Peyton Allen visited Illinois again recently. The 2014 guard prospect from Chatham Glenwood is strongly attracted to his state school and hopes for a scholarship offer. It hasn't happened yet, but he is working hard to earn that dream offer.
"I have a trainer now. I train with him four nights a week. I've gotten stronger and in better physical shape than last year. Last year I didn't have much endurance. But this year, I think it's really improved.
"With my trainer we also work on weight lifting, speed and agility. So I definitely think I've gotten quicker and faster. "
The 6'-4", 190 pounder started as a freshman, but he feels more part of the team now.
"I definitely do. Last year I thought, 'I've never played varsity basketball.' This year I come in with more confidence. Coach wants me to shoot and score more, and he's just given me a lot of confidence. I think I can handle this year better."
Allen was hoping to attract college scouts during his summer AAU work with the Illinois Wolves 15 and Under team. But a couple of injuries held back his progress.
"I came back about a month after my pulled hamstring. I still had that concussion and wasn't in shape yet. I probably should have gotten in better shape before that, but I was just trying to get back to playing. I'm healthy now. I'm having fun every day at practice."
He might be considered a throwback player. Like guards of yesteryear, he cares more about winning than being flashy. He can both shoot the outside shot and penetrate.
"I do like to do both. In this day, it seems like dunks or blocks or sick passes are preferred. But I just want to get it done the right way and win every night."
Allen has only two college offers so far, but a number of colleges are communicating with him.
"Schools with the most interest are probably Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. I have an offer from Bradley and one from Oklahoma State."
Some Illini fans have wondered why Illini coaches have not yet offered a central Illinois athlete who loves his home state school. But Allen understands the dynamics of major college ball and is willing to be patient.
"I'm just enjoying every second of it. I can't be any more happy with the place I'm in right now. I think it's great I get to go to all these camps and basketball games. I get to see the players I see on TV on every campus. It's great."