Michael Finke played against Leron Black on the AAU circuit in July.
Yes, the Champaign Centennial forward and only commit in the Class of 2014 for John Groce pushed for Black, a high priority for Groce’s staff, to consider Illinois.
But no, Finke didn’t get a confirmation from the White Station (Tenn.) power forward about his college plans.
“He hurt his foot and didn’t play the whole game against us, but I guarded him and thought I played pretty good defense,” said Finke, who just completed his last AAU season with the Peoria Irish. “A few times jogging up and down the court I said, ‘Come join me at Illinois.’ He just smiled and said, ‘I’ll see.’ That’s pretty much all that consisted of.”
Finke’s July consisted of plenty of basketball.
The 17-year-old took part in three tournaments with the Irish, two in Milwaukee and one in Fort Wayne, Ind. That schedule is OK with him.
“Basketball is my life, so I’m not complaining,” he said. “I thought the AAU season went pretty well. We had our ups and downs throughtout the year as team, but we made it to the Final Four in our last tournament. For me, I thought I was more consistent and had some pretty big games. I was taking advantage of what I had.”
And he’s fully recovered from the appendectomy he had performed in early May.
“Totally fine from that,” Finke said. “I honestly forgot about that.”
Along with playing against Black and his Team Thad squad, Finke also hooped it up against Louisville commit JaQuan Lyle’s Spiece Indy Heat and Wisconsin commit Ethan Happ’s Quad City Elite, among others.
The start of August in 2012 signified Finke first drawing major attention with offers from Iowa and Wisconsin.
It’s going on eight months since his verbal to Illinois last December.
“It’s pretty crazy to think I’ve been committed that long,” Finke said. “Whatever I can do to help Illinois win, that’s what I’m going to try to do.”
And Centennial this winter.
Speculation ensued Finke might transfer this spring, but he is intent on finishing out his career with the Chargers.
“I’m 100 percent committed to Centennial,” Finke said. “With me and (Centennial guard) Dedric Byrd playing AAU ball together, we’ve become really good friends off the court, and we should have a pretty good team next year.”
The 6-foot-9 Finke has stated previously he wants to improve on his shot selection and his ability to finish at the rim before he arrives at Illinois. And bulking up.
“I weighed in (last) Tuesday, and it was 207 1/2 pounds,” Finke said. “It seems like I’m gaining every week. By New Year’s, I want to be around 215, with the goal of arriving at Illinois between 225-230.”