Illinois basketball hit the recruiting trail to watch some important recruits this weekend.
It is important for the Illini to build around Morez Johnson Jr. in 2024. Johnson, a unanimous top-40 recruit nationally, is the centerpiece of what could be a special recruiting class for the Orange and Blue.
Brad Underwood and his coaching staff have secured two talented players to surround Johnson in 2024. Jason Jakstys will help in the paint alongside Johnson, and Jase Butler is coming in to help the Illinois backcourt.
The Illinois coaches aren’t done yet, though. On Sunday morning, Rob Cassidy of Rivals reported that Illini assistant coach Geoff Alexander was in the house to watch a few recruiting targets in the Shooting Stars Basketball Showcase.
Among the names Cassidy mentions were Maurice Vassel, Adam Njie, and Chidi Nwigwe.
Illinois basketball target: Maurice Vassel
Vassel is a 6-foot-9, 160-pound power forward from St. Benedict’s Prep in New York. He is rated as a three-star recruit and ranked as the No. 248 player in the class of 2024. He is also the No. 53 power forward in the country and the No. 9 player coming out of New York.
I love Vassel’s game, especially in an offense like Illinois runs. Underwood wants to move the ball and get out in breaks, and Vassel can be a weapon on the fastbreak. He runs the court well, and his athletic ability is off the charts. I also like his touch with 10 feet of the rim.
Illinois basketball target: Adam Njie
Njie is a 6-foot-3, 175-pound point guard from Cardinal Hayes High School in New York. He is rated as a three-star recruit and ranked as the No. 163 player in the class of 2024. He is also the No. 14 point guard in the country and the No. 7 player coming out of New York.
Whoever lands Njie is getting a really talented player. I am not sure why he is a sub-150 recruit. Njie has great handles and the ability to finish at the rim with either hand. I don’t even know who he models his game after, but his game screams Kyrie Irving. A mix of bulldog and finesse that is hard to replicate.
Illinois basketball target: Chidi Nwigwe
Nwigwe is a 6-foot-7, 195-pound shooting guard from St. Benedict’s Prep in New York. He is rated as a five-star recruit and ranked as the No. 18 player in the class of 2026. He is also the No. 5 shooting guard in the country and the No. 1 player coming out of New Jersey.
Usually, when you have an athletic freak like Nwigwe, there are shooting issues. That isn’t the case here, though. Nwigwe has the athletic ability that jumps off the page and can be tough to handle. He can then step out and shoot from three-point range. His length makes him a nightmare defensively as well. There is a reason this kid is a five-star already.