If Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber wouldn't have taken transfer Sam Maniscalco last spring, the former Bradley point guard would likely be somewhere else in the Big Ten Conference.

CHAMPAIGN -- If Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber wouldn't have taken transfer Sam Maniscalco last spring, the former Bradley point guard would likely be somewhere else in the Big Ten Conference.


Yet Weber isn't sure he likes the rule allowing players to transfer for a fifth year and graduate school without sitting out a season.


"If I was at a mid-major or a low-major, I wouldn't like it at all,'' he said Tuesday.


But Weber will be patient with the scholarship that opened when guard Crandall Head left the program after Christmas. Whether it's junior college help, a prep commitment or perhaps another transfer looking for a fifth year elsewhere, Weber will watch the development of his roster and perhaps any moves after the season before making a commitment.


"We're just putting out feelers now, seeing what's out there and what might become available,'' he said. "We're going to watch, wait and see what's out there.''


Weber doesn't expect the rule to change, so it's conceivable that he would add another experienced fifth-year point guard next season. Like Wisconsin looking for another quarterback, the Illini might need help after Maniscalco leaves. Illinois may also need depth inside if center Meyers Leonard opts to jump to the NBA.


Weber hoped to get 10 to 15 minutes from Maniscalco when No. 22 Illinois (15-3 overall, 4-1 in the Big Ten) plays at Penn State (9-10, 1-5) on Thursday (8 p.m., ESPN2).


DEVELOPMENT: Freshman Devin Langford is back at practice after a broken finger sidelined him until nearly Christmas in what's planned as a redshirt season.


The development of Langford, nevertheless, has Weber excited over the versatile 6-foot-7, 200-pounder from Huntsville (Lee) Ala., who is regarded as the team's best passer. He doesn't have the quickness to play point guard, so Weber will call Langford a point forward.


"He has a lot of natural instincts, the best natural instincts of anyone on the team,'' Weber said. "He sees things passing-wise and ballhandling-wise that other people don't.''


Langford made an impression with the coaching staff during the all-freshman practice sessions and getting more playing time in practice with Maniscalco sidelined and Head gone. Weber wanted Langford to watch Illinois wing Joe Bertrand, Michigan State's Draymond Green and Purdue's Robbie Hummel, essentially three other point forwards.


"We all feel pretty good about him,'' Weber said. "He's got to make major steps. He knows little of what we're doing. He's got a lot to learn. He gets you excited.''


NOTABLE: The sprained right wrist of Illini guard D.J. Richardson is about 95 percent healed. It's still tender, when he gets bumped or falls on it, but Richardson was stroking jumpers during the workouts Monday. ... Illinois expected to secure its first sellout of the season against Wisconsin Sunday. Only 100 singles remained Tuesday afternoon. ... Guard Brandon Paul was named the Oscar Robertson player of the week by the United States Basketball Writers Association after he finished with 43 points, eight rebounds and four blocks in the 79-74 win over Ohio State.


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