Zacharie Perrin, a top international basketball prospect, has committed to the University of Illinois, he told ESPN on Tuesday.
"Coach Underwood and Coach Alexander came up with a very detailed plan for how to take my skillset and body to the next level," Perrin said via text. "They analyzed my film, figured out my strengths and weaknesses, and laid out a plan that made a lot of sense. They are a winning program, coming off back-to-back Big Ten championships. They are also a team that needed a rotation big, so there is a chance I can help them right away."
The 6-foot-11, 220 pound, 17-year-old Perrin is considered one of the most promising European prospects committing to the college route in the class of 2022. A late bloomer who stood only 6-foot-4 in 2019, he was almost a complete unknown before earning a surprise place on the French U18 national team at last summer's European Championship as a 16-year-old, where he emerged as one of the team's best scorers and rebounders.
Perrin was named MVP of the Adidas Next Generation qualifying tournament in Patras, Greece this past April, after posting 17.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in 31 minutes per game. He was later called up to the Next Generation All-Star Team at the Euroleague Final Four in Belgrade, Serbia, in May, posting 10 points and 5.8 rebounds in 23 minutes per game. He spent this past season playing for Antibes in the French Espoirs Pro B league, where he was named MVP after posting 21.5 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals in 30 minutes per game, converting 68% of his 2-point attempts and 26% of his 3-point attempts in 24 games.
"I didn't consider college until very late in the process since I was focused on going pro with Antibes," Perrin said. "UCLA, Texas, Florida, Memphis and BYU all recruited me, but the facilities, staff and the overall level of the Big Ten made it difficult to pass up Illinois. Once college programs started to present their projects, it became clear to me that's what I wanted to do. I didn't have a ton of European options outside of Antibes because of French league regulations."
Perrin, who doesn't turn 18 until the end of August, will be one the youngest players in college basketball next season. He plans on enrolling at Illinois at the conclusion of the FIBA U18 European Championship, which will be held in Izmir, Turkey the first week of August. The lefty Perrin caught the eye of international scouts and college coaches with his size, wingspan, frame, fluidity, touch and scoring instincts, playing with a level of confidence offensively that belies his lack of experience.
"My goal is to first and foremost become a better basketball player. I am only 17 years old, and still need a lot of development physically. There isn't a better place to gain strength than college. I will also focus on becoming a very good outside shooter. I think I can become a very tough mismatch both at the 4 with my size and at the 5 with my shooting and quickness. Hopefully it gets me to a high level of professional basketball in a few years."
Illinois is undergoing quite a bit of turnover from last season's roster, which won a share of the Big Ten championship. Leading scorers Kofi Cockburn, Alfonso Plummer and Trent Frazier are all off to the pro ranks, while Jacob Grandison and Andre Curbelo transferred to Duke and St. John's respectively. In their place, Illinois landed two of the top players in the NCAA transfer portal in Baylor's Matthew Mayer and Texas Tech's Terrence Shannon Jr, as well as a strong recruiting class consisting of four-star prospects Skyy Clark (No. 25 in ESPN 100), Ty Rodgers (No. 52), Jayden Epps (No. 83) and Sencire Harris (unranked). Junior Coleman Hawkins, a projected NBA draft pick next season, and sophomore RJ Melendez, are expected to break out as starters and potential All-Big Ten caliber players. ESPN's Jeff Borzello slated Illinois 25th in his preseason rankings.
Perrin is Illinois' 12th scholarship player, and is expected to be the final addition to the roster this summer.
Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and International teams.