During the next month, lliniInquirer.com lead basketball reporter Derek Piper will break down more than a dozen Illinois basketball targets, what he learned from watching them on the summer AAU circuit and where Illinois stands with them in their respective recruitments.
Today - Jordan Poole, combo guard Milwaukee (Wis.) Rufus King
Poole has certainly been on the minds of the Illini staff this summer, and he earned a scholarship from the program in late June. The 6-foot-3 sharpshooter has quickly worked his way to the upper echelon of the priority list, and he took an unofficial visit to Champaign on Sunday.
Poole got a chance to tour the campus, including the academic and athletic facilities. He also watched the Illini practice in preparation for their trip to Europe, and watched game film from last season. The coaches got to talk about to him about their plans for the future and interact with him face-to-face.
“It was great,” Poole said. “The experience was amazing and I just loved it.”
What We Saw In July
Poole dazzled during the July evaluation periods, as the Illini watched closely all month long. He showed why he should be in the conversation for a top-50 national ranking in the class. Poole was at his best at the NY2LA Summer Jam in Mequon, Wis. a few weeks ago. He showcased his loaded arsenal at the offensive end, which includes a pure outside stroke, effortless handles and superb court vision. Even playing up at the 17U level, Poole put opposing defenses to the test with everything he brings to the floor.
There’s a reason he has earned the nicknames of “Splash” and “Baby Steph”. Poole operates with a natural smoothness to his game, and his range extends far beyond the three-point line. Poole can splash NBA-range triples with ease and his overall skill set continues to grow. Even taking the role as a facilitator at times, Poole was extremely impressive.
“I showed coaches that I don’t have to score to be a dominant player,” Poole said. “I feel like playing how I played when I am younger showed some toughness. I showed that I can also run a team, control the tempo and play defense.”
How He’d Fit In Illini Class
The 2017 class has blockbuster potential if the Illini can capitalize on the landscape. Poole could be one of the game-changers if he decides to jump on board. He would provide instant offense at the next level as a dangerous outside threat. Poole has also shown the ability to handle the ball and make plays off the dribble. He would be a big part of Illinois’ infusion of talent in the backcourt, which would add to the attraction for elite big man Jeremiah Tilmon.
Where Do The Illini Stand
The Illini were one of the first high-major programs to get involved with Poole, and they’ve done a great job of selling him on what they have to offer. Sunday was another huge step in the right direction by getting him on campus. Assistant coach Paris Parham has developed a strong connection with Poole as well.
“I have a great relationship with Coach Parham,” Poole said. “Right now, Illinois is up there at the top. I’m really feeling them right now.”
Illinois has treated Poole like one of their top priorities in 2017, and they have big plans for him if he makes Champaign his four-year home. Poole said the campus had a home-feel when he was there, and that’s not the only reason he has a connection to Illinois. Poole’s father is from Chicago and graduated from Simeon. He also has quite a bit of family in Illinois.
"I have a lot of family down there. So when they realized that I got the offer from Illinois, everybody was like ‘come to Illinois, come to Illinois'," Poole said last month. “I’m definitely thinking about it.”
Sizing Up The Competition
The Illini did a great job of arriving early to the party, but the competition has increased over the last month. Poole holds offers from Auburn, Illinois, Marquette, Memphis, Nebraska, Virginia Tech and others. Indiana and UConn have also showed a high level of interest. A few weeks ago, Poole said he was talking the most with Illinois, Indiana, UConn and Virginia Tech. However, that was before Marquette offered and the hometown program will likely be a big player.
Poole will continue to take unofficial visits leading up to his junior season. He said he plans to visit Nebraska, Auburn and Indiana next. There’s a good chance the Hoosiers jump on board with offer once they get him on campus. That list is only going to grow during the next year, but the Illini are in a great spot right now.