East St. Louis High All-State 6-foot-10 center Jeremiah Tilmon on Wednesday asked for a release from his University of Illinois basketball letter of intent via his own Twitter account.
NCAA rule would allow for the release since he was recruited by John Groce, who was first as Illinois’ head coach on March 11. New coach Brad Underwood retained Groce assistant Jamal Walker, who was instrumental in getting Tilmon’s commitment.
Walker may remain a factor: The message did not seem to rule out the Illini as Tilmon’s potential college destination. With him and Belleville East forward Javon Pickett, the Illini recruiting class ranks in the top 15 nationally.
“My family and I feel it’s only fair that we hear all opportunities and not be stuck in one situation,” Tilmon posted on his Instagram account. “We will wait patiently on the release from the NLI. Illinois will always remain and option because of my ongoing relationship with coach Walker, but this is my future and I need to be certain before I come to campus in June.”
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Other possibilities for Tilmon would seem to include the University of Missouri, where former East St. Louis Lincoln standout Cuonzo Martin was recently named head coach.
He also had offers from North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan State, Indiana, Texas and UCLA.
Tilmon verbally committed to the Illini last July, then signed with the school in November. As recently as Monday, Tilmon retweeted his own tweet from last summer when he committed to the Illini. It read “blessed to stay home.”
Tilmon averaged 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds this season for the Flyers along with 95 blocks. East St. Louis (18-8) lost to Belleville West in the regional.
Intrigue has followed Tilmon even throughout his high school career.
He departed East St. Louis following his sophomore year for La Lumiere School in LaPorte, Ind. No sooner did his first season there end before the rumor mill began heralding his return to the metro-east, maybe even at Althoff.
Rumors were confirmed in part on Aug. 15, when he enrolled for the fall semester at East Side. He told the News-Democrat at the time he had made contact with Althoff about the possibility of playing for the defending state champion Crusaders, a conversation confirmed by coach Greg Leib.
Then he kept Illinois basketball fans on pins and needles, waiting until the last day of the early-signing period to put his commitment to Groce and the Illini in writing. Fans feared he was intent to follow summertime teammate and Althoff forward Jordan Goodwin to Saint Louis University.
Information was contributed by BND sports editor Todd Eschman and wire reports