Tatum Takes in Illinois

The top player in the midwest in 2016 is St. Louis (MO) Chaminade wing Jayson Tatum. Illinois is pursuing the top 5 player in the class hard already, and hosted him for an unofficial on Saturday.

Recruiting has been nothing short of wild for the University of Illinois basketball program lately. The pursuit of Cliff Alexander is nearing a conclusion, but Illinois hosted another top prospect, this time in the class of 2016, on Saturday in St. Louis (MO) Chaminade small forward Jayson Tatum.

"It was great, I had a nice time," Tatum said of the visit.

The visit was Tatum's first on the Illinois campus, and it was standard protocol for the most part.

"I got a tour of the campus and the facilities, met the players and coaches, and got to watch practice and see film with those guys," he said.

With it being his first time on campus, Tatum came into the visit with an open mind and wanted to see what the program was all about on a high level.

"I just wanted to get a feel for things and see what they had to offer," Tatum said.

Coach Groce has installed a very player-friendly offense at Illinois, and Tatum feels like it suits what he does well. Then again, Tatum's broad skill set could probably fit any system, but he feels like he could thrive in a ball screen offense.

"I like it a lot," he said. "They space the floor and use a lot of ball screens, so I feel like I can play in that system."

Aside from the offense, Tatum likes the future of the State Farm Center and is building a strong relationship with the coaching staff.

"I really like the plan for the new gym they are getting in 2015 and I like Coach Groce," He said.

One other member of the Illinois staff that Tatum has a long-standing relationship with is Jamall Walker, who played at St. Louis University with Tatum's father.

"It's been great over the years (knowing Walker)," he said, "I've built a relationship and have gotten to know them pretty well."

The Illinois staff has made it well-known to Tatum that he's crucial in 2016. But that's what you have to do with top 5 recruits nationally.

"I was the first one they've offered and Coach Groce was the first head coach to come to one of my games."

Tatum has offers from top schools all over the country. But since he's just a sophomore, college coaches can't call him directly. His parents have been helping him through the process so far.

"It's hard to say because coaches can't call me yet because I'm a sophomore. But both of my parents have been handling the recruiting stuff so far."

Having so many offers can sometimes go to a recruit's head, but Tatum has stayed humble about the process and is thankful for every offer he has.

"Yeah it's just a blessing right now and I'm very thankful for all of them," he said.

Saturday might have been Tatum's first trip to Champaign, but I would be willing to bet it won't be his last. Keep it locked in right here on IlliniPlaybook for all the latest when it comes to hoops recruiting news.

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