Southern AAU Coach Loves Illinois

Curtis Wheeler is the AAU coach for Jerel Stephenson and Toby Veal, two athletes who are being pursued by Head Coach Bruce Weber and other Division I schools. Both players list the Illini and like everything about them. Coach Wheeler talks about Stephenson and his feelings on Illinois and the Big Ten.

Jerel Stephenson is a 6-4 PG/SG from the class of 2008. He currently resides in Augusta, Georgia and attends Glenn Hills HS. Many may not know a lot about Stephenson, but according to his AAU coach, Curtis Wheeler, that will all change soon.

"Jerel is a great slasher; has good passing abilities. He's one of the best in the class. He's got a nice mid-range jump-shot. We're trying to work on his three-point shooting but that will come; he can shoot it, I would just like for him to be a little more consistent with it," said Wheeler.

Last season at Glenn Hills, Stephenson averaged 16.0 ppg and maybe 6 rebounds. "He's a high major Division I prospect; just look at his list of schools," Wheeler added. In no particular order: Illinois, Indiana, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Clemson and UNC Wilmington.

"Right now Illinois is definitely in his top 5 list of schools. He's planning to visit during Midnight Madness if things work out," said Wheeler.

Being from the south it's been somewhat difficult to get players to play in Champaign (currently Charles Jackson is from Georgia). "We like Illinois because of the coaches and their style of play. I love the fact that they run a three guard offense motion with no set plays. I have to be honest - I'm not a Big Ten fan. I'm an ACC guy, but I have no problems with any of my players playing for Illinois. They get out and run; they don't play that bruising brand of basketball. Who wants to do that all game long? To me Illinois and Michigan State play just like the ACC schools. That's why they do so well with recruits and in the NCAA tournament. I'm surprised they don't get more players from the southern schools," Wheeler added.

If Stephenson makes it to Midnight Madness, will catch up with him for a short interview.

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