Illinois notebook: Aaron Bailey a huge win for Illini

John Supinie

CHAMPAIGN -- Months before the football season opener, Illinois coach Tim Beckman scored a victory that swept through recruiting circles over the weekend.

When four-star Bolingbrook junior quarterback Aaron Bailey committed to Illinois on Thursday, it gave Beckman's staff a marquee name that may attract more players. Let's give it some perspective. Bailey could be Beckman's version of Arrelious Benn or Martez Wilson.

"I don't think it can be overstated,'' said Josh Helmholdt, the Midwest recruiting coordinator at "Not only is Bailey a phenomenal talent at the quarterback position, other players want to play with top quarterbacks.

"He's a headliner for this class. Getting Bailey will help them attract other players to Champaign.''

Chicago-based analyst Tom Lemming and Helmholdt agreed: Bailey is one of the best athletes nationally in the class of 2013.

"He can be an All-American quarterback,'' Lemming said. "He can also be an All-American at other positions.''

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Bailey is the state's No. 5 recruit in his class, according to Lemming. Rivals put Bailey as the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback and No. 128 recruit nationally.

He ran for 149 yards and passed for 140 in a 21-17 win over Wilmette Loyola in the Class 8A state title game in November, capping a season where he had 1,983 yards rushing and 1,039 passing with 40 touchdowns.

"The question is he a true quarterback,'' Helmholdt said. "Does he play another position in college? I think he can play quarterback at the college level, but does he have more value at another position, maybe wide receiver or defense?

"As a quarterback, he's been very productive through his high school career. He's a big, strong kid. He's got a strong arm. He can definitely run with the football. He gives Beckman's staff a lot of options.''

BASKETBALL: The Illini expect a mid-week official recruiting visit from Sam McLaurin, the forward who received his scholarship release after averaging 10.0 points and 7.5 rebounds for Coastal Carolina last season. McLaurin would be a fifth-year senior and eligible immediately, similar to the transfer of Sam Maniscalco from Bradley.

McLaurin would give the Illini some depth inside, where the loss of Meyers Leonard to the NBA left a big void. Virginia, Drake, Alabama-Birmingham and Western Kentucky also made contact with McLaurin earlier in April.

Illini coach John Groce confirmed Prospect senior guard Mike LaTulip addition to the program as a preferred walk-on. LaTulip averaged 22.0 points, 4.0 assists and 2.7 rebounds last season while leading Prospect to a record of 17-9 and 7-3 in the Mid-Suburban League’s East Division. 

After leading Ohio to a school-record 29 wins, the Mid-American Conference Tournament title and upset wins over fourth-seeded Michigan and South Florida in the NCAA tournament, his peers voted Groce as the Ohio college basketball coach of the year over mentor Thad Matta of Ohio State. The vote was compiled by the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch.

BASEBALL: The Illini completed a three-game Big Ten sweep at Northwestern on Sunday to move into a four-way tie for fourth place in the conference standings with three series remaining. Illinois (25-18 overall, 8-7 in the Big Ten) hosts Southern Illinois on Tuesday and Michigan State in a three-game Big Ten series beginning Friday.

The first 2,000 fans Friday get free food, and the Illini will wear orange and blue camouflage jerseys for Honor and Serve Day on Sunday.

NOTABLE: Former NCAA champ Andrew Riley clocked a 13.55 to win the 110-meter hurdles at the Penn Relays Saturday. Senior Latoya Griffith highlighted theOrange and Blue’s performances on Thursday as she took first place in the 400 hurdles.

John Supinie can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @JohnSupinie.