Rakocevic Recaps Champaign

Illinois basketball recruiting is in full swing, and they hosted one of their top 2016 prospects from in-state on Friday. Get the rundown here.

While Illinois is focusing on several highly ranked 2015 prospects, they are also looking beyond this class alone. Friday they hosted the state's top rising junior in St. Joseph's 6'9" power forward Nick Rakocevic. We caught up with the skilled post to get his thoughts on how the visit went.

Rakocevic is a supremely skilled big man that is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign where he consistently put up double doubles and even a couple 20 point/20 rebound performances. He is developing his post moves and has a great feel for scoring in the paint by using athleticism, a soft touch, and banking it off the glass.

Rakocevic can also stretch the defense to well beyond the high school three point arc with his jump shot. The St. Joseph's big man runs the floor tremendously well consistently being the first man down the floor. Despite needing to add significant strength before college, Rakocevic is a plus rebounder and an underrated shot blocker.

He is currently the only in-state 2016 prospect with an offer from the Illini. Friday afternoon he took another trip to Champaign and broke down what he did on the visit.

"I Got to get to know all the coaches more today," he said. "They showed me many things like the facilities and academic center. Took a tour of campus."

Rakocevic says it was nice to be able to spend an extended period of time with the coaching staff and to get to know them better.

"Illinois is making strides to be a tough contender in the NCAA," he said. "Coach Groce is very passionate and he absolutely hates to lose. I think they will have an impressive season."

Another key aspect of this visit was for him to see the campus and facilities including the new floor that was just put in at the Ubben practice complex. Rakocevic liked what he saw.

"They were great," he said. "Cream of the crop. It was really impressive."

Illinois is definitely a school that has made a positive impression on the St. Joseph's star early in the process. He spoke about where his relationship stands with Illinois.

"It is definitely great. I love Illinois," he said. "I love the coaches. It is my hometown. I like them a lot. Their campus is beautiful. I have friends that went to Illinois. Right now I love all the schools recruiting me."

What is the Illini's recruiting pitch to him?

"They are telling me how my game could improve, Rakocevic said. "How they had great players. How they can prepare me for the next level and maybe the NBA. How it is just a process and they are going to develop me as a player."

Two other Midwest programs, Iowa and Xavier, will be receiving visits from him during June. There are several other programs starting to show interest in the talented prospect.

"Recruiting is the same right now with all the offers that I had, he said. "I'm Getting a little notice from North Carolina, Texas, Duke, and Florida."

More schools will be focusing on 2016 prospects during July including the programs Rakocevic mentioned. They are looking forward to becoming more familiar with his game.

"They are just saying we are going to be watching you because all of these coaches are going to be at Peach Jam," he said. They will all be out there so I just have to prove to them that they are recruiting the right guy."

He has picked up quite a few offers already and is on the verge of even more. Do not expect a decision from him in the near future.

"I think I am going to wait," he said. "At this point I am still young and not many teams know about me, a few maybe. I definitely want to get my name global by the end of this summer and going into next summer. I have to keep working and when the time comes I will decide. I can't really tell if it will be next year or my senior year."

This spring he played with the Mac Irvin Fire 16U helping them qualify for the Peach Jam. He discussed how it went with his team and where he saw growth in his game.

"It went great," Rakocevic said. "We played against some great competition. I had a lot of fun with my new teammates. I am looking forward to playing with them in the summer. I think I have improved in my ball handling. I am trying to grow into a three or stretch four type. I definitely need to get stronger though. Keep working on all aspects of my game. Mid-range shot, outside shot. Keep getting better."

Next up for Rakocevic is a week in St. Louis at the Nike Elite 100 Camp where he will be able to prove his skills against the top 2016 and 2017 prospects in the nation. He is ready for the challenge.

"I am definitely looking forward to playing against the best competition," he said. "I am looking forward to proving that I am one of the best out there. I have to stay hungry and humble right now."

We will be at Elite 100 all week keeping tabs on how Rakocevic and all the other Illini targets fare in St. Louis.


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