Xavier Rathan-Mayes is an explosive 6'-2" shooting guard from Huntington Prep in West Virginia. This is the same prep school that produced Illinois freshman Ibby Djimde. Illini assistant Jerrance Howard stopped by Huntington Prep Tuesday and before he knew it, Rathan-Mayes had an Illinois offer.
"Last week I heard Illinois was interested in me. I called coach Howard, and he said he would be here Tuesday, which was today, to watch me play. I talked to Coach (Bruce) Weber, and he said Coach Howard would be here. We had our practice today, and I played real well. I wasn't missing today! After practice I called Coach Howard, and he said they had officially offered me a scholarship to Illinois."
The junior was pleased, to say the least.
"I was very excited. I have heard a lot of great things about Illinois and Coach Weber. I have also heard a lot of great things from Coach Howard."
He discusses how his conversation with Coach Howard went on the phone Tuesday.
"The first thing he said was, ‘I knew you were good, but I didn't know you were that good.' He was going on about how I played today and what he feels I can bring to their program. He gave me a couple of tips and pointers on things I need to work on."
In their talk last week, Weber issued the guard a challenge.
"Coach Weber said he has heard a lot about me and knows that I am a high profile player. He asked me if anyone could guard me? My answer to him was no. He said, If that is the case, your team shouldn't lose a game and you should pick your teammates up, making them better.' I have been taking his advice and using that on the court."
Rathan-Mayes is in the introductory stages in learning about the Illinois program, but he knows one key fact about the school.
"I don't know to much. I just got introduced to it. I will do my research on it and find out more. I heard they have a crazy fan base. That is always a good thing. To have that kind of fans supporting the players is one thing I will be looking for in a school."
Huntington Prep will be playing in the high profile Tournament of Champions in Washington, Illinois, over Thanksgiving week. This creates a great opportunity to learn more about the program.
"Coach Howard said when we get there, they would like me to come to the University and visit while we are playing in Illinois. I talked to my mom about it. She said that is something we can look into and definitely do."
What kind of player is Rathan-Mayes?
"I am a great leader that can score the basketball and pass. With me it is all about my team first. Without them I am nothing. I am working on certain aspects of my game right now and trying to become a better player."
He talks about his strengths.
"I can shoot the basketball and get to the basket, where I can create for others on my team. I can be a great leader."
His high school team is one of the most talented teams in the nation heading into the 2011-2012 campaign. Along with Rathan-Mayes, they sport the top sophomore in the nation, Andrew Wiggins.
"We have a great team this year! We have guys that can do everything including rebounding, shoot, and get to the basket. When we first got here it was a little bit of a shock because we all came from schools where we were the main guy on our team. We realize it is not going to be like that here because we have such talented players. I think we are going to be real special this year and win a national championship!"
Illinois is going to have a lot of competition for the junior. His offer list is very impressive.
"I have offers from Louisville, Kansas, Oregon, Baylor, Arizona, Florida State, NC State, Memphis, Penn State, Marquette, USC, St. John's, Texas, Washington, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and Illinois."
He claims no favorites at this point and is planning to make a decision around a year from now. He does know a few factors that will weigh heavily in his decision.
"I want a great coaching staff that has a great record behind them. I want to be able to go in and make an impact on that school right away. I want to help that school win a national championship. I want a great fan base too. I like the pressure."