2016 big man Nick Rakocevic ran with the 16U Mac Irvin Fire this past weekend at the Peach Jam in N. August, SC.
Rakocevic, and 6-foot-10 power forward from Westchester (Ill.) St. Joseph's, helped lead the Fire to a 2-2 record at the event.
"It went pretty well," Rakocevic said. "I thought we could have started off better as a team. I take some responsibility and have to be more of a leader. But overall, I had a fun and I think I played well."
John Groce and other members of the staff were at the event to check out Rakocevic and several other top Illini recruiting targets. The 17U Peach Jam is the finals of Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League.
According to Rakocevic, he keeps in close contact with Groce. He was on campus in Champaign for an unofficial visit in June.
"I talk to Coach Groce at least once a week," Rakocevic said.
Most consider Rakocevic the top player in his class in Illinois. Rivals.com ranks him a 4-star prospect and the No. 64 player national. Illinois offered Rakocevic back in February during his sophomore season at St. Joe's.
An unselfish player by nature, Rakocevic said he has to be more active offensively in the future. He deferred to teammates at the Peach Jam, focusing on rebounding and defense.
"I averaged about nine points per game," Rakocevic said. "I need to shoot the ball more and be more of an offensive threat. I only took about 5-6 shots a game."
According to Rakocevic, playing against top competition on the summer circuit has helped him develop a well-rounded game.
"I have really improved my pick and pop game, and spot up shooting," Rakocevic said. "And I averaged about seven rebounds per game."
Besides the Illini, Rakocevic holds offers from Creighton, Indiana, Iowa, Miami (Fla.), Northern Illinois, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Xavier. Iowa and Purdue just offered in late June.
Dozens of coaches were courtside to watch the Fire in action. Rakocevic named nine schools that had coaches at a majority of his games.
"There were so many, but to name a few there was Michigan State, Baylor, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, Kansas, Creighton, Iowa, and Wisconsin," he said.
Rakocevic claims no favorites yet, but he does plan to take some visits soon. He plans to make a final college decision during his senior year in high school.
"It depends on who I hear from in the next few weeks," he said. "But I'm trying to set up visits to Michigan State, Florida, and Wisconsin."
Sturdy's take: Many times people hear the term 'stretch 4' and assume he can't rebound or is a finesse player. That really isn't the case with Rakocevic. Despite a slight build, he is an aggressive rebounder with a nose for the ball. In Fort Wayne in early May, he drained four 3-pointers and had a 30-point outburst in one game, scoring inside and out. Orange and Blue News likens Rakocevic to a better shooting James Augustine.