Jeff Borzello, ESPN Staff Writer 829d

Jeremiah Tilmon, No. 29 in ESPN 100, picks Illinois

Illinois Fighting Illini

Top-30 prospect Jeremiah Tilmon has committed to Illinois, he told ESPN on Monday.

Tilmon chose the Fighting Illini over a final list of Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State, Texas and Missouri.

"I feel that I trust them and that's where my heart is telling me to be," Tilmon said. "I feel that they believe in me and will do everything in their power to get me where I want to be. I have a great relationship with the coaches and Illinois is my home. East St. Louis is my hometown, I can't forget where I came from."

Tilmon, a six-foot-10 center who plays for La Lumiere (Indiana), is ranked No. 29 in the ESPN 100 for the 2017 class, slotting in as the No. 6 center. He's the highest-ranked prospect to commit to Illinois since John Groce took over in 2012, with the Fighting Illini reeling in five ESPN 100 prospects in the last four classes. The previous top recruit for Groce was Jalen Coleman-Lands, ranked No. 34 in 2015.

Illinois has been on the losing end of several of these types of battles in the last couple of years, most notably when elite big man Cliff Alexander chose Kansas over the in-state Fighting Illini in 2014.

"It feels great, honestly," Tilmon said. "I take pride in loyalty and that's one thing they are. I think we will do big things and go further than they have in a long time."

Tilmon missed the Nike EYBL regular season and Peach Jam after dislocating his shoulder toward the end of his high school season, but he has shown the potential to be a dominant inside force at both ends of the floor when healthy. With Groce entering a key year in Champaign, picking up a commitment from Tilmon gives the Fighting Illini some momentum moving forward after a tumultuous season, both on and off the court. Illinois is expected to lose inside players Mike Thorne Jr. and Maverick Morgan after the 2016-17 season.

Illinois now has three commitments in the 2017 class, with Tilmon joining four-star guard DaMonte Williams and shooting guard Javon Pickett. All three are Illinois natives.

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