Illinois coaches have been watching Gavin Schilling since his return from Germany. A student at Chicago's De La Salle Institute, the alma mater of current Illini Mike Shaw, possesses a number of traits that make an ideal post player.
"The first thing is, I'm a big body. I'm strong and muscular. They notice I'm athletic and I'm a big man. I move really well and have some good post moves and a good mid-range shot. I can rebound well too."
Schilling knows he needs more than just post moves and size to be a well-rounded player.
"I have to work on my ball handling. That's definitely something I'll focus on."
An injury set Schilling back a bit over the summer, but he's working hard to make up for lost time.
"Over the summer, I didn't play AAU because I broke my wrist. That set me back, but I recovered from it. I'm working hard to get back in shape and get ready for the season coming up. I was in Germany last year too. I only played AAU between freshman and sophomore year."
Playing overseas gave Schilling a chance to experience a different style of basketball. He says fundamentals are really emphasized in many of the drills.
"When I was in Germany, I learned a lot. I worked on my shot a lot over there. I became a better overall player, but mostly my shot got better."They work a lot on the fundamentals, especially with the post players. There's stuff for the guards too. We did a lot of game-situation drills that would help us. I did a bunch of shooting over there, so that helped me out with my form. Now I just need to work on handling."
His return to the hardwood once he got back to the United States was short-lived. His injury was proof the American game is much more physical.
"One of the first games I played was at the DePaul camp, where I broke my wrist. That was the first thing. The American game is physical and fast-paced. It's a lot of athleticism over here, where over there it's a lot more on fundamentals. But I got back last week, and now I'm working hard."
Schilling is a big body in the post. Physically, he bears a resemblance to an NBA All-Star that he strives to emulate.
"I'm about 6'-8" and a half without shoes, and I weigh about 230 pounds. I really like the way Blake Griffin plays. People say I look and play like him. When I'm down low, I try to dunk when I can. And I can shoot those mid-range shots too. That's one of my role models in the NBA right now."
Schilling's return to De La Salle couldn't have come at a better time for the school. With the departure of top point guard Jaylon Tate to Simeon, Schilling and his teammates are ready to fill the gap and make a deep run this year.
"It's definitely an opportunity for the whole team to step up. Now that Jaylon left, we can't think about it too much. We look forward to playing Simeon and bringing our "A" game. We have a good lineup and a good looking team. I have a good feeling about this year."
Schilling hasn't been back in the U.S. very long, but he's already getting plenty of attention.
"Lately Marquette, Notre Dame, California, Providence, Missouri, Colorado State, Iowa, Butler, and DePaul (have been in touch). DePaul actually offered me today after my open gym."
But DePaul wasn't the first to offer Schilling. Illinois pulled the trigger on Monday after Coach Bruce Weber liked what he saw.
"Illinois and DePaul are my two offers now. I got the Illinois offer on Monday night. Coach Weber was at the open gym at the school, and then that night he called and let me know he wanted to offer me a scholarship.
"DePaul talked to my mom, and my mom told me about it. It's definitely an accomplishment to get those two offers. I look forward to many more I hope. It's a great feeling, but all I can do is work harder and improve my game."
The Illinois offer meant a lot to Schilling. He got a good feel for the campus when he visited for the Western Michigan football game. With an offer in hand, he hopes to make a return visit in a couple weeks.
"It was my first offer, so I was excited and a little shocked. I visited once back in September. I went down and saw the campus and the football game. I might be going back on October 15th for the Ohio State game. We'll see about that."
Schilling's relationship with the Illinois coaches is something he values quite a bit. Like many other prospects, Schilling got that "Illinois family feel" when he visited.
"It's been Coach Weber and Coach (Jay) Price. It's been great getting to know them. Coach Price is a real funny guy. We get along real well. They care for their players, and it's like a big family over there. They're all fun to talk to and spend time with."
One of the current Illini Schilling spent time with on his visit was an alum and fellow post out of De La Salle, Mike Shaw.
"I got to meet Mike Shaw. I've known him from the past too. I met him two years ago when I was here, and it was good seeing him again. I saw Meyers Leonard and Tracy Abrams. I worked out with Tracy before."
Schilling hopes to make it to some of the other schools recruiting him, but he's taking things day by day.
"Right now, I don't really have any other visits planned. I want to get to Notre Dame and Marquette. I'm not sure when that will happen; I have to talk to my mom about those."