Illini head coach John Groce and his staff are looking to add more athleticism and physicality to their frontcout in the future, and 2017 four-star power forward Theo John fits right into that mold.
The 6-foot-9 big man has a strong build, a high motor and he finishes with authority. He currently averages 14 points, nine rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game as a junior at Champlin Park High School (MN) outside of Minneapolis.
The Illini took advantage of the trip up to Minnesota a few weeks ago, as assistant coach Paris Parham stopped in to watch John and three-star point guard McKinley Wright. The Champlin Park teammates both picked up offers from Illinois in June.
Parham visited John back in the fall as well, and they have formed a good bond during the recruiting process.
"He's a really good coach," John said of Parham. "He wants me to continue to improve my outside game - shooting and stuff like that."
Adding that versatility to his game will be huge for John to take the next step in his development. But the Illini are already sold on his Big Ten frame and how he can make plays around the basket.
John has a good impression of Illinois at this point as well.
"I think they are a great school with a really good basketball program, even when working though a lot of injuries," John said.
He added that he would like to take a visit to Champaign in the future, but he's not sure when that will happen. John has already visited Creighton, Marquette, Minnesota and Wisconsin. He is planning a return visit to Marquette this weekend.
As for his recruitment as a whole, John holds offers from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas State, Marquette, Minnesota, Nebraska and Texas Tech. He said he made sure to watch Illinois' overtime bout with Minnesota last month.
"It was nice to see them play because I haven't caught many of their games so far," John said.
The athletic big man will play on the EYBL circuit this spring and summer with Howard Pulley and five-star shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. John will certainly attract quite a bit of attention, but he is still taking things slow in the recruiting process.
"I haven't put much thought into my final decision," he said. "I like Illinois and they seem to be pretty interested in me."