The 2018 class in the state of Illinois is very guard-heavy at the top with players like Ayo Dosunmu, Talen Horton-Tucker and Tim Finke leading the way, but emerging big man George Conditt is quickly making a case to be in that conversation.
Illini head coach Brad Underwood and his staff hosted Conditt for a visit on Saturday, and they extended an offer to the rising 6-foot-10 center.
"The visit went well. I'm really thankful for the offer," Conditt said. "I wasn't expecting it but I'm really thankful for it. It just shows me that I'm improving. All my hard work is starting to pay off."
During the visit, Conditt toured the basketball facilities, went around campus, talked to an academic counselor and stopped at Memorial Stadium to watch some of the football camp. He got to spend a lot of time with the coaches, and he has a good feeling about Illinois basketball going forward.
"They're heading in the right direction. I got a chance to speak with all the coaches. I love it," Conditt said. "There's a lot of positive vibes and they want to do what's best for you."
For Conditt, getting the best out of him down the road will require him to add strength and fill out his frame. That was a point of emphasis used by the Illini coaches in talking about his development.
"The biggest word of the day was 'food'. They want me to eat more," Conditt said. "Make sure I get some more food in me so my body can build."
Conditt's frame is long and wiry, but he is mobile and coordinated -- unlike other bigs of his stature. His ridiculous wingspan makes him a legitimate threat as a shot-blocker. And he has the ability to play around the perimeter on offense with his ball skills and athleticism.
The Illini really like his upside. They like that they got in early, as they are his first high-major offer. And Underwood -- who wants to play uptempo and have big men with mobility and versatility -- feels that Conditt is a great fit.
He let that be known on Saturday.
"That's the most important thing," Conditt said. "He needs me."
"He has to do his job. I know he has to recruit more players. If I was to sign, he'll stop. As of right now, he's not going to. He's going to keep looking for players my size. I know this much, though. They said I'm the only person he's offered with my size and my skills."
Other programs are waking up to Conditt's talent as well. He has stockpiled some low-major and mid-major offers. He will take a visit to Ball State on Monday. But Conditt said Iowa State, Purdue, SMU, UCLA, Wisconsin and others are involved too.
"My game has grown really well over the last five or six months," he said. "I've been working hard but hard work pays off."
The Illini plan on continuing their pursuit and having their hard work pay off in the end. Assistant coach Chin Coleman has added Conditt to his mission up in Chicago in the 2018 class, which also includes landing Dosunmu and Horton-Tucker.
Conditt is a good bet to join the other two Chicago products in the top five for the state in next year's class. Knowing what the Illini have coming in with 2017 Mr. Basketball winner Mark Smith, along with others on the way, Conditt believes landing the Windy City trio in 2018 could be the game-changer for the future.
"If all three of us decide to go to Illinois, it would basically be like '05 again," Conditt said. "To be honest with you, I think we could be the best school in the country."
Ryan Easterling contributed to this story.