University Of Illinois Lands Pledge From Local 2014 Recruit
By Roy & Harv Schmidt
December 12 2012
2:45 P.M. CST
When your men's basketball program is currently 11-0 there is no question that recruits, especially in-state ones, are going to take notice. Such is the case as it pertains to the University Of Illinois at this time. And as a result, the Illini and head coach John Groce now have their first 2014 recruit in the fold.
We are talking about the fact that 6'9 2014 wing forward Michael Finke from Centennial High School in Champaign, IL committed to Illinois today while on an unofficial visit. Finke ended up choosing the Illini over scholarship offers from Purdue, Iowa, Kansas State and Wisconsin. His commitment has been confirmed by his traveling team coach Gavin Sullivan of the Peoria Irish.
Finke's recruitment started to take off during the July evaluation period as the result of him turning in a series of outstanding performances with the Irish. He won our Summer Award as the Sleeper Of The Summer as the result of his efforts. For a while some thought that Wisconsin might get an early commitment from Finke, as they were the first high major school to offer a scholarship. That is when Groce stepped in. He came forward with an offer to Finke at the end of September. In addition, the Badgers' future frontcourt now appears to be set as they have commitments from Vito Brown and Nigel Hayes in the 2013 class and from 6'7 wing forward Ethan Happ from Taylor-Rockridge High School in Rockridge, IL in 2014. The Illini were also able to hold off the efforts of Purdue and Iowa, who had turned up the heat on Finke considerably since the beginning of Fall with both schools having him on campus for visits.
While Finke had always been a recruiting priority for the Illini in 2014, he became even more of one after 6'7 wing Keita Bates-Diop from University High in Normal, IL opted for Ohio State last month. From that point on, Groce and assistant coach Paris Parham were relentless in their pursuit. They were both on hand to watch him at the Eaton Corporation Thanksgiving Tournament at Lincoln High School and their ability to get Finke on campus ASAP proved to be instrumental with respect to closing the deal.
Finke is an absolutely ideal fit for Illinois and the offensive system that Groce employs. That is because he is the perfect "pick and pop" type of big man who can excel in a motion offense. Comparison-wise, think of former Wisconsin forward Jon Leuer.
Skill-wise, Finke's value lies in his ability to stretch defenses due to him repeatedly being able to spot up and knock down shots from behind the 3-point stripe. Not only that, but Finke is also a consistent scorer in the paint, controls the backboards and is more athletic than people give him credit for.
Finke has proven that he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with all of the top wing forwards in Illinois from the 2014 class, a position that is absolutely loaded. He clearly ranks among the top 5 prospects in Illinois from the talented 2014 class and the #2 ranked wing forward behind only Bates-Diop.
Finke's commitment fills the only scholarship that Groce and the Illini had available in the 2014 class. However, we think chances are good that another spot could open up down the road. With that in mind, we can guarantee everyone that Groce will continue to recruit other top in-state 2014 prospects, including 6'9 power forward Cliff Alexander from Curie High School in Chicago, 6'9 center Sean O'Mara from Benet Academy in Lisle, 6'2 point guard Larry Austin from Lanphier High School in Springfield and possibly 5'10 point guard Tyler Ulis from Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, IL.
We welcome comments regarding this story or any other entry published by Illinois Prep Bulls-eye. They can be made by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continue to check in with Illinois Prep Bulls-eye for all of the latest as it pertains to recruiting and high school basketball in Illinois.