Te'Jon Lucas: 'We'll be celebrating'

Te'Jon Lucas: 'We'll be celebrating'

MILWAUKEE — Te’Jon Lucas has had some big-time programs reach out to him in recent weeks to try to get in on his recruitment. But the point guard, rated as a four-star prospect by Scout and ESPN while Rivals marks him as a three-star, told them, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

“Wisconsin, Cal and some other schools came in late,” he said. “I just felt like I had my final three, and I told them it was just a little bit too late.”

Lucas had it narrowed down to Old Dominion, USC and Illinois before announcing he had given John Groce and the Illini staff an oral commitment during a news conference on Wednesday in his hometown.

“It was very exciting and gets a lot off my back,” Lucas said. “I can focus on basketball and school, and I’m glad I can say I’m going to the University of Illinois.”

Lucas made official visits to Old Dominion and USC in recent weeks. He’s scheduled to make his official visit to Illinois this weekend and received a home visit from Groce and assistant coach Paris Parham last week.

When Lucas announced he was going to make a decision on Wednesday, some were surprised at the timing, seeing as his visit with Illinois was coming in less than a week.

“I just felt like it was the right time, and in my gut I felt like I knew where I wanted to be,” he said. “I visited some schools; I went on an unofficial to Illinois and felt like that’s where I needed to be.”

Lucas’ official visit will have a much different vibe than it would have had he not already made a commitment.

“We’ll be celebrating instead of just showing me around and persuading me to come,” Lucas said. 

“I’ll be coming to see stuff I didn’t see and having a good time,” he said.

Lucas becomes the first member of Illinois’ 2016 recruiting class, and the Illini could have as many as three more scholarships to offer in 2016. Forward Xavier Sneed made an official visit last month, and the Illini will likely look to add a big man in the class.

Lucas, who can sign a letter of intent in November, would be the first prep point guard to sign with the Illini since Jaylon Tate three years ago.

“Obviously, they don’t have much depth at point guard, so I’ll be able to contribute right away,” Lucas said. “My family will be able to get to a lot of home games. Most of my family is in Milwaukee, so they can get to a lot of the games.”

The relationship he built with Groce and Parham was also a big selling point.

“Coach P and Coach Groce, they’re very good people. They contact me just about every day, and we’ve bonded and built a relationship,” he said. “It was key to build that relationship with the head coach and the assistant, so I feel real comfortable there.”

Lucas classifies himself as a pass-first point guard with a high-basketball IQ. He averaged better than 14 points and five rebounds per game as a junior last season at Milwaukee’s Washington High.

“It doesn’t matter if I score, but I’ll score if I have to,” said Lucas, who would become just the third UI letterwinner from the state of Wisconsin, joining Henry Pofferfuss (1908-10) and Keston Deimling (1926-28). “I’m looking to come and win and make the team better.”

 

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Point guard Te’Jon Lucas, who committed to Illinois on Wednesday, will join an Illinois roster featuring plenty of other players rated as four-star talents or better coming out of high school. Here’s a look at those already on the UI roster:

NAME YEAR

Malcolm Hill 2013

Kendrick Nunn 2013

Leron Black 2014

Jalen Coleman-Lands 2015

D.J. Williams 2015

Aaron Jordan 2015

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