Finding developing but quality high school big men who are getting better and have a high ceiling is tricky for college coaches. There just aren't many out there.
UIC coach Howard Moore and his staff identified one early in Homewood-Flossmoor's Tai Odiase and the early work paid off as the 6-8½ senior committed to Moore and the Flames on Sunday.
"I was so comfortable with coach Moore, the staff and everything at UIC,," says Odiase. "They have made me feel like a part of their family. I felt the closest to this staff, they made me feel like a priority since day one, and they've been recruiting me the longest. This is the right place for me."
Odiase, who continues to move up the Hoops Report Class of 2014 player rankings -- he's currently among the top 25 prospects in a talented senior class -- came on strong in the final two months of his high school season for coach Jim McLaughlin at H-F. He opened more eyes in the spring and summer while playing on the EYBL circuit with Meanstreets.
The sharp, articulate and mature Odiase is a high character kid with zero baggage. Plus, he's a true big man with size, length and agility. He moves extremely well for a player his size and impacts games defensively with his timing, reach and athleticism. Offensively, he remains raw but continues to make strides with a developing jump-hook and touch.
Odiase's recruitment continued to pick up steam throughout the spring and summer as more mid-major programs tried to get involved. UIC, though, made Odiase's final cut of finalists, along with Valpo, UMKC, Ball State, IPFW and Kent State. But Moore and UIC wrapped up Odiase while he was on his official visit this weekend.
"I've been pretty confident about UIC for awhile," Odiase admitted. "I think UIC and the coaching staff will be able to help me get to where I want to be as a player and as a person."
It's been a busy week for UIC as Moore also received a commitment from Class of 2015 guard Drew Hackett out of Munster, Ind., who averaged 12.5 points a game as a sophomore last season.
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