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Illinois Basketball Hosts Jason Jakstys For An Unofficial Visit



BREAKING: Illinois Basketball Lands In-State Big Man
Twitter: @JakstysJason

Illinois basketball has spent the large part of its summer chasing their portal targets. While there have been mixed results, the lack of offers and visits have made Brad Underwood’s priorities clear. With the portal now closed and just about every portal-er finding a chair for next year, the Illini have gone back to preps. In the portal era, big dogs like Illinois will likely no longer be signing large prep classes, with Underwood’s 2023 class more representative of their approach than their massive 2022 class. Yorkville native Jason Jakstys’ offer and visit to Champaign this weekend is the first real movement in the class.

1. The Player

Around a supercharged frontcourt grinder like Johnson Jr. the Illini are understandably looking for skilled perimeter players to give him the most space to do his damage. Jakstys provides that skillset in a 6’11” package, making him the type of profile who can maximize Johnson’s skillset. Jakstys has a solid foundation offensively. He has good movement off the ball and can splash shots over smaller defenders, even showing some off the dribble chops.

What impressed me about Jakstys was despite being the best player on his team, it very rarely feels like he hunts offense. Yorkville played him next to a non-shooting big and had him operate mostly on the perimeter as a power forward. He shows good processing out there, able to diagnose and deliver passes to cutters as well as entries to the post.

The full game between Yorkville and Joliet West is on YouTube. Joliet featured the two Fears brothers: Jeremy a Michigan State commit in 2023 and Jeremiah who is a top 100 recruit in 2025. Jakstys held his own protecting the basket as well as on the perimeter when he was switched onto one of the two shifty guards. He shows good timing and instincts shot blocking, although he will need to put on serious weight and gain strength to convey that to the Big Ten. He also showed strong hands both receiving passes and rebounding.

Currently Jakstys is unranked according to 247Sports and is the sixth ranked player in the state in 2024. Illinois is his only high major offer, but he has visited Iowa.

2. The Resume

Jakstys didn’t put up eye-popping numbers by any means, averaging 11 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. As mentioned, he isn’t the most aggressive offensive player and can float around the perimeter at times. He had strong performances at the recent Riverside Brookfield Summer Shootout, an Illinois high school basketball event. He had 13 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks in a game the Illini staff watched. The Monday after the Shootout they pulled the trigger on an offer.

3. The Fit

Jakstys would be a developmental piece for the Illini. He has a lot of gangle to his movements, and gets knocked off balance like a lot of 6’11” teenagers do. Adam Fletcher could certainly help in that regard in a big way. But even with a full summer of strength and conditioning, with Amani Hansberry, Dain Dainja and Johnson Jr. on the books for next year there isn’t a clear path to playing time in either of his first two years. That’s also without factoring in any portal adds in the frontcourt.

It can be easy to see similarities to Brandon Lieb. Both Illinois natives who didn’t flash onto the radar until later in their high school career. Although, the Illini’s interest in Jakstys comes much earlier than Lieb’s. To avoid a similar path, Jakstys would do well to continue to develop his perimeter game. His ability to be a true stretch big would make him a very valuable piece next to Johnson Jr. and Hansberry. It would also make him a versatile piece around aggressive downhill guards the Illini could add.

Brian is a former sports writer for the Daily Illini who has been covering Illinois Basketball for over 5 years. Brian is now the lead basketball reporter for Armchair Illini, the go-to source for Illinois athletics news. He has had work published on Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, USA Today and more.