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Bardo hears Illini could hire Groce soon

ESPN college basketball analyst and former Illinois star Stephen Bardo said Tuesday he's been hearing the same as Illini nation -- John Groce is going to be Illinois' next coach.

A Champaign News Gazette writer tweeted that a news conference is set for 3 p.m., but the school later said that's not true.

"I'm hearing John Groce may be hired today," Bardo said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "One thing (Illinois athletic director) Mike Thomas has done well through the search is he has been secretive. That's the word on the street. In terms of what I'm hearing, that could be the route Illinois intends to go."

Bardo thought Groce, who has been at Ohio for four seasons, could bring certain qualities to the position if he was named the coach.

"John Groce is a very energetic guy," Bardo said. "He relates to his players extremely well. He's a very good recruiter. He's come into the Chicagoland area and gotten D.J. Cooper, who is an outstanding players out of the south suburbs of Chicago. He's familiar with the landscape."

Despite Groce's positives, Bardo wasn't sold Groce was better than some other candidates.

"I just have concerns with the hire and the way it was done," Bardo said. "No knock on John Groce if he is the choice, but there were some other choices out there that I think might have been a better fit for the University of Illinois.

"I don't know that (the search) necessarily went wrong. It might have been out of the hands of Mike Thomas with the resignation of president (Michael) Hogan. It gives an appearance that the university is in an unstable situation. Guys come in and are trying to secure five- or six-year deals, if they don't know who know the president is, that can be a deterrent. So there's a lot of things that could come into play there.

"It was said (Florida State's) Leonard Hamilton, (Washington's) Lorenzo Romar, (Stanford's) Johnny Dawkins, all these types of people were approached. But it would concern me a little bit if those guys were really contacted, why wouldn't they look at Illinois serious?"