Heading into the first live recruiting period, lead basketball reporter Derek Piper is breaking down 10 of Illinois basketball's top recruits with their updated scouting report, what they have to prove this spring on the AAU circuit and where the Illini stand with them.
Today: Tim Finke, shooting guard Champaign Central (Ill.)
Champaign Central shooting guard Tim Finke is building a reputation as arguably the most promising hometown product to ever be on the Illini radar.
Finke bumped up to No. 22 in the updated 2018 Scout rankings on Monday. He is third among Midwest prospects in the class, as Indiana shooting guard Romeo Langford (No. 4) and Minnesota point guard Tre Jones (No. 19) are also in the top 25.
Finke was a 3A second-team selection by the Associated Press after averaging 20.6 points and 6.8 rebounds during his sophomore season. He helped lead the Maroons to a third-place finish in the Big 12.
The 6-foot-6 wing will make his debut on the EYBL circuit this weekend with the St. Louis Eagles.
Finke is a versatile guard with a vast amount of skill and athleticism. He can score in a variety of ways with a smooth stroke and athletic finishes at the rim off the bounce. Finke hit 65 threes during his sophomore season. He has also shown good handles, and an ability to drive from the perimeter and rise above defenders with his bounce. Finke has a superb basketball IQ as well, and his court vision allows him to make great decisions with the ball in his hands.
Finke's frame has developed nicely to this point. He has reached 6-foot-6, and he could grow taller than that. He has also added strength since the end of his freshman year, and that continues to be a big focus for him going forward. Finke's overall skill set is very intriguing, and he is deceptively explosive. Once his frame fills out, his upside has the chance to be sky-high.
What he has to prove this spring
After putting up big-time numbers with the Illinois Irish last AAU season, Finke now has the opportunity to play against the best competition you can find on the spring and summer scene. There is little doubt that he will be successful on the EYBL circuit, but it's up to him to reach the level of expectation that has been set. This will be the true measuring stick, as he'll compete against top players who are a class above him as well.
"I'm looking forward to playing versus some of the best basketball players in the country," Finke told IlliniInquirer.com last fall after announcing the AAU switch. "I want to become the best possible player I can become. And I think playing against the great players that are in the EYBL will get me to that point."
Finke has to show that he can continue to stand out, while finding his place in the same backcourt as Jordan Goodwin - who is considered the best overall player in the state. The live periods have yet to start, but Finke already has people talking after the plays he made in Arkansas last weekend - including a halfcourt buzzer-beater.
How he'd fit at Illinois
Finke isn't going to have a problem finding a fit at the next level. Illinois already has a number on wings set to be in the backcourt in 2018-19: Jalen Coleman-Lands, Da'Monte Williams, Javon Pickett, Aaron Jordan, Kipper Nichols and possibly Goodwin. That may be a tad bit concerning in terms of a playing time pitch. But talented players play - it's that simple. Finke would be a big addition to that group, and he'd be a key piece to the Illini future.
Where Illinois stands
The Illini have a number of factors that position them ahead of the curve in this race. Finke's older brother, Michael Finke, averaged 7.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game as a redshirt freshman at Illinois this past season. The brothers could potentially suit up together for a season in Champaign. Their father, Jeff Finke, played basketball and football at Illinois.
The family connections bode in Illinois' favor, as John Groce and his staff have established key relationships.
"I have known them pretty well ever since Michael started getting recruited by them," Tim Finke said of the Illinois staff last summer. "So whenever I see them around town, or if I go and shoot around with Michael, they are always present and nice to me. They're close with my parents as well."
Illinois has a hometown advantage as well. Tim Finke grew up going to Illinois games. He continues to go to as many as he can to watch his brother. The Illini have no problem getting him on campus, and they can easily see him play throughout the high school season.
The Illini were also his first high-major offer last July.
"It was special to get an offer from a Big Ten school - especially Illinois being a hometown school," Tim Finke said after the offer.
Orange and blue are in his family's blood. But he is going to take his time to evaluate his options, and he has been adamant that he isn't afraid to pave his own path.
Illinois will have to prove that they are the best option when it's all said and done.
"At the end of the day, I'm going to choose what's right for me," Tim Finke told IlliniInquirer.com. "I'll consider everything, and go where my best fit is."
Sizing up the competition
The other big offer for Tim Finke right now is from Ohio State, who extended one his way back in January.
"They're a really big-name program," Tim Finke said of the Buckeyes this past summer. "It will be really interesting these next few years to see what happens."
Tim Finke took an unofficial visit to Columbus back in September. The Buckeyes aren't the only Big Ten program in the mix, though. A number of Big Ten coaches stopped in to see Tim Finke when their team was in town to play Illinois.
Tim Finke told IlliniInquirer.com on Monday that Michigan, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Purdue and Virginia are some of the main schools that haven't offered but are showing interest. The number of suitors is only going to grow as time goes on.