University of Missouri

East St. Louis center Jeremiah Tilmon requests release from Illinois

Former Illinois men’s basketball coach John Groce.
Former Illinois men’s basketball coach John Groce. The Associated Press

East St. Louis (Ill.) High senior center Jeremiah Tilmon has asked for a release from the national letter of intent he signed with Illinois in November.

Tilmon made the announcement Wednesday in a post on his Instagram account.

“My family and I feel it’s only fair that we hear all opportunities and not be stuck in one situation,” Tilmon wrote in the post. “We will wait patiently on the release from the NLI.”

Tilmon started by thanking Illinois but noted that he’d “signed to play for Coach (John) Groce,” who was fired March 11 and replaced by former Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood.

“Illinois will always remain an option because of my ongoing relationships with (assistant) Coach (Jamall) Walker but this is my future and I need to be certain before I come to campus in June,” Tilmon said in his post.

Walker was Tilmon’s primary recruiter from Groce’s staff and was retained by Underwood after he was hired March 18.

Tilmon must be granted a release before he can communicate with other schools or set up visits with other men’s basketball programs.

The 6-foot-10 Tilmon is a five-star recruit for Rivals, which ranks him as the No. 25 player in the country, and Scout, which pegs him No. 18 overall and as the nation’s No. 7 center.

He’s been dubbed a four-star prospect by ESPN, which ranks him No. 41 in the 2017 class and No. 6 at center, and 247 Sports, which lists him No. 36 overall and No. 9 at power forward.

New Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin is a native of East St. Louis.

The Tigers are expected to pursue Tilmon if and when he’s released by Illinois.

At the McDonald’s All-American Game last week in Chicago, Michael Porter Jr., who committed to Missouri on March 24, said he has been talking with Tilmon in hopes he’d join him next season in Columbia.

Tilmon averaged 15.3 points with 11.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks last season for East St. Louis, according to MaxPreps.

In addition to Illinois and Mizzou, Tilmon had offers from Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Michigan State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Saint Louis, Texas and UCLA, according to various recruiting outlets.

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer