Michael Finke knows he has work to do before he arrives at Illinois before the 2014-15 season.
Shooting. Passing. Ball handling. Finishing at the rim. Gaining weight.
Those are just a few of the objectives the Champaign Centennial High School forward wants to improve on heading into his senior year with the Chargers.
And he's putting in the work. He and his dad, Jeff Finke, a former Illinois men's basketball and football player in the late 1980s, go through the paces of an hour of individual skill work up to three times a week during the offseason at the Stephens Family YMCA in southwest Champaign.
The early-morning workouts, which usually start at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m., are on top of the practices and upcoming tournaments Finke will play in with the Peoria Irish AAU program during the next four months, along with weight training and conditioning.
Needless to say, Finke is getting his fair share of basketball, even with his high school season complete.
"We actually make him take breaks," Jeff said with a laugh before the start of one early-morning workout last week. "Part of the training program we follow, with the strength and conditioning we do, is it’s one of the big pieces is to try to have at least one to two days of rest, and one day of total rest."
The workouts started a year ago, well before he committed to Illinois and before he was on the radar of many college coaches.
"I know with these workouts and with the AAU seasons during the spring and summer, I’ll improve as much, if not more, than I did this following year," said Finke, who helped carry Centennial to a Class 3A sectional championship game appearance this month for a squad that finished 22-9.
The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 16.5 points and 7.7 rebounds to go along with making 47 three-pointers, tops on the team.
"Last year for Centennial, I wasn’t shooting it as much or as much as I should have," Finke said. "It could have also been because I was a sophomore and didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, but this year I knew I had to take charge. Whenever I had shots, I took them. Sometimes I probably took some shots I shouldn’t have, but in the end, I think I did what I could to help my team out."
The lone commit so far in the Class of 2014 for Illinois coach John Groce is still around 200 pounds he was at towards the end of the Centennial season. It's a question Finke will hear plenty of before he suits for the Illini.
"I know I can’t play like this in the Big Ten," he said of his current body. "The goal is to try to get to 220-230 by freshman year, which I think is doable, but it’s going to take work. It’s going to feel good once I finally get to that."
And Gavin Sullivan, the Peoria Irish director, said it's not a matter of if Finke hits his desired weight and makes the necessary improvements to his game before college. It's only a matter of when.
"He’s always been a real humble kid that understands the more work he puts in, the more success he’ll have," Sullivan said. "The bigest thing is that he’s kind of taken his training to a whole other level and a step up from what it was before he committed. He loves getting after it, whether it’s on the weights or working on his skills. Coach Groce will have no problem getting him to work."