Hope Academy star chooses Illinois
Updated: June 22, 2011 9:00PM
Illinois coach Bruce Weber didn't leave the Illinois Team Camp in Champaign empty handed on Wednesday, as Hope Academy guard Jalen James gave the Illini an oral commitment before leaving campus.
James, a 6-3 rising junior, played in games at Assembly Hall and the Ubben Athletic Center throughout the day before giving his commitment.
James averaged 16 points and nine assists per game in helping the Eagles advance to the sectional final in Class 1A.
James also received interest from Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Baylor, Tennessee, Xavier, Florida State and Northwestern. He is Illinois' first commitment for the 2013 class.
"The relationship I had with Bruce Weber, the coaching staff and the players was something special," James said. "Seeing guys like Nnanna (Egwu), Tracy (Abrams), Mike Shaw, and Mycheal Henry come together is great and I think the class of 2013 should be something for Illinois. LeBron said he wanted to take his talents to South Beach but I want to keep my talents here at Illinois and play with the guys that I know."
James believes that he can bring a number of things to the table for Illinois.
"I'm a rebounding point guard. I like to rebound and push tempo and be a vocal leader and get my teammates the best shot that I can," James said. "If I can't get them a shot, I can knock down the open jumper. I really love to play man-to-man defense. Playing man-to-man defense with Chicago players is something I look forward to."
James is now turning his focus to recruiting other members of a strong in-state 2013 class to join him in Champaign.
"Mycheal Henry, Mike Shaw, Nnanna Egwu and Tracy Abrams; they were friends that didn't necessarily play on the same teams but came together to come to Illinois," James said. "I work out Jabari (Parker) and Tommy (Hamilton) and I'm going to try the best I can to recruit those guys."