Illinois basketball schedules visit with Wilkes

Illinois+head+coach+John+Groce+watches+his+team+from+the+sidelines+during+the+game+against+Iowa+at+the+State+Farm+Center+on+February+7.+The+Illini+lost+77-65.

Illinois head coach John Groce watches his team from the sidelines during the game against Iowa at the State Farm Center on February 7. The Illini lost 77-65.

By Matt Gertsmeier, staff writer

Kris Wilkes, a five-star basketball recruit from Indianapolis, has scheduled an official visit with Illinois on the weekend of Sept. 9.

Reports about the visit originally came in Aug. 24 from various recruiting Twitter accounts and was confirmed via 247sports.com. Wilkes has also set visits for UCLA on Sept. 23, Indiana on Sept. 30 and Connecticut on Nov. 4.

Xavier is scheduled to visit Wilkes’ home Sept 13.

Illinois, Indiana, UCLA, Connecticut and Xavier represent Wilkes’ top-five schools.

His November visit with Connecticut hints that Wilkes is nowhere near a decision, but that can change. Villanova guard Jalen Brunson had visits scheduled for Temple, Michigan State and Purdue in 2014 but made his decision after visits with only Illinois and Villanova.

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    Wilkes would be a gem of a recruit for Illinois to land and would be the most acclaimed of head coach John Groce’s class of 2017. He is ranked No. 17 and listed as the fifth-best small forward in the nation.

    Listed at 6-foot-7, 190 pounds, Wilkes has a strong tendency to pound the ball with force in the paint and finish at the rim. While a majority of his scoring comes from down low, Wilkes possesses a solid shooting form and can stretch the defense with his mid-range jumper.

    With his ability to shoot from mid-range, it would be nice to see Wilkes extend that range and light it up from beyond the arc. Highlight tapes and recruiting scouts make it apparent that three-point shooting might not be one of his strong suits. Scout.com lists three-point shooting as one of Wilkes’ areas to improve.

    Luckily with Wilkes’ solid shooting fundamentals, extending his three-point game can be done. Imagining Wilkes equipped with the ability to shoot from deep might make him one of the best, if not the best, recruits in the class of 2017.

    Another asset of Wilkes’ game is his length and leaping ability. While most highlight tapes tend to focus primarily on offense, some of Wilkes’ videos showcase his ability to block and alter shots. This would definitely help boost the Illinois’ class of 2017, which consists primarily of guards.

    Wilkes plays for the Indy Hoosiers AAU team and is teammates with point guard Paul Scruggs, another target for Illinois’ class of 2017. Scruggs is heavily considering five schools, four of which Wilkes is also considering – Illinois, Xavier, Indiana and Connecticut. Scruggs’ fifth school is Michigan State.

    There has been no word if Wilkes and Scruggs plan to commit to the same school, but with their experience playing AAU together, it is still considered a high possibility. But with three guards in the Illini’s class of 2017, it is unlikely that Illinois will continue to make a strong push for Scruggs. Scruggs visited Connecticut this weekend and has no other visits scheduled.

    The last visit to Illinois during this fall was four-star guard Trent Frazier. Groce had quite the weekend prepared for Frazier that weekend. Frazier met Illini football head coach Lovie Smith, played forward Malcolm Hill in a game of one-on-one and shadowed Illini basketball’s director of player development Dee Brown.

    During the weekend of Wilkes’ visit, Illinois football hosts North Carolina for an evening game Sept. 10. It is rumored that Illini commits Javon Pickett, DaMonte Williams and Jeremiah Tilmon will be in attendance.

    Matt is a junior in Business.
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    @MattGertsmeier