CHAMPAIGN — Luke Goode has settled into a regular routine this fall.
School shifted online at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Homestead because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so Goode grabs breakfast at home and attends his classes virtually in the morning.
Daily workouts follow near midday — first a lift and then to the gym to put up anywhere between 500 and 1,000 shots depending on how he’s feeling. Goode’s schedule wraps with an early afternoon basketball practice, as Homestead prepares for what it hopes will be its 2020-21 season.
Wednesday morning required a slight deviation from what’s been Goode’s regular routine. The Class of 2021 four-star guard had extra business to take care of in the morning. Namely, signing his National Letter of Intent to play at Illinois next season.
“It’s a surreal situation just seeing all these people growing up in front of me — some of my cousins and good friends — that have been able to put pen to paper and be official to a university,” Goode said. “Now that I can do it, it’s pretty cool to say I’m signed and officially official with Illinois.”
Goode is the first official member of Illinois’ 2021 recruiting class. The 6-foot-7, 200-pound guard checked a lot of the boxes Illini coach Brad Underwood was looking for in the class. Specific to Goode, like big wing and shooter, but not just a shooter, and more of the general attributes Underwood values in every prospective recruit, like good passer and high basketball IQ.
“Luke’s a young man that we’ve been eye-balling for quite some time,” Underwood said Wednesday afternoon. “He’s your typical gym rat. We call those guys, ‘Everyday guys,’ and he fits that perfectly. He’s got that toughness, competitive mentality that we really like.”
Goode’s daily schedule has been different this fall without football and allowed him to be more of a “gym rat.” An all-state quarterback at Homestead in 2019, Goode passed on football this year to turn his focus to basketball. It’s allowed him to be more basketball-oriented.
“During football season, I really didn’t do too much basketball,” Goode said. “I shot on the gun or went to the gym maybe twice a week. My focus was on football. As quarterback of the team, I felt like all my focus needed to be on that sport. I didn’t want people to see me as, ‘I’m just trying to get to basketball season.’”
Homestead basketball coach Chris Johnson, who is also dean of students and the Spartans’ assistant athletic director, was fine with Goode’s football pursuits the last couple years. He’s also seen improvement from his top player since basketball became his priority.
“I would never tell a student-athlete at the high-school level not to play,” Johnson said. “I never did, and I won’t. Did it hurt him last year? I can’t say. Do I think he’s a better player this year? Yes. I think he’s put in the time, put in the effort and he’s getting himself in the weight room.
“He’s a big-time quarterback also, but in life you make decisions, and he decided to put his full focus on basketball. When you’re a shooter, you need to get in the gym and shoot to make yourself better to play at the next level.”
Goode forgoing football this fall, of course, has allowed him to do just that.
He’s been in the gym every day. Lifting every day.
It’s more like the schedule he’ll have when he arrives at Illinois ahead of the 2021-2022 season.
“It’s going to be a lot harder work and a lot more work in college,” Goode said. “It’s kind of a full-time job is what most people describe it at. Being able to prepare myself and my body for the next level as soon as possible is definitely something that will be beneficial to me.”
Underwood has already seen some of the benefits of Goode’s basketball-only fall. The Illinois coaching staff obviously keeps in touch on a regular basis for the full rundown, but the ability to watch Goode play (virtually, of course) showed exactly what he’s accomplished the last few months.
“One of the things that’s been very evident is his ability to stay in the weight room,” Underwood said. “Luke’s been growing like crazy. He’s all of 6-7. We watched him through some video stuff in an event he was at. It was like, ‘My goodness, his shoulders have filled out all of a sudden.’
“It’s been great for him to do that. It’s allowed him to just focus singularly on certain aspects of his game. I’m sure he misses football, but basketball has been his love and passion for some time. Now he’s just getting ready to blossom on the basketball court.”