Dillard, Booker to leave SIU

Once described by Southern Illinois coach Chris Lowery as the best recruiting class in the school's history, the Salukis' Class of 2008 has now completely vanished.

On Tuesday, Lowery announced sophomores Kevin Dillard and Anthony Booker asked for and were granted their releases from the program.

With the previous transfer of guard Torres Roundtree, who left midway through his freshman season, and the dismissal of forward Ryan Hare before his sophomore season due to criminal charges, all four members of Southern Illinois' recruiting Class of 2008 have now left the program. The class had been ranked among the top in the country by ESPN in 2008.

"Sometimes that happens in recruiting," ESPN national director of basketball recruiting Paul Biancardi said. "You never know the true value of a recruiting class until they play. On paper coming in, it was a very good one.

"Anytime you lose players, it's a loss. But only they know why they're leaving and the coach knows why they're leaving. Sometimes it can be addition by subtraction, and sometimes it can be subtraction that hurts a program."

Dillard, a 6-foot guard, averaged 12.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.1 steals as a sophomore. He started 27 games this past season. He was the 2008 Illinois Mr. Basketball and played at Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

Booker, a 6-8 forward, averaged 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds this past season. He started six games.

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.