Illinois basketball kicks off the 2016 point guard visit slate on Friday with rising Milwaukee playmaker Te’Jon Lucas.
Coming off a July ascension, Lucas possesses an Illinois offer and will take an unofficial to get more familiar with the program and discuss what he could bring to the position. John Groce was one of many Big Ten coaches with their eyes on Lucas during the NY2LA Summer Jam in his home state.
He isn’t the top priority at the position but showed he can make an impact at the high-major level. A handful of Big Ten programs are in a similar situation with Lucas. He’d be a nice secondary move after missing on a big-name point guard.
Here’s more on what put Lucas on the radar and how things could unfold in his recruitment.
What We Saw In July
After earning his way into the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June, Lucas continued to show his skills with the ball in his hands. Lucas can slice through the defense off the bounce and push the pace in transition. His court vision made him one of the most impressive distributors on the circuit and he found ways to score as well. Lucas can drive the lane and finish. He has the ability to shoot from the outside as well.
While top point guards Charlie Moore, Cassius Winston and Xavier Simpson showed off in a loaded USA Midwest backcourt at the Nike Global Challenge in Chicago, Lucas was busy impressing at the Summer Jam in Wisconsin. He had a game in bracket play with 14 assists and just one turnover. Lucas’ natural feel at the position is one of the many reasons to like his upside.
How’d He Fit In Illini Class
Lucas isn’t the name Illinois fans have in mind for their 2016 class hopes, but he could strengthen an area of need. The Illini have to bring another true point guard into the mix next season one way or another. Lucas has the potential to be a successful player at the next level with talented pieces around him. Every program dreams for the Ferrari to run the show, but there are only so many in the lot each year. Lucas is the option you can afford, but the demand will rise the longer you wait.
Where Do The Illini Stand
Moore and Simpson are at the top of the wish list, and the Illini hope to host both for official visits over the next month. They are in closely-contested battles with the pair, but they have to be prepared for any situation. Groce doesn’t have the spots to take two point guards but can’t afford to leave the question unanswered either.
Lucas will take an official visit to Purdue later this month, and he has officials scheduled in September to USC and Old Dominion. The Illini will look to bring him back for an official down the road in case they have to cross off their top two options. The key factor will be how long Lucas wants to let things play out, as others will join the mix if he stays open.
Sizing Up The Competition
It has yet to be determined if Purdue will know their verdict on Simpson when Lucas arrives on campus. If they are out of the running, you can bet they will push for a commitment. Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State all have the potential to jump on board as well. The Hawkeyes are big players for Moore, and they are still officially in the hunt for Simpson. Meanwhile, Michigan and Michigan State will have an in-state battle for Winston.
Only one of them can come away victorious. Lucas told Scout.com last month that he grew up wanting to play for the Wolverines or Spartans. Don’t be surprised if one emerges as a late contender after an offer. Lucas currently holds offers from Illinois, Memphis, Old Dominion, Purdue, USC and others. Marquette, Miami (FL), Texas and Wake Forest have shown interest as well.
Lucas could land at a number of destinations, as there is a lot left to unfold.