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Illinois added a French big man. Who is he?

Zacharie Perrin adds to a loaded 2022 class.

U18 Next Generation Select Team v U18 Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade - EB Adidas Next Generation Tournament Photo by David Grau/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

On Monday, Illinois added a late commitment to their 2022 class in 17-year-old, 6-foot-11 big man Zacharie Perrin from France.

Perrin chose Illinois over UCLA, Texas, Florida, Memphis and BYU and will now add to what was already a top-10 recruiting class in the country for Brad Underwood and his staff. He is considered one of the top international prospects to choose the college route.

“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 told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony about his commitment. “...the facilities, staff and the overall level of the Big Ten made it difficult to pass up Illinois.”

So what exactly are the Illini getting in this late-blooming big man?

Perrin was almost a completely unknown talent until his addition to France’s U18 national team last summer where he averaged 9.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. He then spent this past season playing for the Antibes U21 team in the French Espoirs Pro B League where he was ultimately named MVP after averaging 21.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game.

Let’s dive into Perrin’s skillset and what the Illini are getting with their latest commit.

First and foremost, this kid is just a straight-up bucket-getter. It’s easy to see how he averaged nearly 22 points per game in France when you watch his footwork in the post combined with his ability to drive and score with both hands.

Here’s two clips, one where Perrin displays a strong post move off good position and another where he shows off some craftiness with a spin move and finish from the top of the key.

His mid-range game and 3-point shot need to improve, but he’s shown flashes of being a capable shooter at various times. It seems plausible that he can develop into a true outside threat some day that will allow the Illini to stretch the floor with all five guys. Here’s a simple pick and pop that he splashes home:

His quickness and ball-handling ability is really intriguing for a guy of his size. He’s clearly not afraid to push the ball down the floor himself. Take a look at him take a defensive rebound coast-to-coast past three defenders for the finish:

The staff has to like what Perrin has shown as a passer. Rarely have the Illini had a guy at the 5-spot who’s been able to comfortably dish out assists and provide a secondary option in offensive creation to go with their lead guards. If Perrin can continue to develop his passing ability, it’ll make the future Illini offense that much more versatile.

Here’s an example of Perrin getting a catch on the block and immediately turning and finding a cutter:

One of the biggest things to like with Perrin’s game is his combination of length and mobility. For a guy with plus-size, Perrin is able to move up and down the floor with ease and shows solid agility on the defensive end to pair with obvious shot-blocking prowess. He should fit right into the transitioning style of play that Brad Underwood is looking for post-Kofi Cockburn, providing a mobile big on the frontline that’s able to switch fairly comfortably in ball screen actions.

Here’s a good example in this clip of him getting switched onto a guard, staying in front, and using his length to finish the play with a block:

While he may not get much playing time right away, I’m excited about what Perrin can provide the Illini long-term. It’s clear that he’ll need to continue to develop physically to be able to be an effective Big Ten big, but with Adam Fletcher’s help that should be more than doable. Perrin doesn’t turn 18 until Aug. 30 and will have plenty of time to refine an already complex skillset while practicing with an extremely talented roster. This is as exciting of an addition as Illini fans could’ve hoped for to fill one of their last two 2022 scholarship spots.

Brad Underwood just keeps rolling.