Kendrick Nunn, the standout junior shooting guard from Simeon High School in Chicago, made the trip to Champaign on Friday night to watch Bruce Weber's team use an impressive second half to cruise past Loyola-Chicago, 67-49.
After recently decommitting from Texas A&M, the 6-foot-3 southpaw is hearing from several new schools - Illinois, UCLA, Providence, Florida State, Memphis and DePaul were several of the programs that Nunn said have been in steady contact with him over the last several months.
Nunn, who is ranked as the 18th best player in 2013 by Rivals.com, used a notable summer with USA basketball and his AAU Meanstreets program to solidify his status as one of the premier players in the country. He says the biggest improvement he's made over the past year has been with ball handling.
"Every day I train on my ball handling," Nunn said. "The majority of the work I've been doing over the summer has probably been on my right hand. It's coming along pretty well."
All eyes will continue to be on Nunn and his Simeon squad this year, which is ranked by several publications as the number-one team in the nation. Due to all the increased hype heading into the season, Simeon head coach Robert Smith held a media day for his players this week.
"[Media day] was actually [Thursday]," Nunn said. "There was a lot of people there. [Coach Smith] let us play around that day, show off a little bit. It was pretty cool."
Despite the lofty preseason praise, Nunn and his teammates aren't letting the attention get to their heads.
"Not really," Nunn said, when asked if the team talks about the high expectations. "We just continue to go hard in practice. There's a big 'X' on our back, so we have to go harder than everybody else."
Nunn, who says he will "put my team first and let my recruitment come second," won't let the recruiting attention get in the way of what he hopes will be another banner year at Simeon. Illinois ace recruiter Jerrance Howard has made the in state prospect a top priority, and Nunn says he grew up rooting for the Fighting Illini.
"Coach Jerrance, he's real cool. We're like brothers," Nunn said. "[He tells me] Illinois is a great school, and the fans are outstanding. I've been watching them as I've grown up. It's my state school, so yeah, I watch them."
After feeling like he rushed into committing to Texas A&M, Nunn plans on taking his recruitment a bit slower the second time around. He's looking for a school that will allow him to succeed both on and off the court, and he doesn't expect to make a decision until sometime during his senior season.
"Good organization, great relationship with the coaches, facilities and academics," Nunn said of what he's looking for in a school. "I'm taking my time, being patient. [I'll decide] probably at the end of my senior year."