Lance Whitaker Exploding On B-Ball Scene

With the basketball season now in full bloom, it is exciting to see young talent emerge. One of the top sophomores in the state is Bartlett's Lance Whitaker. He recently scored 33 points, pulled down 8 rebounds and handed out 5 assists in a win over Grayslake Central. Whitaker visited Illinois for a game recently.

Lance Whitaker is a 6'-2" 180 pound combo guard. The sophomore is garnering high major interest and visited Illinois for its game against the SIU Salukis.

Whitaker was able to see the facilities and talk to the coaches.

"When we first got there Coach (Sean) Harrington showed us their practice facilities. We walked through and saw the coaches' offices and went to the shoot around. We watched the team get ready for the game. That was one of my favorite parts. I talked to a couple of the coaches. After the game we went back in the locker room with the team."

The guard was impressed with the Illini offense and how the team performed.

"Even the young players were impressive. They obviously have some good coaching over there. I like the offense they run too. I liked how their fast break was structured. It was something I haven't really seen before. In practice, they were doing some cool stuff too."

Whitaker said his visit was a perfect 10. He enjoyed the game with his dad and cousin, who is a student at Illinois. Overall the visit went great, and he is a fan of the Illinois program.

"I was really impressed. It was one of my favorite things I have seen so far. How the program is run and the fan base there, I was very impressed with that. It seemed like they had a lot of support from the community."

The super sophomore is hearing from several other high majors.

"Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, and Boston College."

His AAU Coach Mike Mullins of the Illinois Wolves added that DePaul and Michigan are also involved. Whitaker says he has made trips to Northwestern, Purdue, and Illinois. When asked where Illinois ranks on his list, Whitaker responds favorably.

"Definitely toward the top of the list."

Whitaker states there are a few factors that will be important in his college choice, including distance from home.

"I don't want to be too far from my family. The support from the fans and community, and the coaching too (are important)."

When asked if there were any schools he grew up rooting for, Whitaker says he has followed two Big Ten programs closely.

"I have always supported the Illini and Purdue."

Coach Mullins describes his point guard as a power guard who can do a variety of things on the floor.

"Lance is going to play a lot of point guard for his high school, which will certainly improve his ball handling and decision making. He is such a physical and strong player. He has the ability to get his shoulders by people, get to the rim and draw contact.

"He is a terrific offensive rebounder. He has really worked hard on his ball handling skills and perimeter shooting. He had a really good fall for us. He has a body that looks stronger than a sophomore in high school usually has. He has a good head for the game and a good feel for how to play," Coach Mullins says.

Whitaker played a major role for his Bartlett team last year and was put into a new position by playing point guard at the varsity level.

"It was a good experience for me. It forced me to grow. I learned a lot of things playing point as a freshman as far as ball handling. I never really played point before. I was kind of forced into that position, but it really helped my game," Whitaker stated.

His AAU coach was impressed with how he handled the point guard responsibilities at a young age.

"He did a very good job in a very tough position as a freshman," Mullins says.

Whitaker enjoys being the vocal leader of his team.

"When I am on the sidelines, I want to try to remain vocal. On the court, I have to stay vocal to communicate with my teammates so they know what is going on. I am giving them encouragement from a different aspect than the coaches.

Sometime it is better to hear it from one of your fellow players than the coach. Just keep vocal and make sure everyone is communicating on the floor."

The Illinois Wolves program has had a history of producing great guard play including current Illini point guard Demetri McCamey and future floor general Tracy Abrams. Whitaker hopes to be the next in line.

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