Finke commits to Illinois

Finke commits to Illinois

Centennial junior Michael Finke will play his college basketball at Illinois.

Finke told John Groce of his decision Wednesday afternoon while on a visit to the school.

"It just felt right," Finke said. "It's a bonus that it's just across the street."

A 6-foot-9 forward, Finke attracted several Big Ten offers after a solid summer. His stock continued to rise once his season began, Finke helping state-ranked Centennial race to an undefeated start in conference play.

Turns out Illinois' quick start helped Finke's decision.

"I watched how they played and saw how I can fit in," Finke said.

Finke is Groce's first commit in the Class of 2014. 

Groce impressed the Finke family on their first meeting, his detailed approach catching the eye of both Michael and his father, Jeff, a former two-sport athlete at Illinois. Still, Jeff Finke said his son wanted to explore his options before making a decision.

Jeff Finke said he rushed his decision-making process before committing to Lou Henson's lllini.

Michael Finke is averaging 17.7 points and 6.6 rebounds for the 8-2 Chargers, who lead the Big 12.

Wisconsin, Purdue and Kansas State were among the many other schools to offer Finke.

"A lot of people thought it was going to be Illinois from the get-go," Finke said. "That was not the case at all."

Illinois coaches can't comment on Finke until he signs a letter of intent, which he can do as early as November 2013. 

A tough, skilled big man with a smooth shooting stroke, Finke projects as a four-man at Illinois.

Finke is the latest in a long line of recent Centennial products to go on to Division I basketball. Two former Chargers - Rayvonte Rice and Jeff Johnson - will be at the Assembly Hall for Sunday's Eastern Kentucky-Illinois game. Other recent Centennial stars to play Division I include James Kinney (San Jose State), Josh Piper (Eastern Illinois) and former Illini Trent Meacham.

More coming on HQ 

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lmaran wrote on December 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm

That is wonderful news! Congratulations and Welcome, Michael. Welcome to the Illini Nation. 

I still remember when Jeff Finke committed to Lou Henson, from out of Paris, Edgar County.



K.D. wrote on December 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm

I thought his dad was from Casey, IL. 


lmaran wrote on December 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm

You are right! Its tough reminiscing from SW Florida!

Firehawk wrote on December 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm

"At least one more scholarship will be open for Groce to use."

Umm how you figure that one? At this time the house is full by my count ,unless  somebody at HQ wants to report a player is leaving the team?

aaeismacgychel wrote on December 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm

One opens for Bertrand and the other would open for Rice, right? He's played two years, then has to sit a year, so I think he only has 1 year of eligibility remaining. A transfer year doesn't count as a redshirt year, right?

In any case, while I think Finke is a nice addition to the team, I too am a bit concerned as the 2014 class is a good one and the scholarships we've used on Morgan, Colbert, and Finke means we can only get one of:

5* S60 Jahlil Okafor (extremely unlikely)
5* S60 Cliff Alexander (very unlikely)
5* S60 JaQuan Lyle (unlikely)
5* S60 Rashad Vaughn (unlikely)
4* S60 Trevon Bluiett (maybe)
4* S60 Larry Austin (good chance)
4* S60 Paul White (good chance)

John Groce knows what recruits best fit his class, but hopefully his recruits do indeed outperform their rankings because a good amount of higher rated talent is still on the board.

IlliniMike05 wrote on December 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm

We'll have more than two 2014 scholarships. 

aaeismacgychel wrote on December 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Only way that would be possible is if someone went pro, transferred, decommitted, or went to walk-on status. It's more than possible that a transfer could occur (maybe Mike Shaw?), but the rest is a bit of a mixed bag. It's possible, maybe even likely if Groce does get 2 additional commits on top of Finke, but it's not on paper yet.

IlliniMike05 wrote on December 12, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Yeah, I'm aware of what would have to happen. And  those things usually happen. 

illinigator wrote on December 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Does he look like another Griffey and will take 4 years to  develope?  They seem like the same type of player.  Griffey was highly recruited and was one of the top players in Missouri.

bernies wrote on December 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I'm thinking Groce's coaching style and player development approach will allow Finke to bloom earlier than Griffey did. I was a fan of Bruce Weber, but so far this season I think Groce has a better hook on player development than Bruce did...

houstonillini84 wrote on December 14, 2012 at 8:12 am

I think it depends on the type of player. Weber had a different system and different types of players developed better and shined. Obviously Groce runs more and the offense is more free-flowing so a more athletic player benefits in his system. A more disciplined player and perimeter ballhandlers do well in Weber's system. Its too bad last season we didnt have more players proficient at feeding the post because Meyers could have been absolutely dominant; our flow and ballhandling on offense suffered after Sam got injured. Coulda woulda shoulda. Anyway, the perimeter guys we have now are playing well in this system, and thats what matters.

CLBlood wrote on December 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Thank you, Santa!


I still want (really want) what I asked for on December 22.

jdstieg wrote on December 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm

It's possible that the coaching and/or system had something to do with Tyler Griffey's development.

illinigator wrote on December 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I want to beleive you guys.  But our bigs have not looked good in a game yet.  Egwu still looks like a low mid major player.  Griffey looks good one game then falls off badly the next couple of games.  If the Illini had decent center, they wouldn't look like they did last night.

aaeismacgychel wrote on December 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I'm with you on this one, illinigator. I think Tyler Griffey is in a better state of mind than last year, but he's pretty much the same player. Tyler Griffey did have some games where he was successful on the Weber teams, but it was games like last night and the one against Gonzaga that got him in Weber's doghouse. Griffey really seems to play as well as he shoots the ball. When he makes shots, he tends to play tougher on defense and will attack the glass to get rebounds. When he doesn't he seems to lose confidence, gets tentative, and allows opponents to just blow past him. Last night was fairly infuriating as a fan in general, but his play in particular was frustrating to watch (not that Egwu's play at some points in the game wasn't equally frustrating). I just think that some days we'll get Good Tyler Griffey and some days we'll get Bad Tyler Griffey. Groce has been more than a bit more tolerant of Bad Tyler Griffey at this point. We'll see if it does pay off and allow Griffey to get in a rhythm and be more consistent, but to be honest, I just don't think that's something we can rely on.

82sage wrote on December 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm

 How many rebounds did Griffey get last night and what was his average in rebounds last year?

aaeismacgychel wrote on December 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm

He had 3 Defensive rebounds last night in 26 minutes. He averaged just about that last year when ratioing up his 17 mpg. Overall, this is the statistical difference from last year to this year for Griffey:

MPG: 23.7 (2013) 16.5 (2012)
PPG: 9.3 (2013) 4.9 (2012)
RPG: 3.4 (2013) 3.3 (2012)

Based on minutes played, points scored, and rebounds, that equates to:

Points per 40min: 11.8 (2012) 15.6 (2013)
Defensive rebounds per 40min: 4.5 (2012) 4.3 (2013)
Offensive rebounds per 40min: 3.5 (2012) 1.4 (2013)

So, overall, Tyler Griffey has certainly scored more points this year but he has been actually less effective on the glass this year, especially on the offensive side. Basically it amounts to in a 40 minute game, you'd expect Tyler to score 4 more points and fail to get 2.5 more rebounds. Overall, I think he has a better mindset, but I wouldn't necessarily say he's improved all that much in terms of court presence. He has good days and bad days, but fairly inconsistent from day to day.

82sage wrote on December 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm

  He did lead the team in assists in a very poor shooting outting. Give credit where credit is due, I agree the last two games he is in a shooting slump but HE IS CONTRIBUTING. I am to believe his shooting slump is OVER. GO ILLINI!

orangeandblueblood wrote on December 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Can't imagine that in writing an article and including Centennial products to play D1 ball, you did not mention Roger McClendon.  At the time that he played at Cincinnati, he was second in scoring only to Oscar Robinson.  He is fourth now, but the three point line was implemented after he was in college for two years.

IlliniMike05 wrote on December 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm

They were talking about guys from the last few years. Roger McClendon was three decades ago. 

This would be like reading an article about recent Illini stars and being incredulous that Derek Harper was left out.

82sage wrote on December 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm

 I am thankful for the new attitude this team has displayed overall this year to this point. They are much more aggresive it even appears as if they are enjoying themselves. Reality is they will lose some games this year but to this point they have exceeded my expectations. Tyler Griffey maybe the most improved player. Yes, the last two games he has not scored as he has earlier but he is contributing. Does anyone remember his performance last year or lack there of. He is fighting hard last year it appeared as if he couldn't catch a pass. His scoring will return and I think sooner rather than later. The guys are free to shoot and play their game for the first time in their college years. Look at them they are having a ball. This is a team that fell apart to put it lightly last year. Their best player from last year is playing ball in the nba this year. To not acknowledge the progress that has been made to this point is a very "glass half empty" view. To think the future of the BB program is in good hands is exciting. It's been a while since we have had a bright future in the major sports. MT if the season goes well ( we will not win every game) secure John Groce for the future! What a delight it is for a coach to take responsibility for a poor performance (during a win) instead of throwing college athletes under the bus! This guy inderstands human relations. He is young, sign him for a long term contract! HEY! We are 11-0 who would have thunk it? GO ILLINI!

BaytownILLINI wrote on December 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm


So happy to hear you chose the U of I.  You could not have made a better choice.  With Coach Groce and the way he coaches and recruits your career at Illinois will be a wonderful celebration.  So glad to have a legacy player joining us and I wish you and your family the very best.  I was a big fan of your dads in the 1980s.

Tony in Baytown, Texas


82sage wrote on December 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm

BaytownILLINI; absolutely perfect, I agree!

houstonillini84 wrote on December 14, 2012 at 8:12 am

Grif is one of those guys that looks better against weaker competition but has trouble against bigger, more athletic teams. Hopefully that has changed - we'll see against Mizzou and during the B10 season.