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The Nike Skills Academy that wrapped up this past weekend in California was basically a who’s who of Illinois recruiting targets. The full collection of high school prospects included 15 recruits — 10 from the 2020 class and five from 2021 — with an Illini offer. In short, Illinois is (or was in a couple instances) after half the players in attendance.
Now, the event didn’t create a viral moment like Steph Curry’s SC30 Select Camp did when 7-footer and Illinois recruiting target) Chet Holmgren crossed up the two-time NBA MVP. Seriously. Find the video. You won’t be disappointed by the Class of 2021 Minnesotan beating Curry off the dribble with a behind-the-back move he turned into a two-handed dunk.
Anyway, the Nike Skills Academy simply highlighted just how many top prospects Illinois coach Brad Underwood and Co. are recruiting. Saturday’s showcase game — the best of an already terrific group — saw 2020 guards and Illini priorities DJ Steward and Adam Miller squaring off against each other on separate teams and 11 of the 15 Illinois targets playing.
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One of the best aspects of events like the Nike Skill Academy or USA Basketball camps is an accurate read on the measurements of some of these players. Rosters, believe it or not, sometimes lie. Actual heights always make for an interesting note.
Like Miller is 6-foot-2. The Morgan Park senior is more Andres Feliz than Ayo Dosunmu when it comes to comparable Illinois guards. Meanwhile, Steward is just a half inch taller than 6-foot, but the Whitney Young senior boasts a 6-6 1 / 2 wingspan.
Wingspans are of particular interest. A glance at the players on the current Illinois roster clearly shows Underwood’s preference for long athletes. Guys like Tevian Jones, Alan Griffin, Giorgi Bezhanishvili and Dosunmu certainly fit that mold.
A few notes on the various wingspans of Illinois recruiting targets at the Nike Skills Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif.:
— Former Morgan Park guard Nimari Burnett had the biggest height-to-wingspan difference of any prospect in attendance. The 6-2 Class of 2020 recruit measured in with a 6-9 1 / 2 wingspan.
— Class of 2021 guard Jaden Hardy (6-3 with a 6-10 wingspan) and Class of 2020 guard Caleb Love (6-2 with a 6-9 wingspan) were right behind Burnett for biggest differential.
— Class of 2020 forward Jaemyn Brakefield’s wingspan is just 1 / 4 inch longer than his 6-7 frame.