Keita Bates-Diop is a 6'-6" combo forward from Normal University High School. The class of 2104 forward plays mostly JV on a team that traditionally plays upperclassmen on varsity. Although he is only playing limited minutes at the varsity level, he has big-time potential and took a recent trip to Champaign to check out Illinois.
Bates-Diop attended the game against Iowa where the Illini were victorious. He liked what he saw.
"It was very exciting to meet the coaches and see the game up close like I wouldn't normally see it."
"We talked about how the season has been going and what I'm doing this summer."
Although he is only a freshman, he is a bright young man who is already researching the schools and basketball programs he might consider attending, including looking into the University of Illinois.
"I knew a lot of things about it because I researched it and heard a lot about it from different people."
Even though it is three years away, he already has an idea of what he is looking for in the school he eventually chooses.
"Relatively close to home and a good engineering school."
Peoria Irish AAU coach Gavin Sullivan talked about how his young forward enjoyed the experience of attending a major college basketball game as a recruit.
"He enjoyed himself. It was his first time on campus as a recruit. He loved the atmosphere and talking to the coaches afterward."
Sullivan says the fact Illinois is the home state school gives them name recognition with the young prospect. This and the fact a trio of former Illini guards that kids Bates-Diop's age idolize doesn't hurt either.
"I think being in Illinois is a key thing. He likes how they play. He grew up with the Dee, Deron, and Luther era of Illinois. Any kid coming up in his age group thinks about those guys. I think he is excited about Illinois or any other program being interested in him."
Bates-Diop says he believes the strength of his game is his shooting.
"Shooting from mid-range and long-range when I am open."
His AAU coach said this plus his ability to handle the ball at his size are the two aspects that stand out in his game at this stage. And he also already has a 7'-0" wingspan!
This combination of size, length, and ability to handle the ball on the perimeter could allow him to develop into a point forward role at the next level. He has a long way to go, but Sullivan could see Bates-Diop develop into a role similar to that of a current Illini player.
"He is kind of in the mold right now where he could possibly turn into a Jereme Richmond type of player as far as being a point forward type. His IQ is pretty good, and his ball handling is good.
His length and size is already high major if he decides to put some time and work ethic in, which I think he will for sure. It is going to be one of those things about how he develops and reacts to playing the wing versus the post."
Sullivan talked about how this season has gone for his young forward.
"It has been good. He dresses varsity for Normal U-High and has got in a few games. The sophomore team went close to undefeated."
Bates-Diop is happy with his first season of basketball at the high school level.
"I did really well. I averaged about 17 ppg, and for the varsity I started getting more playing time. The JV team finished at 21-1."
Sullivan believes once high majors see Bates-Diop with the Irish on the AAU circuit, he will become a hot commodity.
"I think he is going to surprise a lot of people this summer."
If he does blow up, Illinois can say they were there before anyone else. Look for the Illini coaches to track the progress of this young and promising prospect.