The Fighting Illini’s success this season has distracted us from the fact that Brad Underwood’s staff had surprisingly only secured one commitment from the class of 2021. Illinois was finally able to add another name to that recruiting class Monday evening. Ramses “RJ” Melendez announced his commitment on Instagram:
Melendez, a 6-foot-7 swingman from Central Pointe Christian in Kissimmee, Fla., is rated as a four-star recruit by 247Sports composite rankings (97th nationally) and a three-star by Rivals (145th). He chose the Fighting Illini over offers from schools including DePaul, Dayton, Iowa State, Nebraska, Alabama, Georgia Tech & Florida. Melendez also played for his native Puerto Rico at the U17 World Championships
Top assistant Orlando Antigua has helped the Illini make significant inroads in Latin America, previously landing Andres Feliz in 2018 & Andre Curbelo in 2020.
At 6-foot-7, 190 pounds, Melendez has a nice frame that will likely see another 20-30 pounds added once he gets to campus. He’s a plus athlete with good instincts and great catch-and-shoot ability from the outside. Melendez’s game is similar to that of former Illini Alan Griffin. Neither looks to create their own shot off the dribble, but move well off the ball. Although, it looks like Melendez is a bit more of a slasher.
Melendez is now the second commit for Illinois’ 2021 recruiting class, joining 6-foot-5 guard Luke Goode. The Illini are still in the mix for Texas Tech transfer — and Chicago native — Nimari Burnett, as well.