2013 Point Jalen James Discusses Illini Visit

The Fighting Illini hosted one of the top point guard targets in the state of Illinois regardless of class Thursday. Jalen James of Hope Academy made the trip down to Champaign to see what Illinois is all about. He spoke with InsideIllini about the visit and his feelings on Illinois.

Jalen James is a 6'-3" point guard from Hope Academy and the Illinois Wolves 16 and Under AAU squad. The explosive athlete described his visit to the Illinois campus Thursday afternoon.

"I got to the practice facility around 2:45 pm. I sat down and talked with Bruce Weber, Jerrance Howard and the rest of the coaches for a couple of minutes. Jerrance took me around campus and the academic center. I then came back and played with the team. I ended the visit by talking with Bruce."

James shared his conversation with Weber.

"We talked about the past year, the team coming up now and the point guard position. He said he was not going to offer on my first visit but probably next week or the end of August. I have a shootout there next week, so it is possible they offer next Wednesday or after they see me in July. I have a high idea they might offer next week."

Hope Academy will be competing in the Illinois team camp Wednesday at Illinois. This will give the staff another opportunity to evaluate James, something they haven't had much chance to do up to now.

"Jerrance said Bruce wants to see me play more before offering."

James has built a tight relationship with his lead recruiter.

"Jerrance is a cool guy. We talk about everything. He is like my cousin!"

The coaching staff has done an excellent job of recruiting and building a relationship with James and his family.

"They told me anything I need, just call them. If I ever have any problems to call them. I think our relationship is way better than other schools."

James made the trip with his grandfather, dad and brother. He was pleased to learn about the academic opportunities at the UI.

"I learned more about their academic center. I didn't know they had they had that big facility for all the players having study sessions and getting their homework done."

He also enjoyed playing against the current Illini team in an open gym.

"It was great. I played with Mycheal Henry and Mike Shaw. I knew them from the city because I am a city boy. I had great chemistry with the team and could see myself playing with them in a couple years."

Wednesday was another big day for James, the first day college coaches could make direct contact with juniors over the phone. It was an overwhelming experience.

"I had at least 25 coaches call me yesterday! It was crazy answering the same questions over and over again. I had two more coaches call me today, so I guess the phone calls will never stop from this point!"

It is no surprise, considering how well he has played this spring with the Illinois Wolves. Mike Mullins has worked extremely hard in developing his point guard because he knows how special he can be. James looked back at the spring.

"I started out rough. The competition jump from my high school to AAU was a big one. Coach Mullins told me the ball was in my hands, and he gave me the keys to the car. I was good after that."

James is not worried about playing in front of college coaches in July. He is excited to get back out on the court with the Wolves.

"Coach Mullins said to play my game. Coaches are going to be there. He said play your game and don't turn the ball over. That is what I am going to do. I am going to run the team, get my teammates open shots, and play my game."

He recently played in the Under Armour Best of the Best Camp in Atlanta alongside many of the top players in the nation.

"Me and big Jay (Simpson) went down to the Under Armour camp two weekends ago. We met a lot of players from around the country. We did the draft combine workout. I had the highest vision and second highest score in the 40 yard dash. Then we also played games. It was fun!"

Illinois fans will get an opportunity to see James up close Wednesday in Champaign at the Illinois team camp.

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