Nnanna Egwu, Joseph Bertrand and Tracy Abrams are all current Illinois players that double as alums of Mike Mullins' Illinois Wolves basketball club.
It appears the Wolves' connection to the program is continuing with new Illinois head coach John Groce.
"They've had quite a few of them on campus recently within the last month," Mullins said.
Five in fact, including highly-regarded Keita Bates-Diop, a junior forward from University High School in Normal, Ill., and four other promising in-state guards in the Class of 2015.
Bates-Diop is a versatile 6-foot-8 inch forward who has a wingspan of 7-3 and is comfortable away from the basket as well as inside. He led Normal U-High last winter in scoring at 13.6 points per game for a Pioneers' squad that placed second in state in Class 2A. If the buzz about Bates-Diop was substantial last winter, it reached even higher levels this summer.
"Keita had as good a July as anyone in the country," Mullins said. "He's got a tremendous jump shot. He has range beyond the 3-point line. He can handle the ball, pass it, and he's growing into his body. Laterally and vertically, he's becoming more stronger and more assertive. He just simply had a dominating July."
Bates-Diop is a priority recruit for the Illini, which has offered a scholarship.
But Groce will likely have to fend off the likes of Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, Louisville and Indiana for his services.
Michigan and Purdue have also already offered.
Mullins didn't indicate if Bates-Diop was leaning towards one school over another.
"That's what the recruiting process is for," he said. "They can only go to one school even if they like five of them."
Mullins said guards Jordan Ash (6-1) and Glynn Watson (5-10) from St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Prentiss Nixon (6-0) of Bolingbrook and Roosevelt Smart (6-3) of Palatine have all visited Illinois' campus.
"They all have multiple offers between them," Mullins said, "and they're all different type players."
We'll have more on those four guards in a future blog entry.