While new Illinois Fighting Illini coach John Groce heads to Champaign with a reputation as a good Big Ten recruiter dating back to his days as an assistant at Ohio State under Thad Matta, some of the state's most influential AAU coaches are apparently unhappy with Illinois' hire. One of those men is Mike Irvin, the AAU coach of the most highly sought after recruit in the country, Simeon Academy forward Jabari Parker.
Here's what Irvin had to say about Illinois' decision to hire Groce:
"I got two words – good luck," said Mac Irvin Fire coach Mike Irvin, whose current players include nationally-ranked junior Jabari Parker and sophomore Jahlil Okafor. "I don’t know him. I’ve never met him. I don’t know who he is. Really the past 4-5 years, we’ve had high-major players in our program, so we never crossed paths with him."
Irvin isn't alone in the sentiment. Curie high school coach Mike Oliver coaches one of the nation's top in-coming juniors -- forward Cliff Alexander -- and he also isn't pleased with the choice of Groce:
"I never heard of him in my life," Oliver said. "I don’t know who he was. I understand he’s the head coach of Ohio. I think it’s very disappointing. Personally, I don’t know his background. I don’t think that’s a big upgrade with what we had. I think we’re back in the same situation or worse than when we had coach (Bruce) Weber."
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