Top Freshman Visits Illinois

High school basketball season is underway, which means the road to Peoria has started for hoopers all over the state of Illinois. It also means the start of the high school career of one of Illinois’ top freshmen.

Simeon freshman point guard Kezo Brown begins his journey on a seasoned Simeon squad that has set the bar high when it comes to success and talent.

The Simeon program has produced current Illinois guards Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn as well as future Illini D.J. Williams, and Brown, who could be one of the next great players to emerge from the south side Chicago program, was at Illinois to watch some of the Wolverines alums in action.

"I got in a little late because of the weather,” Brown said, “but I already saw that Kendrick Nunn hit a nice jump shot. I’m looking forward to seeing Jay Tate and K Nunn."

Seeing players who have come out of Simeon on the floor inspires Brown to keep working hard, but he isn’t surprised to see Tate and Nunn’s success with the preparation they received in high school from coach Robert Smith.

"It’s good because Coach Rob (Smith) prepares us for stuff like this,” he said, "so it helps a lot."

Brown, in the presence of his fellow Wolverines, felt pretty comfortable at Illinois. He met up with teammate D.J. Williams at the game as well.

“Yeah,” Brown said about feeling comfortable at Illinois. "Really, it’s home. D.J. I think will do pretty well here. He came down here to check it out today too."

Brown, who is still very new to the recruiting process, made his first visit to the in-state program. He’s made a couple local trips, but looked forward to the Illinois trip.

"This is my first visit actually,” he said. "I went to a DePaul game a while back, but Illinois is real good to me."

The Illinois staff have become frequent visitors at Simeon and have a close relationship with the Simeon coaches and a strong presence among the program.

"The head coach and assistant coach come to our scrimmages and keep telling me to do what I’m doing and to keep working hard,” Brown said. "It’s a real good relationship."

Coach Smith at Simeon knows the Illinois staff very well and the frequent communication helps keep that bond strong.

"Coach Rob can tell the Illinois staff about my strengths and weaknesses,” he said. "It’s good to have that relationship with the staff."

Brown will soon face players on a different level than those he saw last year. But he hopes that if he continues to focus on doing the fundamental things to get better, that the game will come to him.

"In 8th grade I was bigger and stronger than everybody,” Brown admitted, "but in high school I’m working on my skills and my overall game. The coacches are pushing me to play my game and do what I do best."

Brown joins rare company as a freshman on the varsity squad at Simeon. He knows the adjustment will be a challenge, but feels as though his teammates are supporting him and Coach Rob is treating him no differently than his veterans.

"I want to keep my head on straight and stay focused,” he said. "The transition is going well. The coaches love me and the guys on the team are treating me like a brother. Coach Rob demands a lot out of everybody, whether it’s the starters or the last guy on the bench."

Before even playing a single high school game, Brown has already netted three offers, including one from the Big Ten. He believes that he could be on the verge of several huge offers in the near future.

"Bradley, DePaul, and Nebraska have offered,” he said. "I think Kansas might offer soon."

As for whether an Illinois offer could be coming before too long?

"I think so... I hope so."

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