Champaign Centennial forward Michael Finke was the first recruit to commit to Illinois head coach John Groce in the 2014 class, and immediately he took it upon himself to start recruiting other players to join him.
Meanwhile, he began a program to put on weight, knowing how much more physical the college game would be. Finke would be the first to tell you that his body was nowhere near ready just a few months ago, but the "Nic Smith 5000 Calorie-Per-Day Diet" seems to be doing some good for Finke, who is filling out his once-lanky frame.
Ever since he committed, he's been working hard. And while Signing day is an exciting time for Finke, he's getting right back to work after signing.
"Absolutely (I'm excited)!" Finke said. "It will be good to get it done so I can focus on our season though."
"I've been looking forward to this for a long time," Finke said. "It's a dream come true."
The roster is getting crowded at Illinois in a hurry, but Finke brings skills to the table that some of his other teammates don't necessarily have. Let's break it down a bit.
At 6'9" tall with solid handles, a long wingspan, and a consistent outside shot, Finke is a mismatch offensively for a lot of the opponents he'll face. He isn't the most athletic guy out on the floor, but he's not sluggish either and can get past a good number of defenders with a couple moves.
Watching Finke several times, one of the things that really stood out to me, though, was how well he saw the floor in the half court sets and how well he passed out of the high post.
Finke has always been known for his above-average outside shooting, but he showed an improved mid-range game this spring, and if he's able to both pass and shoot from the elbows and high post, he will cause trouble for opponents.
At Illinois, he'll bring a lot of the same things that Malcolm Hill has been asked to do this year. That doesn't mean that their roles will overlap, because ultimately I believe Finke's addition will allow Hill to slide over to the 3 more. But essentially, both are plus outside shooters and have the ability to handle and slash in certain situations.
Finke will have to come in and compete for minutes with Austin Colbert and will likely rotate in at times with Nnanna Egwu, but he will also provide continuity as Jon Ekey, the fifth-year senior graduates.
Here are some highlights of 2014 signee Michael Finke from this spring.