Michael Finke diary: Illini, others come calling

Say hello to Michael Finke, a 16-year-old junior at Centennial with a bright basketball future. As he decides where to play in college — Illinois and Kansas State offered recently — the oldest son of a former Illini will take us behind the scenes with a monthly diary. Entry No. 2:

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!

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