Hoop Du Jour September 8 Edition
The Illini football team is in Kansas this weekend, so there won’t be a host of visitors, but the weekend of Sept 16th is setting up nicely for the Illini. Let’s look at a few of the visitors in this edition of Hoop Du Jour
-Coveted 2024 prospect Mikey Lewis will make his official visit and the Illini are in a pretty good position here. There has been a lot of talk about LSU leading and Illinois being in 2nd, but there may have been some movement on that front recently. LSU assistant coach Cody Toppert, who was leading the charge for Lewis, took a job as the head coach of the Washington Wizards G League affiliate, Capital City Go Go, and that has shaken this recruitment up a bit and allowed Illinois to move into pole position with this first visit. Lewis is an athlete with dynamic speed and quickness that we have not seen a lot of at Illinois and he can play either guard position. His shooting is streaky, but when he takes clean looks he is a very good shooter. Here’s a look back at his 40 point performance from earlier this year on the EYBL circuit.
-Illinois will meet this weekend with 2024 G Jase Butler as well. This is a player they have liked for a while, and feel like he is going to be a really good player in college. He does not have a visit date yet, but they should solidify that this weekend. The 6’4 Guard has a sweet lefty stroke and is a physical point guard in the mold of Deron Williams or Jalen Brunson. Personally, this is a kid that is wildly underrated. Check out some summer highlights below.
-The question becomes what happens with Jeremiah Fears? The 2025 Guard is a tremendous talent now attending AZ Compass Prep. Fears wants to move into the class of 2024, but the difficult part is that generally speaking players that reclass tend to struggle early on. So it’s currently a bit of quandary for Illinois and Fears. There is zero question from anyone about his obvious talent, but both sides need to figure this one out. Stay tuned.
-Some more expected visitors on Sept 16.
-6’0 PG Taylen Kinsey out of Kentucky is one of the top guards in the class of 2026. As A Freshman at Newport (KY) he led them to 33 wins.
-6’7 Wing Gabe Weis out of Washington County (KY) is a 2026 prospect with a slew of high major offers already.
-6’5 Guard Braylon Mullins out of Greenfield (IN) is a 2025 prospect that was one of the leading scorers on the Adidas circuit with Indiana Elite.
-6’7 Wing Braylon Langley out of Evansville (IN) Reitz is also expected to attend. The 2026 wing has blown up a bit of late and Illinois has been working him.
-We expect to add more visitors to this list in the coming week
-2024 Illinois commitment Jason Jakstys is planning to take his official visit the weekend of Sept 23rd, in conjunction with the Florida Atlantic football game.
-2024 Illinois commitment Morez Johnson has been invited to the USA Basketball MiniCamp in October. His rise up the rankings continues and the people at USA basketball have noticed. Illinois Guard Ty Rodgers was a key piece to the USA Basketball Gold Medal team in the summer of 2022. Johnson is hoping to be on the team in 2024.
-I hear that Illinois has done a good job early on 6’9 PF Nikola Bundalo out of Ohio. Duke, Ohio State and everyone else now involved, but the Illini have made a good early impression on the 5 star Forward in 2025.
-How good was the visit for 2026 PG Dezhon Hall last weekend? Let’s just say it couldn’t have gone much better. Hall attended with his father and they were blown away by what they saw and the Illini are right at the top of this recruitment now, although it's still early. Notre Dame, Northwestern, Michigan State and Ohio State are also involved early on.
-Illinois has pretty much moved on from 2024 shooter Jaiden Glover. The 6'6 wing is likely headed to St. John's.
-The Illini women pulled out all of the stops for coveted 2024 Guard Aaliyah Guyton out of Peoria last weekend. Team dinner at Coach Green's house, a jumbotron at Memorial Stadium, tailgating, hooping and I'm not sure they could do much more. Now they wait to see what happens.
-Last week we looked at Freshman Guard Nicco Morretti, and this week we are going to look at Freshman Forward Amani Hansberry. The 6’8 big man had a nice trip over in Spain as he adjusts to life in college. After a slow first game that had him with just 2 points in 11 minutes, he rebounded with 13 points and 9 rebounds and 19 points and 11 rebounds in the final 2 games. As we saw during his time in High School and AAU, he just has a nose for the ball and is a tremendous rebounder and is skilled around the hoop. His issue has always been more about conditioning and adding that vertical burst to his game, and he has made massive strides under Adam Fletcher. Originally, there was concern about adding a frontcourt piece with their final scholarship, but with the emergence of Hansberry the Ilini feel good about him acting as a backup to Dain Dainja and then developing his perimeter game to have the versatility to play both the PF and Center positions down the road.
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