Roberto Serra (adidas)

Mayan Kiir on Illini message: 'We can change Illinois basketball'

Four-star power forward Mayan Kiir gives his thoughts on his Illini official visit and what's next for him.

With just more than three weeks until Signing Day, John Groce and his staff are making a push to take their 2017 class to another level -- and four-star power forward Mayan Kiir is a crucial part of those plans.

The Illini currently rank sixth in the country with their group of 2017 commits, and they hosted Kiir for an official visit two weekends ago.

"I had a real good visit. I feel that I clicked with the guys. Everything was good," Kiir said. "Illinois is good academically. The tradition is good. And the fan base is very supportive. I love that."

Kiir has been a major priority on the Illinois radar since the spring, and the Orange and Blue did not miss a game of his during the July evaluation periods.

Groce and assistant coach Dustin Ford have been down to Florida multiple times to visit him. Kiir enjoyed his chance to get to know them further during his time in Champaign.

"Coach Groce and the staff are all great guys. They took care of me. I love 'em. Everything to them is about family and I really love that," Kiir said. "Coach Groce is a pretty good coach. Just a great dude. He showed me his family and took me to his house. Everything was great."

Kiir took the visit with his mom, and he said she was very focused on the academic side. Illinois fared well in that aspect. As for on the court, the message was very clear.

"They say that I'm a great piece. They said that me and Jeremiah (Tilmon) would kill it together," Kiir said. "They were pretty much saying that we could change Illinois basketball. That 2017 class would be a great class. They say that they need me and they want me to come play with them."

Kiir got an opportunity to get familiar with Tilmon, as the five-star center came into town to hang out for a night.

"It was good. We got along and had a really good time," Kiir said. "He's a cool dude. I liked him a lot. It was pretty fun to hang out and be on campus together."

Kiir also got personally acclimated with the Illini fan base, who he's had plenty of interaction with on Twitter.

"The fans are great. They showed a lot of love. People walk by and they notice you," he said. "They really showed that they care about their basketball team. They're crazy. I love them."

Another aspect of the visit was watching the current team practice, and the Illini showed Kiir what he wanted to see.

"Illinois has some dogs. I love that about them. They went hard in practice," he said. "It was a great practice. I was excited watching them."

Kiir told that Ford will have a follow-up visit with him down in Florida on Tuesday. VCU will host Kiir for an official visit this upcoming weekend, and that is the last visit that's currently set in stone for him.

However, Kiir hinted that he may take at least one more after that. But he did not comment on the potential destination.

As the situation stands at this moment, Illinois put themselves in a good position with their visit. The big question mark is immediate playing time, which has been a big priority for Kiir throughout this process.

VCU could potentially stack up better in that regard with Tilmon, Leron Black and Michael Finke already set to be in Illinois' 2017-18 frontcourt. But the Illini have some attractive aspects to their sell, and being an important piece in a game-changing class is certainly one of them.

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