The chase for another wing in the 2017 class continues for John Groce and the Illini program, as they will bring in four-star small forward Abu Kigab for his official visit this weekend.
Kigab is a versatile wing at 6-foot-6 with long arms and athleticism. Illinois offered the Canadian product a scholarship back in June 2015, and they love his toughness, willingness to compete and ability to defend.
"I'm a competitive player and I think that rubs off on my teammates," Kigab told IlliniInquirer.com last month. "I love to compete and elevate my team. I don't take any possessions off."
Oregon hosted Kigab for his first official visit last weekend, and he left Eugene without a commitment. That leaves the Illini ready to take their shot.
Going Illinois' way
Illinois has made Kigab feel like a big priority, and he has developed a strong relationship with Dustin Ford. The Illini assistant was out at Prolific Prep (Cal.) on Wednesday to visit Kigab during a team workout.
"I had a great time hanging out with Coach Ford. That's my dude right there," Kigab told IlliniInquirer.com on Wednesday night. "I'm extremely excited for this weekend."
The draw to the program is nothing new for Kigab.
"I like everything about Illinois," he told IlliniInquirer.com in August. "Great staff, great basketball style, very unique. Not many teams play like them. They're really different from the rest of the pack, and you can tell when you watch them on TV. The relationship with me and the coaches is great. I talk to Coach Dustin every single day."
Beyond the established relationship, Illinois offers Kigab an opportunity to join a talented class that currently ranks third in the country. The Illini can also present a chance to earn minutes right away with Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Malcolm Hill graduating after this season.
"I just want to go in there and make an impact right away. So I'm gonna go to a school where they need a player like me," Kigab said. "So I just want to go in my first year and make an impact, and hopefully help my team win a championship."
Going against Illinois
Oregon presents a tough challenge for the Illini in this recruitment. The Ducks have a proven track record of landing talent from north of the border, and they have also made Kigab a priority target.
"I had a good visit last weekend at Oregon," Kigab said. "Really nice place."
Kigab likes their style of play in particular.
"They're definitely a great school. They also play a unique style: four-out, one-in. They've got guys at the five that can step out and shoot threes," Kigab said. "Their playing style is something definitely I want to be a part of. It's just a great place to be."
Oregon will likely have fellow Canadian product and standout wing Dillon Brooks heading to the NBA after this season. So there will be opportunity to be had.
As for other competition, Cal has an official visit locked in early next month. USC continues to be a player as well, and they could get an official visit.
From an internal perspective, Illinois' biggest obstacle will likely be their stockpile of wings. They already have Da'Monte Williams and Javon Pickett coming in with this class. The Illini will have Jalen Coleman-Lands, Kipper Nichols, D.J. Williams and Aaron Jordan on the roster too.
Confidence in a commitment
(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest) 3 -- The Illini have to feel good about Kigab's excitement to get on campus, and the way their relationship has progressed throughout this recruitment. A home football weekend will make for a good environment during the visit. But Kigab has said that he'd like to take his scheduled official visits -- which includes a trip to Cal -- before making his decision. Illinois would love to have five-star Indianapolis wing Kris Wilkes, who took his official visit to Champaign last weekend. But they push hard to make a strong impression on Kigab, and don't expect them to pull any punches.
Groce and his staff have made it clear that they want to add more athleticism and versatility on the wing. They're looking for someone who can attack the basket, rebound and defend. Kigab fits that bill. He may not be the dream addition that Wilkes would be -- as one of the elite players in this class. But Kigab would undoubtedly make Illinois' 2017 group stronger, and further guarantee that they would have one of the top 15 classes in the country when it's all said and done.