Nolan Berry is a 6'-7" power forward from DeSmet High School in St. Louis, Missouri. The class of 2013 power forward recently completed a successful season in which he led his team to the state quarterfinals. He and Illinois have shown a mutual interest in the recruiting process.
Berry recently got a visit from Illini coach Bruce Weber. He attended a recent DeSmet game against Parkway North. The sophomore was excited to have the coach in attendance for one of his games. They did not talk much, but what he did say was positive.
"As a sophomore, he can't really talk to me much. He said good game and keep working hard."
DeSmet's forward understands his game and knows it is important to match his game with a school that will be able to use his abilities in the best possible way. Although he grew up a Mizzou fan, he says he understands their present running system doesn't fit him well. On the other hand, he likes how Illinois uses its big men.
"I love Illinois. They let their big guys play, which I like. A lot of their big guys will step out and shoot a three."
When asked if the motion offense was a style he could thrive in, the young big man agreed it is a concept he enjoys.
"I like their offense a lot."
Is Illinois a program Berry could see himself at in 3 years?
"Yeah definitely! That is a school I really like."
DeSmet head coach Kevin Poelker says two Illinois coaches have been inquiring about his forward.
"Bruce Weber was at a game. Coach (Jay) Price has been by a couple of times. It seems like there is some genuine interest there."
Poelker mentioned some of the other schools showing interest in the sophomore.
"St. Louis, Purdue, Butler, and Missouri State."
Berry also added Indiana and Michigan to the list of schools in the mix. None have offered yet, but he did discuss his current situation with the Boilermakers.
"Purdue has told me I am going to come down. They have basically already offered."
Coach Matt Painter has traditionally liked to offer prospects while they are on campus in West Lafayette. The reason for the attention is warranted as Berry has been productive and has a highly skilled game. His high school coach discussed the sophomore's season.
"He obviously had a fantastic year. He was really important to us and hit some really big shots for us. He had a lot of confidence and allowed other guys to do their own thing."
Poelker likes the versatility in the forward's game.
"To have the skill set he does to pass, shoot, and get to the rim with that kind of size is pretty impressive."
Berry agrees his ability to score on both the perimeter and in the paint make him effective. He is working on his perimeter game so he can be able to play on the wing in college.
"I can post and go outside. At the next level, I am hoping to be one of those bigger three guards."
He believes his length is a key attribute in his success.
"I would say my length helps me with my position because I can drive someone down to the post or step outside and get my shot over somebody."
Berry has great length and wide shoulders. He knows one thing he needs to do is continue to add strength, especially to play at the big-time collegiate level.
"This year I learned I have to get a lot stronger because teams that can't defend me will start pushing me and getting up on me. I have to start hitting the weight room."
This past June, Berry had the opportunity to compete against the best players in the class of 2012 and 2013 nationally at the Nike Hoop Jamboree. Many players from this event have gone on to be NBA All-Stars. It is the place for the elite underclassmen to prove their game.
"That experience was really good. The best players in the country are always there. You get really good competition, and everyone is trying to make plays there. I think it made my game a lot better."
The forward will join fellow sophomore and Illinois prospect Jordan Swopshire on the St. Louis Eagles this spring and summer. Berry is excited to kick off the season.
"I am looking forward to it a lot. I think we are going to have a really good team. I think we can win a lot of tournaments."
There is much to like in Berry's game and potential at the next level. His high skill set allows him to play either forward spot while being productive. He handles the ball well for a 6'-7" kid and has a soft touch from the perimeter.
If he continues to improve his game and add strength, he would be a nice fit for Illinois at the power forward position in 2013. It seems Weber and Berry agree as they are both interested in Illinois' pursuit of the sophomore.