DeJuan Marrero is a 6'-5" forward from Gary, Indiana. He is one of a small group to hold a scholarship offer in the class of 2012. Illinois likes his toughness and intangibles. Marrero would bring a unique skill set and attributes to the Illini.
He talked about his most recent visit to Illinois.
"It went awesome. I enjoyed it as usual. Great coaching staff."
It can't get much better than perfect according to Marrero!
"I would give it a 10."
The Bowman Academy forward described his day.
"I came in around 3:00 pm when it was raining. I talked to Coach (Bruce) Weber a little. He was throwing out the first pitch at the baseball game.
"Coach (Jerrance) Howard took me on a tour of everything on the campus. I got a good look at the sights and got to see the students. We then went to the rec center and dorms. I then went to the educational part, which is the most important part."
It was important for Marrero to see the academic side of Illinois and how the school would be able to help him.
"It was good. I like the mix of athletics and academics. That is the number one priority when I commit to a school, is the education. They do a nice job with that. They have a guy they assign everybody. They were talking about how the tutors were top notch."
The visit then shifted to the basketball court, where the forward played pickup games.
"I scrimmaged with the players. That was a good thing. I went against Demetri McCamey. I guarded him. I worked on my jump shot and driving to the basket. It was exciting."
What did he learn by playing with the Illini team and getting to know them more?
"I learned the players are good. They treat you like family."
The coaches have noticed significant improvement in Marrero's game over the years.
"They said my game has developed and is more of a mature game."
Marrero had a chance to sit down with Weber and talked about their discussion.
"He talked about his expectations. I told him my mind was open with the recruitment. He said when choosing a school, look for the school that best fits you basketball and education-wise."
The Illini have been recruiting Marrero heavily since he was a freshman.
"They are still recruiting me hard and would really like to have me. I told the coaching staff I appreciate it, and I am keeping my options open. When I do make my list, Illinois will be on it."
Marrero has been to numerous games over the years at Illinois. He has seen the passion Illini fans have up close and personal. This stands out to the junior.
"It is a great atmosphere. The crowd is amazing. I love it when I go down there."
There has been much discussion on what role Marrero would play in the Illinois offense. He believes it would work out nicely.
"I think I fit pretty well. I know the guys. It is an up-and-down offense. They play very hard, which is my type of game."
Would he rather be a small forward or power forward at the college level?
"It really doesn't matter because I can play all positions. I have to keep working hard and pushing myself for whatever Coach needs me to do. Since the end of the season, I have been working on my rebounding, perimeter game and ball handling when they let me run point."
What would Illini coaches want from him if he attended Illinois?
"Bringing energy to the team and motivating them."
Marrero takes it to heart he is one of the few prospects to hold an Illini offer in his class.
"I am blessed to have that. I told him I am going to continue working hard."
Along with his campus visit, the UI staff has recently been out to see him at Bowman. Assistant coach Jay Price has been keeping in contact with him over the phone. The prospect and lead recruiter have built a tight relationship.
"I talked to coach Jay Price recently. He is a great guy."
The same schools are still in the mix for Marrero, and he has added a few more to the mix.
"Illinois, Indiana, Wake Forest, Xavier, Miami, Tennessee, Dayton, Kansas, Florida, North Carolina State, and Purdue."
Many of those schools have offered including Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Xavier, and Memphis. Any favorites?
"They are all the same right now."
Recruiting fans will have to wait a while for Marrero's decision. He is sticking to his plan on when he is going to announce.
"Probably August or September."
Marrero is coming off a season at Bowman where he was asked to step up and take more of a load as scorer and leader. He discussed his junior campaign.
"It went well. I averaged 22 points and 15 rebounds. We lost in the sectional championship, but we are looking to get better for next year and make another state run with all our guys back."
His team was extremely young after it lost many seniors. He had to become the leader and continue what he was taught as an underclassman.
"It was a learning experience after all my guys left. They were all seniors. I was blessed to have them teach me. I passed that on to the younger kids."
Marrero is enjoying his final season with the Spiece Indy Heat on the AAU circuit."It is going well. We just finished at the EYBL, where we finished 3-2. We are 3rd in our pool so far. We are looking to play better and carry on throughout the AAU season."
Marrero brings a relentless motor and energy to the game. The forward is constantly moving, attacking, and doing the little things needed to win. He rebounds well for his size. Marrero has nice length, which allows him to fight on the boards. He can handle the ball and shows a nice passing touch. His basketball IQ is also high.
It looks like Illini fans will have to wait a few more months for the much-awaited decision.