Jaylon Tate is a point guard who understands the game well and runs his team like a true floor general. He can also hit the mid-range jumper and break his man off the dribble when needed. Illinois likes what he brings to the table as a total package.
Tate visited the UI campus Monday with his mom, sister and cousin. He remembers his day.
"When we got there, we talked to some of their academic counselors. I came back and played with some of the current Illinois players. Then Jerrance Howard drove us around the campus. We got to see the whole campus.
He showed us the apartments that the freshmen stay in for the summer. He talked to us about the background of Illinois and the campus. After that we came back to the office, and I talked to Bruce Weber. I got a feel for what he was looking for."
The visit ended with an in-depth conversation with Illinois head coach Bruce Weber.
"He talked to me about how my summer was going and how he liked how I finished up strong. He talked about how he would look to me as a player on his team. He said they need a point guard and another ball handler.
In the past they have only had one with Demetri McCamey, and now with just Tracy Abrams. He wants me to play my game and be a floor general. He likes my hustle and how I am a team player. He also likes the poise I have."
The Illini did not offer him a scholarship on the visit, but Weber did give Tate every indication they like him and laid out what their future is looking like at point guard.
"He said they were going to see if Crandall (Head) or D.J. (Richardson) can grow into being a backup point guard for Tracy. If they do, around July, they are going to really look to offer me because they would not look for a point guard in 2012 because they wouldn't need to."
Tate enjoyed playing in open gym against the Illinois players. He has played with or against many of them for a long time. It was like old times at De La Salle going up against Illini freshman Mike Shaw.
"It was basically the whole team except for Meyers (Leonard). It was a great experience because I got a feel for the guys and talk to them after we played. I enjoyed it. I knew most of the players from before. I think I did well. At first I was a little nervous, but after that it was just like playing open gym."
Tate shares a special relationship with Illinois assistant coach Jerrance Howard. The coach is a big fan of his game.
"He has always liked me because he has watched me play since I was younger. He likes how I have grown and matured into more of a leader. He knows I can be a point guard."
Tate has been to many games, but this visit gave him the opportunity to see more of the University of Illinois.
"It was nice to see the whole campus. It would be a great atmosphere. It was also nice to meet their academic counselors and see how strong they are with that off the court."
He talked about what he was looking for on the visit.
"I was trying to look for a place that I could consider my home away from my current home. I wanted to see if I would feel comfortable. I felt that, and I have really close connection with coach Weber and coach Howard."
Tate currently holds offers from Xavier, Northwestern, and Providence. He discussed schools in the mix for his services.
"Illinois, Marquette, Akron, West Virginia, Tennessee, Northwestern, Arizona, Northern Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, and DePaul."
Tate recently competed in the Nike Elite 100 against top underclassmen in the country on the campus of St. Louis University.
"It was a really good experience. It was a really good camp with a lot of competition. I felt I had a good showing, and I enjoyed myself."
He has been rumored to be transferring to Chicago Simeon. Tate says no decision has been made yet, although he knows he will not be returning to De La Salle next year.
"I am doing what is best for me. It is really a family choice. There is no decision made right now about where I will play next year. As far as De La Salle, they did a lot for me and I appreciate that. I love the De La Salle alumni and the school. Sometimes in life you need changes, and this is better for my future and is a family decision."
Tate is one of the top prospects in the state, and most any high school or college would be lucky to have him running the show from them. Illinois is without doubt under serious consideration for his services.