College basketball extra: Tim Finke starts another AAU season

College basketball extra: Tim Finke starts another AAU season

Every other Sunday in the offseason, college basketball writer Scott Richey provides a page of news and analysis. Want more? Richey chats at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at


Central’s Finke ready to take on advanced role with AAU’s Meanstreets

CHAMPAIGN — Tim Finke had options this spring for his AAU landing spot. Teams from Illinois, Missouri and Indiana were interested.

Renewed interest from Meanstreets and its plan for the 6-foot-6 Champaign Central junior guard in particular was enough to sway Finke.

“After AAU ended last year I started looking around just to make sure,” said Finke, who played up an age group last year in the EYBL with the St. Louis Eagles. “I wanted to spend my last AAU season with the right team and the right guys. Everything they were saying is kind of what I wanted to be in.”

Meanstreets played in its first tournament at the NY2LA Swish n’ Dish Spring Warm-Up two weekends ago. Finke hadn’t spent much time with his new teammates, who include the Class 4A state champion Whitney Young trio of Javon Freeman-Liberty, Xavier Castañeda and Justin Boyd along with Simeon’s Messiah Jones, Bolingbrook’s Kaleb Thornton and West Aurora’s Camron Donatlan among others.

“I enjoyed it a lot, getting to know my teammates over the last few weeks,” Finke said. “I wouldn’t say our first weekend went totally smooth, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. You expect that in the first weekend playing with each other. We’re trying to figure out how we play with each other.”

Finke said Meanstreets plans to utilize his versatility, playing him both in the post and on the perimeter. That’s the way his dad, Central coach Jeff Finke, has utilized his skill set the past two seasons with the Maroons.

Finke, a 2017 News-Gazette All-State first-team selection, averaged 19.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game for the Maroons this past season. That came after he averaged 20.5 points and 7.1 rebounds as a sophomore.

“He’s a complete basketball player, and he’s continued to focus on that,” Jeff Finke said. “He led our team in assists. Still a good rebounder on both ends of the floor.

“Last year with the Eagles he was pretty much put in the corner and was supposed to be a shooter. There’s a lot more movement with (Meanstreets’ offense). He’ll post at times and probably initiate their offense from time to time. He’ll be utilized at all three levels and definitely will still be asked to shoot the basketball.”

The one difference Jeff Finke said he’s seen in his youngest son comes in the way his body has evolved.

“The biggest notable change in Tim the last 9 to 10 months is his physical strength,” Jeff Finke said. “He’s gotten a lot stronger. We’re backing him off a little bit so he doesn’t get any thicker up top.”

A change Finke said he wants to make in his second season in the EYBL comes in the overall way he operates on the court. Last season with the Eagles, playing with the likes of Saint Louis-bound Jordan Goodwin and top-10 Class of 2018 guard Darius Garland, Finke said he ultimately didn’t play with enough aggression.

“I want to be a lot more dominant this spring,” he said. “I think last year I might have sat back a bit too much. This year I definitely want to be a focal point and I want to win.

“I want to dominate games and do that in the right way, playing as a team. If we play as a team, we’ll have a really good year and that will benefit all of us with recruiting.”

Finke is ranked No. 91 in the Class of 2018 in the 247Sports Composite and as high as No. 77 by Rivals. He holds 17 Division I offers, including at least one from every power-six conference. Vanderbilt coaches Bryce Drew and Roger Powell Jr. just completed an in-home visit, and Finke said the Commodores, Oregon, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Illinois are recruiting him the most.

Finke’s Illini offer came from former coach John Groce, but he said new coach Brad Underwood had reached out.

“He was really cool,” Finke said of Underwood. “He was talking about how he likes to play and the type of players he likes to recruit. ... It was cool to hear from him, the new coach in town. He wins. That’s something that sticks out to me every single time I think of him because he’s had a lot of success.”

Future endeavors
Tim Finke isn’t the only 2018 player who’s been on Illinois’ recruiting radar. Here are three more to possibly keep an eye on:

Ayo Dosunmu, 6-4, Guard
The Morgan Park point guard is ranked as high as No. 21 in the country by Scout and averaged 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Class 3A state champs.

Trevion Williams, 6-8, Center
The No. 3 center in the 2018 class per 247Sports dominated for Henry Ford Academy in Detroit, averaging 22 points and 25 rebounds per game.

Darius Days, 6-7, Forward
Versatile wing put up 21 points, 10 rebounds and two steals per game for The Rock School (Gainesville, Fla.) in the Lions’ 33-4 season.



This week: Several of the Big Ten's top players added their name to NBA draft early-entrant pool. Here's how their departures (if they leave) rank:

Caleb Swanigan, Purdue

His draft status probably can't be higher, but the All-America forward left the door open for a return to West Lafayette. If he does, the Boilermakers are a possible top-10 team.

O.G. Anunoby, Indiana

Anunoby missed the final 15 games of the '16-17 season, but is projected just outside of the lottery in several mocks. That's why he's, not so surprisingly, hired an agent.

D.J. Wilson, Michigan

The 6-foot-10 forward has the exact skill set NBA teams are looking for — bouncy athlete who can rebound and stretch the floor offensively. The Wolverines could use him, too.

Moritz Wagner, Michigan

Try and find an NBA team that wouldn't want a 6-11 three-point shooter. His possible return to Ann Arbor — or Wilson's — would also provide a little veteran leadership for the Wolverines.

Melo Trimble, Maryland

There's no coming back for Trimble. He's hired an agent. The Terps do have Anthony Cowan, but another season of Trimble (projected as a late second-rounder) wouldn't hurt.

James Blackmon Jr., Indiana

The 6-4 guard has proven one thing in his 21/2 healthy seasons with the Hoosiers: He can shoot and score. Losing that would be a real blow to new coach Archie Miller.

Thomas Bryant, Indiana

Two good-but-not-great seasons have Bryant's future in limbo. A return to the Hoosiers, which is possible, plus a reminder he actually can dominate down low could spark more NBA interest.

Corey Sanders, Rutgers

Sanders' production might have dipped in his second season on the Banks, but the Scarlet Knights still got the ball in his hands when a play needed to be made.

Trevor Thompson, Ohio State

Losing the 7-footer would put the Buckeyes' post hopes into Micah Potter and Kaleb Wesson's hands. Thompson's return would provide a needed, veteran rim protector.

Isaac Haas, Purdue

Another "no agent" early entrant, the 7-2 center's absence would be more harshly felt if Swanigan left, too. Odds are Haas finds his way back to West Lafayette.




Evan Daniels,'s director of basketball recruiting and FoxSports college basketball insider, shares some insight on the Illini following a wild month of coaching changes and recruiting shakeups:

How is Brad Underwood's hire at Illinois been seen nationally?

I think the feel is it was a tremendous hire and a heck of a coup for Illinois to get him — especially after one year at Oklahoma State. Brad Underwood is a guy that is respected in this business. He's obviously going to have to learn the recruiting landscape in Illinois, but I think he did a great job of hiring a staff that can do that.

What difference can his assistants make?

He covered all the bases. He kept over a guy in Jamall (Walker) that has established relationships. He want out and got a guy in Orlando Antigua that's a former head coach and an ace recruiter and a guy that had tremendous success at Kentucky and Memphis and Pittsburgh. Then you throw in a guy like Chin Coleman who has strong ties to the state of Illinois and Mac Irvin Fire and the recruiting scene. It gives him instant credibility in arguably the most important city. If you're the head coach at Illinois, you have to be able to recruit the city of Chicago. They're bringing in a guy that has established long-term, long-lasting relationships that will be able to help them immediately.

How will the remaining members of the 2017 recruiting class — Trent Frazier and Da'Monte Williams — help?

They've got two guards that can help them, and I think Trent Frazier is a pretty good player. He can score the ball and is crafty. They needed to get a couple guards and fill out their depth and help on the perimeter, and I think they'll do that.

Does Illinois face a challenge with four open scholarships?

You have to have patience. Brad Underwood is taking over a new program. The last thing he's going to do is take bad players and players that aren't good enough because they have to fill some roster spots. You have more options with graduate transfers. They're guys you can kind of plug and play to help your team. I'm sure they'll look at junior college. There's still plenty of good, available players not only in the United States, but also internationally.

Is Mark Smith's rise from mid-major visits to John Calipari being in his living room rare?

It's not an abnormal story. This happens every year. Some guys emerge quicker than others. There's always a couple per year that do this. It's a cool story nonetheless.




Our college basketball writer takes note of four national news items from the week that was:


The preseason Top 25 won't come out until late October, but two teams got good news this week in terms of their roster this fall. Miles Bridges opting to return to Michigan State and Allonzo Trier doing the same at Arizona makes the Spartans and Wildcats early top-five contenders. Bridges was a likely lottery pick in this year's NBA draft. A weaker draft class in 2018 likely vaults him into the top-five picks.


Maryland president Wallace Loh said North Carolina could face the NCAA's "death penalty" for nearly two decades of alleged academic fraud spread across multiple sports. Tar Heels coach Roy Williams responded to that by referring to Loh as a "double idiot." The NCAA's investigation began in 2010 and is currently on hold again as UNC works to file a response to the third notice of allegations levied. Will there ever be a conclusion?


Zach Collins, the college basketball world knew you too briefly. While the 7-footer didn't start a single game for national runner-up Gonzaga, his national semifinal performance against South Carolina (14 points, 13 rebounds, six blocks) teased his potential. Potential that has him as a likely lottery pick come June now that he's declared and hired an agent.


Steve Fisher will always be tied to Michigan and the Fab Five, but his long-term coaching success came 2,300 miles away from Ann Arbor and the booster scandal he was erroneously entangled with. The 72-year-old Fisher has retired after 18 seasons at San Diego State, leading the Aztecs to 11 straight 20-win seasons from 2006-16.

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