The Finke Diaries

Centennial star Michael Finke, who committed to Illinois today, is writing a monthly diary for The New-Gazette. He's what he had to say leading up to Wednesday' announcement.

DECEMBER

The season is finally here. College basketball season started a little under a month ago, and my high school season started two weeks ago. This is the best time of the year.

Since my last journal entry a number of things have happened. First, I attended the Purdue game in West Lafayette against Hofstra. This time I met with the trainer. It was interesting to hear from him and hear his vision for the program. He used to work with the Chicago Bulls in the NBA, so he approaches everything they do from an NBA perspective. He talked about how he would work with me to gain weight. I liked to hear what he had to say because of the accountability they provide. That is something that I will need in college to help me get bigger. After I finished talking with him, my family and I went to watch the game. It was a fun game to watch, and to see Purdue come out on top was even a bonus.

Last Monday, we had our first game. It was a blast! We played Danville and came out on top with the victory. Later on in the week we played four more games. We did all right to start off the season, finishing the tournament with a 3-2 record. Not only did I play these games but we also had a bunch of family over for Thanksgiving. It was great to see everyone again. They also came to my games to support me. It was a great week of family and basketball.

Finally, I went to the Illinois game on Wednesday against Georgia Tech. It was a great game to watch. The atmosphere was great, and the fact that they won made it even better. Toward the end of the game when Illinois got on a roll, it brought us all to our feet. Especially when (Joseph) Bertrand made those two threes and that clutch layup; it was fun at the Assembly Hall!

I continue to hear from a variety of schools including Indiana, Florida, Georgetown, Boston College, Missouri, Notre Dame and others, including the schools that have already offered me. As the basketball season gets under way I will continue to watch and attend as many college games as possible. I will also be focusing on my high school season and trying to make the team better.

NOVEMBER

My high school basketball season is almost here. Tryouts are this week. My teammates and I are ready to take on the season. We have high expectations.

Open gyms have been going well. In September and the first half of October, college coaches have continued to come as they did in previous months. Since the college practice season started Oct. 12, the coaches have been busy with their teams and haven’t been able to come to open gyms like they have in the previous weeks.
 
My first visit since my last journal entry was to the University of Iowa to attend its Black and Gold Blowout. I went with my dad, my AAU director, Gavin Sullivan, my youngest brother and two of my teammates. It was fun to see the fan base at Iowa. Their Blowout consisted of a three-point contest, a dunk contest and they scrimmaged each other in the end.  
 
The following day I traveled to Chicago to participate in the 2012 Midwest Invitational workout. Forty-two high school players from around the Midwest attended. It was conducted by Mike Procopio, who trains Kobe Bryant. Dave Telep, ESPN’s head recruiting analyst and talent evaluator, conducted evaluations on players at the workout. Following the session, Telep interviewed me and posted it on ESPN.com along with my evaluation. It was a great day, and I learned a lot from Procopio.   

A week and a half ago, Coach Painter from Purdue attended my open gym for the second time. After the workout he sat down with my dad and me and offered a scholarship. He talked to me about how I would fit in his system and thrive in his program. I can’t wait to learn more about their program and get over to a practice and game this season.
 
This past week I attended the Orange & Blue Scrimmage at Illinois. A few days later my parents, brothers and I went to the exhibition game against Lewis (above). Before the game we went to the shootaround and hung out with the other recruits and 2013 commits who were there. It was great to meet the players and their families. I had a great time. I’m looking forward to watching more practices and attending games this year.

The recruiting process is a fun journey in my life. I’ve enjoyed talking to coaches and reporters. I’ve developed great relationships with them. My high school season is right around the corner, and I can’t wait to get started!

OCTOBER

I’ve never had a fall quite like this one. Since my last journal entry five weeks ago a lot has changed.  

I started doing basketball workouts with former Illini and friend, Trent Meacham. We work on ball handling, shooting, footwork and defense. I like working with Trent because he helps me with my outside game. I’m seeing a lot of improvement in my open gyms, and coaches are telling me that they can see the improvement, too. I also work out with my dad on the court and in the weightroom several days a week at the YMCA.

Open gyms have been busy. In every open gym but one I’ve had a coach or more there watching. At one open gym I had eight college coaches in attendance. The colleges at this open gym were Indiana, Northwestern, Iowa, Purdue, Missouri, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Wisconsin-Green Bay. The head coaches of Iowa and Purdue came that night. Other colleges that have been at my open gyms the past three weeks have been Illinois, Wisconsin, Stanford, Kansas State, Illinois State, Bradley and Ball State. The head coaches from Illinois, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Kansas State and Illinois State have all attended my open gyms. My teammates and I are excited and comfortable playing in front of the many head coaches and assistant coaches during our open gyms.

I’ve been on three unofficial visits plus I attended the Illinois/Penn State football game this month. My first visit was to Iowa. We went to a football game and talked to Coach McCaffery and his staff and toured the campus and facilities. I had a great time. I loved the fans in Iowa and the whole atmosphere. It was a great experience. My second visit was to Wisconsin. We went to a football game, toured the facilities and talked to Coach Ryan and his staff. The football game was a lot of fun. They seem to have a great fan base. On Saturday we went to Purdue. We talked to Coach Painter and his staff, toured the campus and the facilities and went to the football game. It was great to be at West Lafayette and see the school. I had a great day!

Since my last journal entry I have received scholarship offers from Illinois, Kansas State and Bradley. It feels wonderful to know that I have options and choices in where I will play college basketball. Going into July I had one scholarship offer. As of today, I now have 14. It’s very humbling. It’s exciting each time I receive an offer. Many people around the community have asked for a couple of months if Illinois was going to offer. It was a great honor to receive the offer from Coach Groce to have the possibility to play at the same school as my dad. I am looking forward to getting to know the coaches and program of Illinois and the other schools as I make my decision on where I will play college basketball.

The recruiting process is a lot of fun but can be stressful at times. I can’t remember a day I didn’t communicate with a college coach and/or reporter since this all started. Every college is different in its recruiting process. Some schools have sent me multiple letters and I’ve never spoken to the staff. Other schools have offered but I’ve never received a letter.  

I’m looking forward to the Centennial basketball season and playing with my teammates. Open gyms have been going well. It looks like a promising year for us. I can’t wait to put on the Charger uniform again and represent my school!

SEPTEMBER

My summer was definitely one to remember. It was amazing.

Going into July, I had received one scholarship offer from South Dakota State University. I was thrilled, but I knew I had a lot more to prove. I competed with the PeoriaIrish during the spring and summer. We played in tournaments throughout the Midwest against many of the top players and teams from around the U.S. and Canada in April, May and July. In July, college coaches were allowed to watch games at NCAA-certified tournaments. I took advantage of it.

After three very competitive tournaments, I received 10 more scholarship offers. My hard work has started to pay off. I now have offers from SDSU, NDSU, EIU, Loyola, SIUE, Nebraska-Omaha, Wisconsin-Green Bay, UIC, Illinois State Iowa and Wisconsin.

It is a privilege and a true honor to go through this whole experience right now. I do not know what I would do without the support of my family. In mid-August, we took a vacation to Orlando. It was a great way to close out a magnificent summer.

So far, I have been on three un-official visits and attended three elite camps.

The first visit I took was to the University of Wisconsin. It was great. My whole family came with me. We met all of the coaches and players, toured the campus, toured their facilities, and I scrimmaged with the players. It was an amazing experience, and Coach Ryan offered me a scholarship as we met in his office.

My latest visit was to the University of Illinois. My youngest brother, mom and dad came with me this time. I was able to watch a practice, met with Coach Groce and his staff, toured some of the campus (some of what I haven't seen) and heard Coach Groce's vision for Illinois basketball. It sounds very promising.

I currently have scheduled three visits so far for the fall: Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Gaining weight and strength have been two huge factors for me. Since the end of my sophomore season, I have been on a 5,000-calorie-per-day diet. Even though my weight has increased by 17 pounds since the end of my high school season in March, I still want to add several pounds. In addition to gaining weight, I've also grown 1-inch-plus and am now up to 6-foot-9. In addition to playing pickup games at the YMCA and the Six Pack, I lift two to three times per week and also do two to three skill sessions per week with my dad.

I am happy to be back at Centennial for my junior year. Many college coaches have told me they plan to attend our open gyms in September and October. I'm looking forward to our high school basketball season and playing with my Charger teammates. It should be a great year!

 

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