Tyler Wideman is a powerfully built 6'-7" center who is aggressive on the block. He is an intimidating presence on both ends of the floor. The big man made his presence felt as a freshman, and several Big 10 schools are showing heavy interest in him. He visited Illinois this past weekend.
The rising sophomore from St. John, Indiana, discussed his visit to Illinois.
"When I first got there, I went into assistant coach Jay Price's office. I talked to him for awhile. Coach Weber came, and I talked to him for about 15 minutes. They took me on a tour of the campus, and I played in an open gym."
In the open gym, he went head to head with incoming Illini freshman Mike Shaw. Playing against the current Illinois players was a good experience for Wideman.
"They were really quick and strong. I think I held up pretty good."
Price is his lead recruiter. Wideman shared their conversation in Champaign Saturday.
"We talked about when he came to see me in high school during open gym, and my grades."
What does the Illinois staff like in his game?
"They like how I am physical and how I post up."Wideman was impressed with Illini.
"It is a nice campus, with nice facilities and nice coaches."
According to Wideman, the Illini are significantly interested in him but did not offer a scholarship on the trip.
"They said they are going to watch some of our games in July and see me practice sometime."
This is not the first time the Lake Central High School product has visited Illinois.
"I went there last year with my team for their team camp. It was nice to go with my high school team and see all the facilities and meet the coaches."
What schools are showing early interest?
"A lot of the Big 10 schools, especially Purdue and Illinois."
Purdue has already extended an offer. Wideman has taken visits to Indiana and Michigan besides West Lafayette and Champaign.Wideman averaged 10 points and 9 rebounds per game last season for Lake Central. He was happy with how he transitioned to high school basketball.
"It was pretty good. We lost in the second round, but it was a good experience to play varsity basketball as a freshman. I think I played well. There is a very big difference from eighth grade to varsity. Players are a lot stronger in both their upper and lower bodies."
This spring, Wideman played with Meanstreets Wilburn at the 15 and Under level alongside several other Division I prospects.
"It has been pretty good. We have been winning a lot of big tournaments. My play has had its ups and downs. It is starting to go good now. I am getting back healthy and getting back in shape."
Wideman was particularly impressive at the Chicagohoops Memorial Day Classic. He banged hard in the post, fighting for position and rebounds. Despite his girth, he is surprisingly nimble on his feet and quick with his post moves. He knows how to score in the paint.
He showed off a nice feel for passing the ball out of double teams and a soft touch around the hoop. Wideman does most of his damage on the boards and blocking shots. He snatches rebounds at a high rate. Defensively, he positions himself well and swats shots.
With a premium on strong post players, especially in the Big 10, expect Wideman to become a hot name in July when college coaches see him in person.