The Mr. Basketball race in Illinois just got really interesting.
Illinois commit and five-star center Jeremiah Tilmon confirmed on Tuesday that he is transferring back to East St. Louis from powerhouse prep school La Lumiere for his senior season.
After spending his junior season at the LaPorte, Indiana-based prep school, the 6-foot-10, 235-pound Tilmon figures to be a major factor for the Flyers this year as he'll enter the IHSA season as the No. 1 big man in the state.
As a sophomore at East St. Louis, Tilmon averaged 11.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game before making the move to La Lumiere last fall to improve his academics while facing tougher competition. During his lone season at La Lumiere, Tilmon started on one of the best teams in the country as the Lakers made it the DICK's Sporting Goods Nationals title game before losing to Oak Hill Academy.
In that national title game in early April, Tilmon suffered a dislocated left shoulder that caused him to have surgery in late May. The injury and subsequent recovery forced Tilmon out of this spring and summer on the grassroots circuit. Tilmon averaged 13.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game at La Lumiere last season.
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Regarded as the No. 24 overall prospect in the Rivals Class of 2017 national rankings, Tilmon is the most important Illinois commit in the John Groce era and one of the best in-state prospects to enter the program in years. Tilmon picked Illinois over Kansas and North Carolina in July as he's part of an in-state, three-man recruiting class that includes Peoria Manual guard DaMonte Williams and Belleville East wing Javon Pickett.
With his ability to score around the basket, rebound and defend the rim, Tilmon will be a major factor for Mr. Basketball this year as long as he is healthy from his dislocated shoulder. Tilmon should also help East St. Louis quite a bit, as the Flyers finished 12-14 last season before being eliminated by Belleville East in a Class 4A regional semifinal game.
Illinois high school basketball is getting quite a bit of talent back in the state this season as Tilmon joins other Division I prospects like Alonzo Verge (Thornton) and Joey St. Pierre (Richmond-Burton) in returning to the Land of Lincoln. The return of Tilmon and Verge, in particular, means that the Mr. Basketball race could be really crowded next season and it should make for a fun storyline to keep track of thoughout the winter.