For a homegrown talent who has been on the recruiting radar since he began high school, there is plenty of sameness for Champaign Central 2018 wing Tim Finke in regards to the Illinois basketball program.
The Finkes are Illini people. Tim's father, Jeff, played at Illinois. His brother, Michael, currently plays at Illinois. It's what you would call 'normal' to him, and he's heard the same 'stay home' rhetoric from different Illini coaches, people around the community, etc.
On Wednesday, Finke went to campus for an unofficial visit to hang out with head coach Brad Underwood and the new staff.
"It went really well. It was a lot of fun," Finke said. "Enjoyed getting to know the staff more and seeing everything inside State Farm Center that I hadn't seen before."
There probably weren't too many new features to show Finke at the arena. But Illinois basketball absolutely has some fresh appeal.
The fan base certainly feels that with the excitement surrounding a new era, the perception of a first-class coaching staff and an infusion of promising young players. It has people excited. There is considerable buzz and it's only June.
For what you'd consider a veteran Illini recruiting target, Finke is experiencing a new feel as well. That's not only in the sense of building relationships with new faces. The Illini staff is doing well in that aspect, by the way.
"I like them a lot. From what I've gotten to know out of them, they are all really cool people in general," Finke said. "In terms of basketball, they laid some things out for me and showed me how I would fit in with them due to my versatility. And they said I would fit in perfect with how they like to play."
Underwood has resonated very well with Finke, along with a number of others in his early recruiting efforts. You name it: Some of the first things prospective players have talked about with Underwood is his ability to develop talent and his ultra-detailed plans to accomplish those efforts.
After getting a close look on Wednesday, Finke co-signed on those sentiments.
"I love how detailed he is with everything," Finke said. "He definitely has a basketball mind, and the way he lays things out is impressive."
It's not a greatly-kept secret that the Finke family was displeased with John Groce's usage of Michael in the offense. There were internal questions about Groce's capability of maxing out his potential, as well as whether Tim would ultimately see Illinois as a fit.
Vanderbilt and Notre Dame have been undeniably strong with Finke in the recruiting process. Oregon is another program that is mentioned often. In the not-so-distant past, Illinois was the token mention. But they were probably not in the position most in the hometown would like to envision.
Now, there is some movement on that front. Finke has other attractive and viable options. And the Illini are also very high on Simeon 2018 wing Talen Horton-Tucker.
But what has been so familiar to the eye and mind -- not always in a positive way -- is different now. A new-look Illini program has left Finke with a different outlook.
"I definitely find myself looking at Illinois differently because whenever a new staff comes in to any program, the style and play are usually different than before. And it's intriguing to me," he said. "So yeah, I'm definitely looking at them differently than before."
The next look Illinois will get at Finke will be during Peach Jam beginning on July 12, as MeanStreets will take the floor during the first of three evaluation periods that month. Decision time won't be too far off from there.