Illini Enter Race For 2014 Texas Superstar

To be considered elite, you have to recruit the best. Illinois jumped into the race for top point guard in the nation in 2014. After seeing Grace Prep, Texas, point guard Emmanuel Mudiay Thursday, they pulled the trigger and offered the 5-Star. Mudiay breaks down the offer, the Deron Williams connection, and his close friendship with a high profile Illinois recruit.

Emmanuel Mudiay is a 6'-4" point guard who had scouts raving all summer long with his play on the AAU circuit. He has so many physical tools, including vision, strength and athleticism, that he is considered one of the top players nationally. Scout has him as the 5th ranked prospect in the class of 2014.

Thursday, Illinois coach Jerrance Howard saw him play in open gym and came away very impressed. Mudiay was offered a scholarship after the coach left.

"We were at practice, and they called my coach and said they offered," Mudiay explained.

He is grateful for the offer from the Illini.

"It way crazy. I am grateful God blessed me with that opportunity. I told my mom and the rest of my family. They were happy for me."

Howard has been seen at Mudiay's games and has been keeping a close eye on him.

"I knew they were at the LeBron camp watching me. There were a lot of coaches there. They like the way I play. I saw them at a couple other tournaments."

Although he did not talk with Howard Thursday, he has talked with him recently.

"He was a cool guy. He knows the style I play, and that is what Illinois does. I think I can fit in that system."

He is also a student of the game who has followed what Bruce Weber has done with his recent point guards.

"I know he got Coach of the Year when Deron Williams was there. After Deron Williams went there, I really started paying attention to them. I love Demetri McCamey's game. I study some of their games. I think Weber is a real good coach. He loves to win."

Texas a long way from Champaign. Will distance play a role in his choice?

"I don't think so. I have talked with my family about that. They said it is my decision whereever I want to go, but we will sit down and talk about that when the time comes."

Could the Illini get a visit from Mudiay in the near future?

"Yeah, no doubt about that."

The Illinois offer made quite an impression on him, jumping them up his list of heavy hitters.

"Since they offered, they automatically jumped into one of my top 10 schools. I am keeping my options open, as I am real young. There are some I like, but there are plenty more to come."

He talks about his current offers.

"I have a lot from the Pac-12, most of the Big 12, Providence, Marquette, some from the Big East, LSU, and lots more. Approximately 30 offers."

Is anyone jumping out at the moment?

"I really like North Carolina, Texas, Baylor, Arizona, and Kentucky."

Mudiay breaks down what he is looking for in a school.

"A school that can push me and get me to the next level because I want to be a pro one day. I pray for that everyday. I am looking for a school with good people that are going to push me. I am looking for a school that will be there 100% for me and my family."

He also discusses his timeline for a decision.

"I can't tell right now. I am just trying to get my game at the level where I can be the best I can be. I am going to keep working on my shot. It is going to be a long time."

One of the first connections Illini fans will make is that Mudiay is a big physical point guard from Texas with great vision. Remind you of anyone say circa 2005 in the Orange and Blue?

"I think I play like Deron Williams a little bit. We are both strong guards that can score the ball and find our teammates at the same time. He is bigger obviously because he is in the pros. He is from Texas and went up there.

"They said he loved it up there and got to play against some of the best players in the Big 10. One of my good friends, (Jahlil) Okafor, says he likes it up there. I am going to talk with him some more and see how he likes it."

Mudiay has become close friends with Okafor.

"I met Jahlil at Fab Frosh Camp. I always heard his name around the circuit when we were younger. They always said he played with Team Ferrari, and I wanted to know who he was. I saw him playing one day, and he was a freak! He is real good.

I got to meet him at Fab Frosh. It was between him and me as to who got the MVP, and I ended up winning it. I think he is one of the best in our class. After Fab Frosh, we became friends on Facebook. He is like a brother to me that is in another state. I talk to him often. He works hard."

The two even discussed the possibility of pairing up.

"He wants to do the Fab Five one day. He wants to make the new Fab Five. We were talking about that one day, and it stuck with me. I wonder if he still wanted to do that."

Could that be at Illinois?

"We were talking about that. We were trying to see what would be best for all of us."

Who were the other three in the Fab Five?

"It was Theo Pinson, Dakari Johnson and Tyler Ulis."

That's a pretty impressive list considering it includes the #2-#5 players in the nation! Mudiay is absolutely worthy of the recognition as one of the top players in the nation. Some are even saying he is the best point guard since Derrick Rose and could be a future top draft choice. He has a big time game!

"From what I hear, I am a nice point guard that can find teammates on the court and can score the ball at will. I am going to just keep pushing myself."

InsideIllini and Scout were at the Nike 100 to see Mudiay prove himself against the best in the nation.

"The Elite 100 was fun. When on the court, we got to do what we love. It was real fun. I got to play against the best players in the country from 2013 and 2014. It really made me better. I was blessed and lucky enough to go to LeBron. It blew my mind away! I got to meet LeBron and talk to him. I got to play against the best players in 2012."

One of the most impressive things about this young man is that as talented as he is, he does not let it go to his head and has a drive that is special.

"I am on a mission. I want to be on that mission until I am done playing basketball. There is always someone out there trying to work harder than you. I like to stay humble and hungry. That is one of my goals. I keep God first and stay humble. I like to play as if I'm not known and an underdog. I don't like when people hype me up. When I make it then people can start saying stuff."

Illinois is going to make a serious push in this recruitment and if they land him the Illini will have their next Texan superstar!

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