months after Weber was hired to replace Bill Self, Illinois was a finalist for Shaun Livingston, who ended up signing a national letter of intent with the Blue Devils in November 2003 before ultimately opting for the NBA straight from Peoria Central High School.

Last fall, Homewood-Flossmoor senior Julian Wright committed to Self at Kansas without visiting the school, the Trib said. Illinois had been a finalist.

Last season the Fighting Illini notched a Big Ten record in victories (37-2)while becoming the eighth different Big Ten team to compete in the national championship game.

Weber led Illinois to its second consecutive outright Big Ten crown for the first time since 1951-52 and its fourth title in five seasons. He also became the first coach in Big Ten history to earn Coach of the Year from eight national media organizations.

Richard Semrau, power forward at Lutheran West High School in Rocky River, Ohio, became the first verbal commitment to Illinois for the class of 2006, said Copley News Service.

He is a 6-foot-9, 215-pounder who averaged 23 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and two assists while leading Lutheran West to a 22-1 record last year. He played through a sprained knee, sprained ankle, bronchitis and a respiratory infection to lead his team to its first undefeated regular season in school history.

Semrau made unofficial trips to Louisville, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Kentucky, and was planning an official visit to Florida, said Copley.

At the end of the record-setting 2004-05 season, Illinois knew it was going to lose seniors Luther Head, Roger Powell Jr., Jack Ingram, Nick Smith and Fred Nkemdi.

There also was a lot of talk junior guards Deron Williams and Dee Brown would opt for the NBA draft. They have, and Williams has signed with an agent, which means he is done with college ball.

Brown has not signed with an agent, which means he could return for his senior season. But that seems unlikely based on some of his recent comments. He has until June 21 to make a final decision.

Williams is projected as a first-round pick June 28, Brown is not.

So, Illinois will have seniors-to-be 6-foot-10 James Augustine (Lincoln-Way HS) and 6-8 Marcus Arnold (Illinois State); juniors-to-be 6-9 Warren Carter, 6-3 Rich McBride (Springfield Lanphier) and 6-7 Brian Randle (Peoria Notre Dame); and sophomores-to-be 6-4 Calvin Brock (Chicago Simeon) and 6-8 Shaun Pruitt (Aurora West). Carter, the only non-Illinois product, is from Dallas, Texas.

Later this summer, coach Weber will lead the Big Ten Basketball Foreign Tour men’s team to Spain Aug. 9-19. Any good Spaniards?

From the May 25-31, 2005, issue

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