The Illini got a huge commitment from Plainfield (Ill.) East star shooting guard Aaron Jordan on Saturday to add to their growing list of talented commitments.
Jordan, known for his outside shooting prowess, has been a target for Illinois since last spring and provides a much needed outside scoring threat in the 2015 class. Orange and Blue News talked to Jordan about his commitment to the Illini.
"It just felt like home," Jordan said. "Coach Groce is a great coach and I just felt like I was a great fit in their system. They are doing great things at Illinois."
The Illini see Jordan as a player that can use ball screens and knock down shots at a high level. The 6-foot-4 guard sees himself being a versatile player in the Illinois system.
"Illinois needs some more shooters and Coach Groce felt like I would be a perfect fit because I can shoot and I can also handle the ball and attack the basket off the dribble," Jordan said.
This isn't a decision that Jordan entered into lightly. He has been one of the most travelled players in the brief history of following recruiting on twitter, making visits to schools such as Indiana, Wisconsin, Purdue, Xavier and others in the past 6 months. Last week he had Michigan State at his games in Pekin.
"I feel like I've seen enough campuses and been able to compare the different schools and programs," Jordan said. "That's why I've gone on so many visits, just to make sure I was making the best decision."
Of course, Jordan is also very tight with his family, so the proximity of Illinois and their campus was definitely a factor that helped him with his decision.
"I love when my family comes to see me play, so that definitely played a part in the decision," Jordan said.
With the decision now behind him, Jordan can just focus on basketball and it has taken much of the pressure off of him now.
"It definitely takes the pressure off," he said. "Now I can just focus on getting better as a basketball player because I know where I'm going to college."
Coach weighs In
If Illini fans want to know what John Groce is getting in Jordan, who better to ask than his current AAU coach Michael Cieperski.
"Illinois is getting a great player and a great kid," Cieperski said. "He's an extremely hard worker. When he isn't in the gym, he is at the (fitness center) working on his ball handling and getting stronger. He's a great citizen. He's one of the best shooters, not just in the state, but in the country. He shoots over 50% from 3 point range for his career. He isn't just a shooter, though, he has a great ability to use and read ball screens and he's also a great on ball defender."
Cieperski said that his game reminds him of a recent Illini sharpshooter, former Illini Jamar Smith.
"He's a little like Jamar Smith, but with better ball handling and defense," he said. "They are very similar in size and shooting ability, but Aaron handles the ball better and defends better."
After a solid spring, Jordan took his game to another level over the summer and fall. Known for his shooting, he added a dimension where he could attack the basket and finish through contact.
"During the spring, he was a guy that would try and hit pull ups and floaters, but last summer he dunked on 3 different guys in the first weekend we played, even on a bad ankle he was able to do that. He's really improved his vertical leap and strength."
Of course, like most kids in high school Jordan still needs to get stronger. At 6'4 and 170 pounds he isn't quite ready for the grind of high major Big Ten basketball. But his coach thinks he will be.
"He needs to gain 15 or 20 pounds before he gets to Illinois, but he's a kid that will work at it so I have no doubt he can do that over the next 18 months. Just like most high school kids, he needs to gain strength, but he can be a great college player when that happens."