Welcome again to our simulated dynasty with the Western Illinois Leathernecks in Faculty Hoops 2K8. You will discover a full clarification of this mission + spoiler-free hyperlinks to earlier seasons right here. Try the introduction to this sequence from early April for full context. As a reminder, we simulate each recreation on this sequence and solely management the recruiting and training methods.
Earlier than we decide up with the Leathernecks within the first spherical of the NCAA event, right here’s a recap of every thing that has occurred to this point this season:
- Western Illinois went on a Cinderella run to win the nationwide championship as a No. 13 seed final season, our fourth title since I took over this system. Watch our “One Shining Second” video right here. We misplaced two starters from that group to the NBA, however enter the brand new 12 months with the remainder of the rotation nonetheless intact. By some means, we have been unranked within the preseason polls.
- We went 5-5 within the non-conference schedule, earlier than once more sweeping the Summit League and profitable the Summit League event. We got a No. 10 seed within the large dance.
- We recruited for 5 scholarships, touchdown four-star capturing guard Neil Modrovich out of Cleveland on the finish of the early signing interval.
Learn: Western Illinois, 12 months 24, 2030-2031
Right here’s a have a look at our roster coming into the NCAA event:
Championship-or-bust. That’s the objective as we put together for the 2031 NCAA event.
Our Leathernecks have 4 nationwide championships since I arrived in Macomb forward of the 2007-08 season, however we’ve by no means received in back-to-back years. This group is sweet sufficient to do it. We returned three starters, all on the perimeter, all now seniors.
Level guard Koko Reeves is the smallest participant in program historical past at 6-foot, however he silenced his doubters by offering knockdown capturing throughout our event run final season. Edwin Wolfe, a former five-star JUCO recruit, began the sport 7-for-7 from three-point vary towards UNLV within the Ultimate 4 final season. Wolfe additionally has a 95-rating in steals, which is the best on the group. Then there’s Jitim Dupree, the 6’10, 242-pound small ahead who went off for 30 factors or extra thrice throughout our run via the bracket. Dupree was named Ultimate 4 MOP for his efficiency, and will go down as maybe the best participant at school historical past if he powers us to a different title.
The questions come within the entrance court docket. J.J. Bracy and Dick Copeland have loads of pedigree — Bracy is the second-highest rated recruit in program historical past (No. 24 total), and Copeland’s A score in potential is our highest ever — however they nonetheless must show they’ll carry us on the most important levels. Each gamers are solely 6’8, so we aren’t as large as we have now been the previous few years once we’ve had 7-foot-plus facilities. How we deal with our lack of measurement inside will likely be one of many largest storylines coming into the event.
I can’t wait to see what we get from our younger bench. 6’5 level guard Alexis Willingham and 6’Eight wing Skip Clemmons each proved themselves as reliable gamers throughout our run via March final season, and must be even higher as sophomores. There’s additionally two thrilling freshmen who will likely be making their NCAA event debuts: 6’Three capturing guard Albert Jagla (the best rated recruit in program historical past at No. 17 total), and 6’11 middle Cecil Sinville (our first-ever No. 1 ranked middle prospect). We’ll want all 9 guys to perform our objective and win the title.
Our opponent within the first spherical of the NCAA event is No. 7 seed Pitt. We enter the sport as a 99 total, whereas Pitt is rated as a 91. Right here’s how the 2 groups matchup:
If we are able to win within the first spherical, we’ll possible face No. 2 seed South Florida within the spherical of 32. We blew out the Bulls throughout the common season, however they’re a gifted group who may definitely give us bother in a possible rematch.
We streamed the sport towards Pitt on Twitch on Monday night time. As all the time, I’m not controlling Western Illinois — we’re watching a simulated recreation.
We wish back-to-back titles. The journey begins right here within the spherical of 64 towards the Panthers. Let’s go!
Win, 100-93! Wow, I by no means anticipated we’d want an enormous second half rally simply to outlive the opening spherical, however that’s precisely what occurred. That recreation was hectic.
We have been down 75-65 with underneath seven minutes left after I took a timeout. We determined to shut with the true freshman Sinville at middle, with Dupree sliding as much as the 4, and Clemmons in on the three with our beginning guards. We wanted to an offensive surge, and it was our protection that offered it.
After Edwin Wolfe hit a 3 out of the timeout, we pressured a steal on the opposite finish that led to a Koko Reeves layup. We went into our full court docket trapping protection, and acquired one other steal that led to a Koko three. We pressured a steal once more off the guaranteeing inbounds cross that led to a layup for Jitim Dupree. Then it was Skip Clemmons time.
The 6’8, 240+ pound sophomore wing went off within the closing stretch, hitting three straight three-pointers to present us the lead for good. Clemmons completed with 21 factors, with virtually all of them coming within the second half. It’s so good to have one other large wing who can hit photographs coming off the bench. This group may not have a ton of measurement inside, however it does have a lot lineup versatility.
The top outcome was a 22-2 run that reworked the sport and gave us the win.
We received this recreation as a result of we caught hearth from three and have been in a position to pressure a bunch of turnovers on protection. The win did masks some actual points for us, although, most notably within the entrance court docket.
We’re simply not as stout within the center at both finish as we have now been previously. Copeland’s lack of measurement at 6’Eight actually hurts him. He completed with solely 4 factors and 6 rebounds, and didn’t have a lot a rim safety presence. Our energy ahead J.J. Bracy was strong, however he’s not large or dynamic sufficient to cowl up any shortcomings at middle the way in which Allen Cunningham as soon as was. I believed Sinville gave us some first rate minutes off the bench — he’s our largest participant at 6’11 — however he’s nonetheless a real freshman.
Listed below are the group stats from reader Tom:
I really feel extra relieved than inspired after that one. Not less than possibly we discovered the precise closing lineup? One factor is for positive: we’re undoubtedly going to want to straighten out our protection.
Subsequent up, we face No. 2 seed South Florida within the spherical of 32.
No. 10 seed Western Illinois vs. No. 2 seed South Florida, spherical of 32, 2031 NCAA event
We really confronted South Florida throughout the common season in a recreation we streamed on Twitch. We received that recreation simply, however USF’s total expertise degree was spectacular. I’m not shocked they ended up with a No. 2 seed.
It’s possible you’ll recall that USF is led by a created character from the winner of one in every of our bracket contests. Rudolpho Butt Jr. — an ode to a former assistant teaching goal we had years again — is now a 7-foot junior energy ahead who’s projected as a lottery decide within the NBA draft. He’s a three-level scoring menace who additionally gives rim safety on the different finish. It’s going to be a tricky matchup for our boy J.J. Bracy.
Right here’s a have a look at USF’s roster:
The Bulls enter the sport rated as a 97 total.
We streamed this recreation on Twitch. We’ve really by no means made it previous the spherical of 32 in years once we’ve been defending a nationwide championship. It’s time to alter that now. Let’s go!
Loss, 80-72. Our dream of repeating as nationwide champions dies once more within the spherical of 32. That is such a painful method to head into our offseason.
We simply couldn’t hit a shot within the second half. Typically, that’s all it comes right down to. Dupree — who was so sensible throughout final 12 months’s event run on his method to profitable Ultimate 4 MOP — was gunning till the top, however simply couldn’t catch a rhythm. He ended the night time 5-of-19 from the sphere, and 4-of-13 from three. With our greatest participant struggling, we wanted another person to emerge because the star of the night time, and it simply didn’t occur.
Bracy was notably dreadful going towards RBJ for a lot of the night time, ending 0-of-6 from the sphere. Copeland and Willingham have been nice within the first half, combining to attain 20 factors. They have been each just about invisible within the second half, combining to attain solely six factors out of halftime.
We tried messing with the lineups, and we experimented with completely different variations of our full court docket press, however we simply couldn’t make sufficient performs to win the sport. Full credit score to South Florida. They’d a whole lot of ballers on that group.
I suppose we are able to’t make a deep run yearly. It simply hurts as a result of this was the final recreation for Koko Reeves, Edwin Wolfe, and Jitim Dupree, all of whom have been so instrumental in our nationwide championship final 12 months. Robust method to exit, however I’m nonetheless excited for the way forward for this system. That is going to be an enormous offseason for recruiting. Let’s get into it.
- We’ve got co-winners of the bracket contest: Aaron Downs and Eric Judd. They gave me some enjoyable characters to create, which we’ll do in the beginning of the 12 months 25 stream.
- South Florida makes all of it the way in which to the nationwide title recreation, the place they lose to …. Maryland. That’s the Terps’ third nationwide title on this simulation, which is probably the most of any group that’s not Western Illinois. We’re caught on 4 titles for an additional 12 months.
- Dupree will get drafted, Reeves and Wolfe don’t. I actually suppose Jitim is one in every of our biggest gamers ever.
- Kansas, North Carolina, and UCLA are among the many faculties who supply me their head teaching job …. no thanks. We’re staying in Macomb.
- We misplaced an assistant coach and changed him with a man who has B- grades in offense and protection, a B+ grade in instructing, and A- self-discipline.
On the primary day of the spring signing interval, we land an enormous man: 6’9 middle C.J. Cesar out of Cincinnati is a Leatherneck.
Cesar is the No. 9 middle, and is rated because the No. 210 participant within the class. He’s the second participant we’ve landed on this class, after getting a dedication four-star capturing guard Neil Modrovich throughout the season. He provides us some badly wanted entrance court docket depth. We’re additionally chasing 7’2 middle Daron Coulter, so it’s doable Cesar finally ends up at energy ahead for us long-term. Both means, we’re excited to land him, and nonetheless have three different scholarships to fill.
Along with Coulter, we even have presents out to top-100 level guard Drake Amous and four-star capturing guard Theo Cowans. It isn’t going so nicely: Amous commits to BYU, and Cowans commits to Texas Tech. As we seek for backup plans, we get some excellent news: Daron Coulter turns into our third dedication of this recruiting class.
Coulter is the No. 7 total middle, and is rated No. 196 total on this class.
We’re thrilled to have a middle with elite measurement for the longer term, particularly since that was a weak spot of ours this previous season. I’m feeling actually good in regards to the three performs we have now locked down to this point, however we nonetheless have two scholarships left.
With solely two weeks left within the recruiting interval, we have now to work quick. I resolve to supply four-star capturing guard Alfred Soto, and three-star energy ahead Spanky Falls. Each select different applications throughout the ultimate day of the signing interval. Which means we’re rolling over two scholarships to subsequent 12 months, which isn’t the worst case state of affairs. We have been initially slotted to have zero out there scholarships subsequent season, as a result of we received’t have any seniors. Now there’s a pair of presents at our disposal if we discover some actually particular expertise.
As for our created gamers, Abby commits to Villanova, and Justin Kossak commits to NC State. We’ll comply with their careers all through our simulation.
It’s time to set the schedule for subsequent 12 months. That is what we resolve to go together with:
@ Illinois, @ Loyola (IL), @ Tennessee, @ SMU, @ Kansas State, @ South Florida, @ Boston Faculty, @ Virginia Tech
12 months 25
Right here’s a have a look at our roster for 12 months 25.
Our reserves from the final couple years at the moment are absolutely entrenched within the beginning lineup. I can’t wait to see what Willingham, Clemmons, and Jagla can do as our starters on the perimeter. I all the time cherished this junior class, and this will likely be their final season full collectively: Copeland is already projected as a prime decide within the NBA, which suggests he’s pretty much as good as gone after this 12 months. Willingham and Bracy are additionally projected first rounders. We’ll see what occurs there.
One factor we’re missing for the upcoming 12 months: depth. I consider we’re solely going to have an eight-man rotation. We’ll have one large (Cecil Sinville), one wing (Nic Cummings), and one guard (Goran Kent) off the bench.
We’re going to redshirt all three members of our incoming recruiting class. Right here’s how they graded out:
- SG Neil Modrovich: 74 total, A- potential. We’re thrilled to see Modrovich appears like he’s going to be superior. I consider it’s the primary time in program historical past we’ve had a guard with a possible score this excessive. Former No. 62 total recruit.
- C Daron Coulter: 75 total, C potential. Coulter has already grown an inch to 7’3, which suggests he’s the tallest participant in program historical past earlier than he’s ever performed a recreation. He must be a superb five-year large man for us. Touchdown him was a serious addition for our future. Former No. 196 total recruit.
- C C.J. Cesar: 74 total, B- potential. Cesar is transferring to energy ahead, the place he maintains as a 74 total. He’s restricted as an out of doors shooter (50 three-point score), however he’s already an A- in power, and appears like he’ll be an ideal offensive rebounder. Former No. 210 total recruit.
We’re going to stream the common season in 12 months 25 on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 8:30 p.m. ET on Twitch. Right here’s how one can watch it.
Learn how to watch Western Illinois’ 12 months 25 stream
What we’re watching: Western Illinois 12 months 25 common season stream. We’ll watch one common season recreation, recruit for 2 scholarships, and sim to the NCAA event.
Learn how to watch: My Twitch channel
Date: Sunday, Oct. 18
Tip-off time: 8:30 p.m. ET
I hope to see you there. Go ‘Necks.