DeJuan Marrero, a 6'5" wing from Bowman Academy in Gary, Indiana, has made numerous trips to the University of Illinois. One of his recent ones was to Illini Midnight Madness.
"Coach Jay Price always told me to come down," Marrero said. "I didn't make it during the summer because I had an ankle injury."
Back to health, Marrero was eager to see the Illini again as they were about to kick off a very promising season.
"We came down to Illinois Midnight Madness because I like the school and I love the crowd. I love the excitement here. The crowd is amazing, and they treat me like family."
Marrero was one of many recruits in attendance. He spoke a bit about his current recruiting situation.
"Right now all schools are the same, but my mom, my coach and I will be narrowing it down. We'll discuss it and come up with a top five schools."
Many big programs are after the scrappy, hard-nosed player, but he knows at least one program that will definitely make the cut.
"Illinois is definitely in my top five schools."
However, Marrero is in no rush to make a decision. But he has a pretty good idea of when things will take place.
"I'll probably decide after my last AAU season. I'm just waiting on that and taking it slowly."
After winning the state title last year, Marrero and his Bowman Academy teammates aren't letting off the gas pedal and are keeping up the intensity in order to improve.
"Bowman is going to be pretty decent. We've been working hard practicing Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6 AM."
Now a junior, Marrero sees his role increasing even more this year and is more than ready to shoulder the responsibility associated with being a team leader.
"I'll most definitely be the go-to guy. My teammates are looking to me to be a leader. I'm still going to play my role in rebounding and putting back shots. I've been working on my perimeter game and attacking the basket."
As for the possibility of repeating as state champions, Marrero thinks that his team can rise to the challenge.
"Most definitely we have a chance to repeat. I have faith in my teammates. We're bigger and stronger this year. We're looking forward to this upcoming season, especially the game against (Chicago) Simeon on November 27th."
After that, it won't be long before Illini fans can catch another glimpse of this prospect. Marrero and his Bowman teammates will travel to the Assembly Hall yet again this year when they participate in the Deron Williams Shootout at the Hall as they take on Mycheal Henry and Chicago's Orr High School in what promises to be a high-octane matchup.