AAU coach: State's talent affects Illini job

Longtime Chicago-area AAU coach Larry Butler said Wednesday high-profile college coaches aren’t sold on the University of Illinois job because of in-state recruiting and the headaches involved in attracting Chicago’s players.

“It’s not attractive because what we have in our state right now,” said Butler, who coached Dwyane Wade, Andre Iguodala and Quentin Richardson, among others. “The quality isn’t there. So many people fuss over guys like [Kentucky freshman] Anthony Davis and [Louisville freshman] Wayne Blackshear getting out of town, but we’ve always had kids play in different places, and it wasn’t a big deal because we had other players across the state. Shannon Brown and Andre Iguodala went other places, and we still had Dee Brown and Luther Head go to Illinois.

“That’s the real deal. Talking to (VCU’s) Shaka Smart, (Duke’s) Chris Collins, (Nevada’s) Doug Novsek and other coaching candidates for Illinois, Southern Illinois and Eastern Illinois, this is what they’re all talking about. We were once a hotbed for talent, and we have fallen off big time.”

Butler points to the fact that there have been just four players from Illinois drafted since Derrick Rose went No. 1 in 2008. Patrick Beverley (second round, 2009), Evan Turner (first round, 2010), Iman Shumpert (first round, 2011) and DeAndre Liggens (second round, 2011) have been drafted since then.

Butler also believes college coaches now are less willing to play Chicago’s recruiting games.

“People don’t want to deal with all the guys around town -- the posse of people, the 2-3 players with each recruit,” Butler said. “The product isn’t worth going through all that. The product isn’t what it’s cut out to be. Recruiting here is overrated.”

Butler considers Jabari Parker to be one sure superstar in Illinois’ Class of 2013. After Parker, he believes current Illinois recruit Malcolm Hill is the state’s next big 2013 prospect. In the 2014 class, Butler considers Whitney Young center Jahlil Okafor and Curie center Cliff Alexander the premier players.

Butler believes the state’s drop in talent is due to the coaching at the high school and club levels.

“I just think right now we’re not doing a good job of developing our players across the state,” Butler said. “There are so many young coaches who think they know the game, but they don’t. Some of them think they invented the game. We got so many high school coaches who can recruit well, but they can’t coach well. Consequently, our state has suffered because of that.

“We have in-state colleges not playing a bunch of Illinois kids, and that’s a problem. Everyone is only playing 2-3 Illinois kids. The University of Illinois is the only school who played a majority of in-state players this year, and they’re the one who didn’t make the NIT or NCAA tournament. That goes to show our kids in Illinois aren’t prepared to play right away.”