The Illini made the cut on Sunday to be in the final five with five-star Indianapolis small forward Kris Wilkes, who ranks No. 17 overall in the Scout.com 2017 rankings.
Jordan Goodwin is off the board, but Wilkes is proof that Illinois isn't done swinging big on the wing in this class. The Illini are joined by Indiana, UCLA, UCONN and Xavier.
Kris' father, Greg, talked to IlliniInquirer.com on Sunday about the list.
"We've put a lot of time in thinking about this part of the process. We didn't rush it," Greg Wilkes said. "We feel like these are the five places that best fit Kris, and we are excited about what is to come."
What made Illinois one of those top five programs?
"He feels like Illinois is one of those schools that is a fit for him," Greg Wilkes said. "He likes the coaching staff and the playing style. Coach Groce and his staff have put the time in and watched him a lot. We visited there last summer and liked it a lot. Nice campus and we got to learn about the academic side too, which is good."
Kris Wilkes told Peegs.com that assistant coach Jamall Walker played a big factor as well.
“I’ve talked to them for a long time and had a chance to really get to know the coaches. I talk to Coach Walker a lot," he said. "That’s a reason I kept them around, talking to him, getting to know him as a person. That was big to me.”
Greg Wilkes added that he talked to John Groce on Sunday right after the list was released.
"He just said he was very excited to be in the top five and he appreciates the opportunity. He said he hopes to be the top one when this is done," Greg Wilkes said. "We talked about getting there for an official visit soon."
"We'll definitely do that."
The Illini are also recruiting Indianapolis combo guard Paul Scruggs, who plays with Kris Wilkes on the Under Armour circuit. They have four schools in common on their lists: Indiana, Illinois, UCONN and Xavier.
"Him and Kris have been playing together since the 4th grade. They've grown together," Greg Wilkes said. "Their games are compatible and they like some of the same schools. But Kris is going to go where it's best for Kris."
He added that the fit will be a combination of playing style, opportunity and relationship with the coaches.
"We want him to go to a place where he can be an impact player right away. We feel like all these schools enable him to do that. He wants to win at a high level, and he wants to be a big part of that," Greg Wilkes said. "He also wants to go to a place where they play fast. Kris can play in the halfcourt, but his game is best utilized when there's an up-and-down pace. So finding that, and a coaching staff that he bonds with and trusts, will be the key."
UCLA is the only program with an official visit date locked in right now, and that will be on Sept. 22-24. But the Wilkes family is already thinking about others, and Illinois looks to be in line to get one.
The Illini will sell the opportunity to fill the shoes of Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Malcolm Hill, while playing in an uptempo system with a chance to win big with other surrounding pieces. That will, of course, include five-star big man commit Jeremiah Tilmon.
"He's big-time," Greg Wilkes said. "That's intriguing for sure. He's a big-time player."
Stay tuned to IlliniInquier.com for more hoops recruiting coverage.