DeJuan Marrero Makes Another Trip To UI

The Fighting Illini basketball team has limited scholarships for 2012. Some suggest Gary Bowman forward DeJuan Marrero is the main target in the class for the Illini. He played well in Bowman's loss at the Shootout At The Hall and talked about his thoughts on the Illini afterward.

DeJuan Marrero is a 6'-5" combo forward from Bowman Academy in Gary, Indiana. He has been on the Illinois campus multiple times and is a viable possibility for the class of 2012.

Marrero is very high on the Fighting Illini as well. He likes the relationship he has built with the staff and the atmosphere.

"They treat me like family when I come. It is a nice atmosphere down here. Coach Jay Price has been recruiting me since I was in 8th grade down in Las Vegas. He is a great guy, so is coach (Bruce) Weber and the whole Illini staff. It is great to come down here."

The junior has visited Champaign several times since his freshman year including Midnight Madness visits, team camps, the Shootout At The Hall games, and a recent trip to see the Illini take on North Carolina. DeJuan has enjoyed every visit.

"I loved the atmosphere. Orange everywhere. I came to the Midnight Madness. This is my second year around. I just love it down here. Great atmosphere."

Marrero confirmed the Illini have picked up the recruitment of him in recent months. His timetable for a decision has not changed. He is sticking to the plan he and his mother laid out.

"I have a lot of schools involved with me, but I only have to pick one. Illinois will be in my top. I won't be making my decision until after the AAU season, which is after this summer going into my high school senior year.

"I have to keep working hard. I like coming down to Illinois. It is a great atmosphere down here. I only have to pick one college."

There has been a string of commitments from many of the top underclassmen in Indiana over the last couple of months from top players such as Yogi Ferrell, Hanner Perea, and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera from the states class of 2012. Marrero does not feel pressured at all by the recent trend of his fellow state of Indiana underclassmen pulling the early trigger on commitments.

"A lot of kids in Indiana are committing left and right, but I don't even look at that. They are all different people. They are individuals that look at it different. I have got a long way to go, and I'm keeping my options open."

The Illini have recruited Indiana over recent years but have never been able to land the big commitment. Bowman's star says the Illinois coaches have made him very aware of this.

"They said if I came here it will make history because I would be the only Indiana kid. I have several other schools, and we are all individuals in Indiana. So I have a long time."

Marrero says he is looking for a combination of several factors in finding the right college fit for him as a player and student-athlete.

"Education would be the first. Second would be an up and down tempo. I like running up and down in transition."

The 2012 star has many colleges coming after him besides Illinois. He listed some of the schools that are recruiting him the hardest.

"Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina State, Xavier, Dayton, Miami, Michigan."

Where does Illinois stand in this list of basketball heavyweights?

"They would be in my top six."

Bowman coach Marvin Rea has assembled an extremely tough schedule for his young squad in 2010-2011. Marrero and his teammates recently met up with Chicago power Simeon. He believes the schedule will help them long term.

"We have a tough schedule. First game we played against Simeon. We lost by 15 at home. It was a good matchup against Jabari Parker. Second game we played against South Bend Washington at home. We won that one. Then we came to the Illinois showcase and lost by two.

"We are a young team, and we are trying to make another run at postseason for state. We have got to keep working hard. We have a tough schedule."

With such a young team, the junior has had to take on a leadership role.

"I have to bring more leadership on the court and off the court."

Marrero played well in his team's two-point loss to Tracy Abrams and Mt. Carmel last weekend. He notched 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, and 1 steal.

He played very strong and used his strength around the hoop both scoring and on the boards. He runs the floor hard and has a good motor, hustling for several loose balls. In stretches of games the junior can carry his team with his scoring and rebounding.

Marrero is trying to transition his game out toward the perimeter. His jump shot is a work in progress and says he is continually working on it. He knows high school defenders are going to attempt to take away his dominant post game, so he has to continue to develop his jumper. How many shots a day is he putting up?

"800 on the gun. Non-stop. Mid-range and three point shot because they started double teaming down on the post."

It is obvious why Marrero is such an intriguing prospect for Illinois and other big time programs. He has received much attention at an early stage, but he continues to work hard and improve his game. He is becoming a leader and is continuing to add to his game.

Illini Inquirer Top Stories