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Recruiting: Illinois Gets Its Point Guard in Te'Jon Lucas

At long last, John Groce lands his point guard of the future

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since October 4, 2012, Illinois received a commitment from a pure point guard. 4-Star point guard Te'Jon Lucas (Milwaukee) chose the Illini over Southern Cal and Old Dominion, but in total had offers from 16 Division 1 programs. Lucas may not have been the biggest name (or the biggest player--he stands at just 5'11" and 160 pounds) that Illinois could have gotten, but he improved his stock tremendously over the last few months.

As a junior at Washington High School, Lucas averaged a team-high 14.3 points and 5.2 assists per game and was named second team all-conference in the City Conference. Over the summer, he really left an impression on several schools. At the NBA Top 100 camp in June, Lucas caught the eye of former NBA player John Lucas, who raved about Te'Jon's defense and leadership. And at the NY2LA Summer Jam Lucas established himself as one of the best guards in the Midwest with his tremendous court vision and his ability to drive and finish at the rim.

Though he was overlooked by high-major schools until very recently, Lucas says this is nothing new: "It started when I was young. I was always doubted. I always play with a chip on my shoulder. I was always (considered) lower class than everyone else. I went to the NBA Top 100 Camp, one of the last people there, and had to prove that I deserved to be there. It's been hectic. It's been a bumpy road, but i kind of enjoyed it." He classifies himself as a pass-first point guard with a high basketball IQ.

Presumably, Lucas will have the opportunity to be the starting point guard from Day 1. But if he still needs some time to adjust to the college game, it's not as if the cupboard is bare for the Illini. If Tracy Abrams decides to come back (and the NCAA grants him eligibility) for a sixth season following yet another injury, he would likely be the front-runner for the job. Even if Abrams calls it quits, Jaylon Tate or even Jalen Coleman-Lands could be serviceable in a lead-guard role. But if Lucas can live up to his billing (he's certainly a better shooter than Tate), the Illini could trot out a lineup of Lucas, Jalen Coleman-Lands, Kendrick Nunn, Malcolm Hill, and Leron Black. It's a perimeter-heavy five, sure, but that's par for the course at Illinois.

The addition of Lucas could help Illinois snag another big fish in the Class of 2016. Illinois has two scholarships remaining (though another could become available if Abrams chooses not to return to school) and are heavily recruiting 4-Star small forward Xavier Sneed (Florissant, MO). With Lucas in tow, the Illini have become a much more attractive option for Sneed, as the allure of playing with an elite distributor may end up leading Sneed to choose Illinois. But in the meantime, John Groce and company are ecstatic over the addition of Lucas. The Illini have very high expectations going forward, both for Lucas and for the program as a whole.