CHAMPAIGN — Michael Finke shared the sentiment many Illinois fans probably felt mid-afternoon on Friday.
“I’ve been better,” the Centennial forward and Illinois recruit said moments after Cliff Alexander chose Kansas. “He got my hopes up for a second with the hat trick thing he did, but what can do you? He picked the best school for him. You can’t fault him for that.”
Finke was the first commit for John Groce in the Class of 2014 and first one to sign a letter of intent when he did so Wednesday afternoon. Forward Leron Black followed suit with the second commit and second letter of intent signed for Illinois when the Memphis (Tenn.) White Station forward made it official he is a future Illini on Friday afternoon at his high school. The news of Louisville (Ky.) point guard Quentin Snider decommitting and then signing with the Cardinals on Friday before Alexander’s decision stung many Illinois supporters. Finke included.
“I think Quentin’s decision, for me, personally, is more of a disappointment,” Finke said. “We could have used him for the next two, three or four years. Then again, Cliff is a program-changer. You get him and all the other top recruits will see that and strongly consider Illinois.”
Finke said he found out about Snider’s decommitment when he received a text message Friday morning. During a passing period at Centennial, he checked out Twitter and saw reports surface about a change of heart from Snider, who initially committed to Louisville in April 2011 before backing off that pledge in late July and committing to Illinois in mid-September.
“First, I was surprised when he hadn’t signed (with Illinois) yet,” Finke said. “Once I’d heard he signed with Louisville, though, I wasn’t too shocked.”
A recruiting class that at the start of Friday morning had people envisioning four possible top 150 players is now whittled down to two. Finke said he understands doubts will come now about what type of class Illinois has with Snider and Alexander out of the mix for Illinios.
“What other people want to think, they can think,” he said. “Leron and me will go in and do the best we can. We’ll try and turn some heads to make this program proud. In the end, I know we’ll do that.”