Paul Turner is a big-time scoring guard from St. Joseph's High School in Westchester and is one of the top 10 players in the state of Illinois in the class of 2014. The sophomore visited Champaign Saturday. Although he was not able to stay for the football game, he still had a great time.
"It was a very fun time. I had a great time playing with the guys. I came down, and we played like five games. After that we went to the tailgate. I left because I had to get back to Chicago."
He enjoyed playing against the current Illini teams and fellow recruits in some pick-up games.
"It went well. I knocked down a couple of shots and had a fun time. I think I held my own. It wasn't really anything new to me. I play against even older guys including pros."
At the tailgate, he became more acquainted with his fellow visitors.
"I got to know some of the guys from Indiana that were visiting in JaQuan (Lyle) and Trevon (Bluiett). I already knew Larry (Austin), so I hung out with him too."
He was extremely impressed with how Illinois fans came out in force to support their team.
"I found it amazing. They told me they had been out there since 6:00 am getting ready. When I was on my way down, I saw like 15 cars with people in all orange and part of Illini Nation. That brings a lot to the table."
One young Illinois fan especially wanted to meet Turner.
"When I was in the gym, a little kid came up to me and asked if he could get my autograph on his basketball. I was like ‘wow.' It was my first time signing an autograph."
Turner had a nice conversation with head coach Bruce Weber.
"We talked about my summer and how good I played. He came to our open gym Thursday and said it was interesting. He had never seen three hours of guys going at it like that and being competitive in an open gym."
Turner also had fun with assistant coach Jerrance Howard.
"We were joking around and stuff. He is real young, so he connects to a lot of the things I do now that he did during his time. That kind of stuff can help us with our future."
Illinois gets check marks in two key areas Turner desires in a program.
"I like their system a lot. I like how they bond, and the team is always laughing and smiling. Those are things I look for in a program."
The Illini have been recruiting Turner for over a year now, and they continue to build a relationship with him.
"They seem to be getting interested in me more and more."
He is in no rush to make a decision in the near future, but he is visiting several schools. He recently went to a Wisconsin football game and will be attending Memphis's midnight madness. Are there any leaders at this point?
"Illinois always, Purdue, Florida State, Marquette and Arizona."
"It went well. I did a lot of great things on the court, and it paid off. As a team and collective unit we played good, and that is all that matters at the end of the day."
St. Joe's is going to be one of the most talented young teams in the country with Turner, Jordan Ash, and Joffrey Brown playing major roles. Turner is excited to get the year kicked off.
"I feel confident going into the year. We are a young team as we only have two seniors. We have to keep our heads high. The fact we are young can be overwhelming at times, but we are going to fight through that and have a good season."
Turner remains a key recruiting target for the Illinois staff. Getting him on campus Saturday was a big coup for the program.