With a solid recruiting class taking shape for 2017 and what (on paper) looks to be a litany of backcourt help coming along with it, head coach John Groce and the Illinois Fighting Illini still have one big piece to fill, and it's at center.
Jeremiah Tillmon is the prize in this class, but his recruitment looks to be turning into a battle with the blue bloods for his services, as he holds offers from North Carolina and Kansas, among many others. If the Illini aren't able to land Tillmon, they will need to look elsewhere for their big man of the future.
Enter Victor Uyaelunmo.
Uyaelunmo is a 7-foot, 210-pound center from Miami, FL. Listed as four-star recruit and the No. 86 prospect in the class of 2017, Uyaelunmo holds offers from Memphis, Pitt, Georgetown, Florida and Illinois, among others. He plays his high school ball for Gulliver Prep and the Florida Vipers on the AAU circuit.
The most intriguing attribute that Uyaelunmo has to offer has to be just how well he moves for a man his size. Residing in the upper echelon of athleticism, Uyaelunmo has the potential to be an all-defense type of player at the next level. He excels at defending the rim, using his 7'1 wingspan to disrupt and block shots and is particularly adept at meeting his man vertical to the rim. He rebounds well for his size and runs the floor well on the break.
Where Uyaelunmo needs the most work is on the offensive side of the ball. The best way to describe the 7-footer on that end is unpolished, but the tools are there for him to figure it out. He doesn't possess a true "go to" move in the post, mostly scoring on a flimsy right-handed jump hook. Most of his baskets come off of dunks and put backs, but he can back it out and shoot it from the elbow at times.
At the very least, Uyaelunmo projects as a defensive specialist at the collegiate level, but he possesses all the potential in the world. College coaching will certainly work out some of the offensive kinks in his game and clean him up fundamentally, but Uyaelunmo can go as high as he wants to. This type of athleticism and quickness in a 7-footer doesn't come along very often, even less often does the 7-footer live up to his potential, but if he can figure it all out, we could be looking at a potential lottery pick a few years down the line.
Four-star 2017 center Victor Uyaelunmo visited USC on Monday. Said USC, Illinois, Pitt, Tennessee on him most. Maryland showing interest.
Four-star 2017 center Victor Uyaelunmo visited USC on Monday. Said USC, Illinois, Pitt, Tennessee on him most. Maryland showing interest.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) June 2, 2016
Uyaelunmo will be visiting Tennessee on the 8th and expects to visit Pitt later this month. As his recruitment heats up, Illinois should certainly be in the mix, as they were one of his first offers and as he stated earlier this month, one of the schools recruiting him the hardest.