Another Talented Peorian Now On Horizon

Peoria Richwoods is one of the top high school basketball programs in the state of Illinois. The Illini received a commitment from current senior Bill Cole from this school and recently received a visit from Richwoods' sophomore point guard Preston Wells.

Preston Wells is a 6'-0" 165 lbs point guard in the Class of 2013 who has the ability to play the combo guard spot at the high school level. Wells was part of a Class 3A state runner up team as a freshman and looks to take on a bigger role as a sophomore. He is starting to gain recruiting interest from Division One schools including Illinois.

Preston visited the Illinois campus for Midnight Madness with his AAU coach. He really enjoyed the visit and got to experience what Illinois basketball is about.

"We sat in on their practice. We watched their competitive nature and how hard they go and some of the drills they did. They fed us, and we then took a bus over to the arena where they played," Wells said.

What were the floor general's thoughts on the festivities at Huff Hall?

"I enjoyed them a lot."

Peoria Richwood's first year head coach Will Smith said it showed his young leader what it is going to take to play at the next level.

"That's a high caliber Division One. It's not just any team, Illinois is top 10 preseason in the nation. It was a great learning experience to see that atmosphere."

Smith says Illinois's recruitment is still in the very early stages with Wells.

"I'm not really sure how heavy Illinois is on him. He is being recruited by Division One schools. I know they have interest in him."

Wells and his coach said there are a few schools that have shown interest in his services including Illinois, DePaul, Xavier, Northern Illinois, and Eastern Illinois.

Preston commented that environment of the school, academics, and relationship with the coaches will play a major role in where he eventually chooses, but right now he is just enjoying the process.

"I'm just going along with it right now. I'm just enjoying the experience."

Despite the high interest in Wells, he did not play major minutes for his high school varsity team last season. They were led by a veteran group of seven seniors who took the school to the state championship game. Coach Smith believes playing behind such exceptional guard play as a freshman will help Preston tremendously in the future.

"I think it helped his maturity. It's a big jump from grade school to high school. Learning behind those guys about what it takes to be a varsity player. Those guys were great teachers. They gave 100% every day in practice. They competed every day like it was game day. I think he did get the learning experience of things you need to do to be great. I think he got that from those guys."

Preston sees his role expanding as a sophomore.

"I think I will be a floor leader. I will be a big contributor on the scoring and defensive side, along with being a leader out there."

Wells tries to model his game after NBA stars Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo. He likes to get others involved.

"I'm a point guard who can score. I like to get my teammates open and have everyone involved in the game. I don't like to do it by myself."

Smith raves about all of Wells's game, but one aspect stands out.

"I think the best aspect of his game is his shooting. His three point range is from the three point line to about 26-feet consistently. It makes him hard to guard when you have to guard a guy that far out on the floor."

The 10th grader put in hard work this summer on the basketball court with his AAU team, the Peoria Irish, along with his high school team. Coach Smith saw significant strides in his sophomore.

"He had a great summer. He got the system down more. He improved in every area of the game: ball handling, shooting, passing. He's got more quickness, a better vertical leap, he's stronger. He had a good offseason."

Smith believes he will have a special talent at the point guard position for the next three years.

"He's probably one of the top prospects in the sophomore class. I would say in the downstate area for sure."

Richwoods and Wells will get their first challenge at the Tournament of Champions in Washington, Illinois on November 23 against Merrill High School from Wisconsin and Virginia commitment Paul Jesperson. Coach Smith expects big things from his team.

"We have a good nucleus coming back. All these guys have played together for the last three years. I'm anticipating a pretty good team actually."

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