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Michael Finke commits to Illinois, bolsters John Groce's 2014 recruiting class

Champaign native Michael Finke became the first player in the 2014 class to commit to Illinois on Wednesday.

USA TODAY Sports

Excited by the program's 11-0 start to kick-off the season, local power forward prospect Michael Finke verbally committed to Illinois and head coach John Groce on Wednesday, according to a report by Scott Powers of ESPNChicago.com.

The 6'9, 190-pound Finke is rated as a two-star prospect by Scout.com, and is listed as both the No. 8 player in the state of Illinois and the No. 16 power forward in his class by ESPN.com. Though he held offers from Wisconsin, Purdue, Kansas State and Iowa, the Champaign, Illinois native has been so blown away by the team's hot start in 2012 that he couldn't help himself.

"It just felt right," Finke said. "After watching them and seeing how great they're playing and seeing myself going beyond the arc and down low for them in their system, I know I'll fit. I've been talking to them for a while. I know they care about me. I know I can contribute."

While Finke is the first signing in Groce's 2014 class, the first-year coach has already assembled a five-man 2013 haul that includes a pair of four-star prospects and a trio with three-star distinctions. Finke's dangerous mid-range game could make him a terror down the line in Groce's up-tempo offense, and he could easily fly up recruiting rankings over the next year as he grows into his frame.