Finke is getting bigger
Tuesdays are big days for Michael Finke.
For obvious reasons, the Champaign Centennial (Ill.) High School big man usually has a game for the Chargers.
Like last night when he scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds during Centennial's 58-44 win against Rantoul (Ill.) High School during a Class 3A Centennial Regional semifinal game.
Aside from his production on the court, however, Tuesdays are symbolic in a different way for the Illinois commit.
It's weigh-in day.
When Finke committed to Illinois on Dec. 12, the 6-foot-9 1/2 forward weighed 193 pounds.
His last weigh-in had him tipping the scales at 200 1/2 pounds.
"I'm going to count every half pound," Finke said with a laugh. "I got this milk shake thing I use that has about 1,300 calories, and these peanut butter balls that I eat that have at least 1,000 calories in them, so I just try to get as much calories in as I can."
Finke has previously said he would like to get his weight up to 220 pounds by the time he arrives on Illinois' roster for the 2014-15 season.
The sharp-shooting Finke has a multi-faceted approach to his game.
He's a steady outside shooter who can stretch opposing defenses but also score inside on a variety of moves.
In one game earlier this month, he showed off these talents by making 5-of-9 from three-point range while also taking two dribbles along the baseline and slamming home a one-handed dunk.
"I'd say I'm playing pretty well," said Finke, who is averaging 16.5 points and 7.8 rebounds to go along with 36 percent shooting (41-of-113) from three-point range. "There's been some up and down games for me personally, but I'm just trying to get better, get stronger and get quicker. I'm trying to work on the little things and just improve so I'll be ready by the time I get (to Illinois)."
If you tune in to Illinois' home finale on Saturday against Nebraska, chances are you'll see Finke sitting in the A Section bleachers closest to the Illini bench.
He said he has attended "pretty much" every Illinois home game, with the exception of the upset against Indiana on Feb. 7.
Finke was watching his younger brother, Tim, play in a seventh-grade state championship game in Normal that night.
He said he stays in touch with the Illinois coaching staff on a weekly basis, most often talking to assistant coach Dustin Ford, who coaches the post players for the Illini, and occasionally with head coach John Groce, who was in attendance on Tuesday night and chatted with Finke for a few minutes after the game.
"They've been playing pretty well, and Coach Groce has them going in the right direction," Finke said. "Going to Michigan, that's a tough place to play, and they battled. I love Coach Groce and his staff. They're going to do the right things."
Finke's season with Centennial will last at least through Friday after Tuesday's win against Rantoul.
The Chargers (20-8) will play either Mahomet-Seymour High School or Urbana High School at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in a regional championship game, with the winner advancing to next Tuesday's Mount Zion Sectional semifinal game.
Whenever Centennial's season does end, Finke won't have much downtime before his AAU season begins.
He's playing with the Peoria Irish again, and his father, Jeff Finke, the former Illinois football and men's basketball player, will coach his team.
Finke's first tournament of the spring AAU season will find him heading to Milwaukee on April 5-7, with tournaments in Minneapolis (April 19-21) and Louisville, Ky., (April 26-28) to follow later in the month.
While those tournaments will help Finke develop more before he gets to Illinois, so has this high school basketball season with the extra attention not only from opposing teams and media, but opposing student sections.
"A couple student sections have chanted overrated, but you can't worry about it though," Finke said. "I was prepared for it coming into the season, even before I committed to Illinois. I'm used to it now. It's kind of fun to play around and hear some of the things they say. It's going to be even worse in college, so it's just getting me prepared."