The Saint Louis Billikens haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2014, but this off-season has provided SLU fans with plenty of expected excitement moving forward.
After firing Jim Crews in mid-March, the Billikens opted to hire for Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford. Ford made the NCAA Tournament in five of his eight seasons with the Cowboys and finished with a 155-111 record overall.
Then Ford went out and landed three transfers who each have two years of eligibility remaining, Michigan State forward Javon Bess, UCF guard Adonys Henriquez, and Rutgers forward D.J. Foreman.
The icing on the cake came on Friday as 2017 6’4″ point guard Jordan Goodwin committed to Saint Louis over Illinois (his hometown school), Alabama, Butler, Creighton, and Missouri, amongst others.
Goodwin is ranked 53rd in ESPN’s top 100 for the class of 2017, is the second ranked player in the state of Illinois, and is the 13th best point guard in the nation. The Althoff Catholic High School product has great size for his position and is one of the more physicality tough guards you will find on the recruiting trail.
The lead guard doesn’t back down from anyone, using his playmaking abilities, creativity, transition attacking style and slashing skills to keep the defense off balance. He is also a remarkable defender because of his effort, intensity levels and height.
Goodwin is the first member of Saint Louis’ 2017 recruiting class, and completes what is expected to be a really nice core group of players.
While Saint Louis will likely finish near the bottom of the Atlantic 10 in 2016-17, 2017-18 could be a breakout season with Bess, Henriquez, Foreman, Goodwin, Jermaine Bishop, Davell Robey and Aaron Hines and Jalen Johnson leading the way.
Ford has clearly put his foundational pieces in play for the start of what could be an impressive and complete rebuilding process.
Meanwhile, the Illinois Fighting Illini are scratching their heads. With Tracy Abrams out of eligibility following this upcoming season, the Illini are looking for a talented point guard to supplement their other young wing players (Jalen Coleman-Lands is the top player).
But instead of joining a program that competes in a Power Five conference and has had success in years past, Goodwin opted to join a team in a mid-major conference that has struggled to remain relevant, at least in recent years.
Sure, Illinois has a question mark with head coach John Groce and has underachieved the last two seasons, but they are still a program that is capable of building themselves out of their rut and still receive national attention in the Big Ten.
Illinois does have three committed members of their 2017 recruiting class though; four-star center Jeremiah Tillmon (who very well could save John Groce’s job), four-star shooting guard DaMonte Williams and non-ranked shooting guard Javon Pickett.
However, it’s an issue that Illinois cannot reel in a hometown recruit. They could have capped off their class with another monster addition, which in turn, would have set the a tone for both this season and next.
It’s all good times in Saint Louis.
Meanwhile, there is a bit of concern creeping in in Champaign.