LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. - For the third time in the last year John Groce and the Illinois basketball team are the bridesmaids. Illinois' top prospect, Stevenson point guard Jalen Brunson, chose to return to his family's roots picking Philadelphia's Villanova over Champaign and the Illini. Brunson's decision comes just ten months after Quentin Snider decommitted from the Orange and Blue in favor of Louisville. That same day, Curie big man Cliff Alexander chose Kansas over Illinois in what will forever be remembered as the hat fake. Brunson left out the drama Wednesday. He simply unzipped his sweatshirt revealing a Villanova shirt - and hat.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - For the second straight weekend John Groce will host one of the best point guard recruits in the country when Jawun Evans begins his official visit to Champaign Friday. Evans is a four-star recruit from Dallas, Tex. (Kimball HS), and he is ranked among the Top 30 recruits nationwide in the 2015 class.
Five star Stevenson point guard Jalen Brunson took an official visit to Illinois this weekend. He was at the football game Saturday. He is a top Illini recruiting target. Brunson is ranked as the 15th best prospect in the class of 2015 according to rivals.com.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The game time is now set for the Braggin' Rights game against Missouri. The U of I announced Friday that the game will tip off at 1:00 pm CT on December 20th and will be televised on ESPN 2. Meanwhile the Big Ten schedule was released Thursday night, and the big thing that stands out immediately is that Illinois opens up with four of their first five games on the road - including back-to-back games at Michigan at Ohio State. It's a tough way to start, but it makes finishing strong all the more important.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Big Ten schedules for both the men's and women's basketball seasons were released Thursday.
URBANA, Ill. - Former Illinois basketball coach Lou Henson held his 13th annual Illini Rebounders golf outing Wednesday afternoon at Stone Creek in Urbana. All the proceeds benefit the Illinois basketball program.
Champaign Centennial graduate Michael Finke, now a freshman on the Illinois basketball team, accepted Aaron Bennett's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge - and issued a few more challenges to his Illini teammates.
Former Illinois basketball player Brett Melton has spent the last few days giving back to his hometown. Melton was a standout player at Mahomet-Seymour in the late 90's. Bad ankles forced him to transfer after just two seasons with the Illini, but as our Bret Beherns shows us, Melton still bleeds orange and blue.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois Board of Trustees officially approved a contract extension and raise for men's basketball coach John Groce on Thursday. Groce gets a one-year extension that runs through the end of the 2018-2019 season, and a $100,000 raise that brings his total salary up to $1.7 million. This is the second extension and raise Groce has received in his two years at Illinois. He has a 43-28 overall record with the Illini, which includes one NCAA Tournament berth and one NIT appearance.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas announced Wednesday Warren Hood will replace Tom Michael as senior associate athletic director overseeing the State Farm Center renovation, after Michael was introduced Tuesday as athletic director at Eastern Illinois.
After playing professional basketball for three seasons in Paris, France, former Illinois basketball standout and Centennial alum Trent Meacham is looking for a new place to play in Europe next year.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois basketball will add EIU-transfer Alex Austin as a walk-on, Austin confirmed to WCIA 3. Austin played two seasons at Eastern Illinois before announcing he would transfer elsewhere. The Mt. Carmel grad averaged 7.0 ppg as a sophomore last season at EIU. That's a decrease from his 9.3 ppg average as a freshman. Austin will have to sit out this season, due to NCAA transfer rules, and then he will have two years of eligibility remaining.
SAVOY, Ill. - Former Illinois basketball star Kendall Gill was back in town Monday for his 25th annual golf outing to benefit Cunningham Children's Home. The event has been a hit every year since Gill graduated from the U of I more than two decades ago, and he never misses an opportunity to come back. "Cunningham Children's Home is definitely the beneficiary of everything we do," Gill said. "And we're just glad to bring attention to their cause and what they're trying to do."
CHICAGO, Ill. - A committee of trustees presented a plan Thursday that would give Illinois men's basketball coach John Groce a raise and contract extension, and all it needs is approval by the full Board of Trustees later this month. The Governance, Personnel and Ethics committee met Thursday in Chicago and recommended rewarding Groce with a $100,000 raise and a one-year contract extension. The raise would bring his salary to $1.7 million, and the extension would keep him under contract through the 2018-2019 season. This is already the second raise and extension Groce has received in his two years at Illinois. He has one NCAA Tournament appearance and one NIT berth so far at Illinois. The full Board of Trustees will meet July 24 to approve the raise and extension.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's basketball team will have to move as many as five home basketball games away from State Farm Center in November 2015 because of construction on the arena. A U of I spokesman said Monday the athletic department has known for quite some time that the arena wouldn't be available for the beginning of the year.
The Illinois men's basketball team has plenty of guards this season. Eight players are listed as guards on the roster, giving Illini head coach John Groce plenty to work with.
Illinois senior point guard Tracy Abrams is using last year's adversity to fuel his workouts this summer.
Illinois guard Kendrick Nunn is still not 100% after knee surgery more than two months ago. The sophomore is expected to be a full participant in practice next week.
Illinois sophomore Malcolm Hill is making big gains on and off the court this summer. The Belleville native has gained 21 pounds as he tries to take his game and body to the next level.
Illinois sophomore Sarah Livingston is leaving the women's basketball program after one season with the Illini. The Morton native is heading to the University of Southern California to play volleyball.
Illinois freshmen basketball players Leron Black and Michael Finke are adjusting to life as college basketball players.
Illinois basketball recruit Aaron Jordan is working hard this summer on his game and in the weight room. The 2015 shooting guard is looking to gain weight by lifting with football players.
Former Illinois basketball standout Meyers Leonard is spending the summer working on his game, trying to become a full-time player with Portland TrailBlazers.
The Illinois men's basketball team spent the last four days training with former Navy SEALs, learning about teamwork, communication and leadership.
CHICAGO - No matter how far away basketball takes Dee Brown, he's always wearing his orange and blue. He keeps close tabs on the Illini - watching them on TV any chance he gets. As we finish our three-part series in-depth with Dee, he talks recruiting, his relationship with John Groce, and his dream of one day coaching at Illinois.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Some of the University of Illinois' all-time great basketball players are on board with the U of I's plan to try to land the IHSA boys and girls state basketball tournaments beginning in 2016. Players from the 1988-89 Flyin' Illini, a team made up of exclusively in-state players, have been some of the most outspoken advocates for bringing the tournament back to State Farm Center.
CHICAGO, Ill. - For the last decade Dee Brown has put together a successful basketball career - both in the NBA and overseas - but its what he does off the court that makes him just as proud.
CHICAGO - After seven seasons overseas playing in six different countries, former Illinois star Dee Brown is now a free agent waiting to find out which team will sign him for next season. "I moved back to Chicago maybe three weeks ago," Brown said. "Just been working out, getting ready for next season. The process in the summer is you're just working out, staying healthy, staying sharp on your game. Waiting for your agent to shop you around. For me it's always tough because you never know where you're going to end up."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois junior Aaron Cosby is hoping to make a big impact this season, now that he is eligible to play after transferring in from Seton Hall. Cosby actually spent some time in China last month playing against some of the local teams from the Far East.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) – University of Illinois head coach Matt Bollant announced the signing of senior guard Brittany Carter to the Fighting Illini roster on Thursday. Carter will be eligible for the 2014-15 season and will have one year of eligibility remaining after graduating from Ball State in three years.
Former Illini great Dee Brown sat down with WCIA 3 to talk about baseball, music, family and coaching. Here he talks about recruiting Chicago and why John Groce can't win without the Windy City's elite talent.
PORT ARTHUR, Tex. - Darius Paul's new head coach at Lamar State - Port Arthur, Lance Madison, says he's excited to have suspended Illini forward Darius Paul join his team, and his main goal is to help Paul improve as both a person and a player. "Darius made some poor decisions," Madison said. "And I think part of his process being here is developing some personal growth. Hopefully Darius will mature as a person and make good decisions. We want him to be successful, and we're going to try to give him all the resources to be a successful student here at Lamar State."
GURNEE, Ill. - Suspended Illinois forward Darius Paul has decided to play junior college basketball next year. Paul has signed a letter of intent with Lamar State College - Port Arthur, according to the NJCAA website. Paul was suspended for the entire upcoming Illinois season following two failed drug tests and an arrest. He has said he wants to finish his career at Illinois, and that still could be possible. After one year at a junior college, Paul could come back to Division I basketball for the 2015-2016 season.
PEORIA, Ill. - Illinois basketball coach John Groce wants Darius Paul back, and insists Paul is still a "part of [the] family," but wouldn't elaborate Thursday night on what Paul's path back to the team will entail.
URBANA, Ill. - We are learning more about the circumstances that led to Darius Paul's season-long suspension from the Illinois basketball team. According to police records, Paul admitted to officers he has failed two drug tests for marijuana since transferring to Illinois from Western Michigan.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois head coach John Groce announced forward Darius Paul has been suspended for the entire 2014-2015 season after what Groce calls a review of "multiple transgressions." Paul was arrested last month for underage drinking and resisting police. “After a thorough review of Darius’ year, which includes multiple transgressions, I am suspending Darius from all team-related activities for the entire 2014-15 season,” Groce said in a statement. “As head coach, my concerns are always what is best for the University of Illinois, what is best for the men’s basketball program, and what is best for our student-athletes as people. I feel this penalty is necessary to help Darius as a person. We will continue to support him through this process.” An University of Illinois spokesman confirmed to WCIA 3 that Paul will not be on scholarship during his season-long suspension. Paul transferred to Illinois after an outstanding freshman season at Western Michigan. He had three seasons of eligibility remaining.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - In John Groce's words, this summer will be "huge' for his team as they try to build off a strong finish to last season and work their way back into the NCAA Tournament picture next year. Illinois returns all but two players (Bertrand, Ekey) from last year's team, and Groce - who is entering his third season - is looking forward to the chance to work his team for eight weeks in the offseason. Strength and conditioning will be an important point of emphasis heading into next season.
COAL VALLEY, Ill. - John Groce has been hitting the recruiting trail hard this summer looking for the next big point guard. Groce calls that position "the quarterback" of his team, and it is a big time position of need moving forward. You can imagine that was a popular topic of conversation as the Illini Caravan stopped in the quad cities Thursday night.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Illinois recruit Leron Black is one of 21 high school basketball players across the nation selected for the 2014 USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team training camp.
Champaign, Ill. (UI Release) – Match-ups for the 16th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge Presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods have been determined. Illinois will travel to Miami to face the Hurricanes on Tuesday, Dec. 2.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- Police say a UI basketball player was arrested early Tuesday.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) – Junior guard Ivory Crawford was named Illinois’ most valuable player at the team’s postseason banquet hosted by the Courtsiders Monday night at the iHotel. Head coach Matt Bollant and his staff also honored Amber Moore as the team’s lone senior and recognized her with commemorative basketballs for scoring 1,000 career points and breaking school records for single-season and career three-pointers made. In addition, junior forward Nia Oden was named the team’s defensive player of the year, freshmen Jacqui Grant and Ashley McConnell were named most improved, and junior guard Kyley Simmons earned the Courtsiders Illini Spirit Award. Crawford averaged 14.4 points per game and led the Illini in rebounding at 5.9 per game. She also had a team-best 66 steals and was second with 62 assists. She ranked 12th in the Big Ten in scoring, 20th in rebounding, third in steals and third in offensive rebounds (2.8 per game).
Champaign, Ill. - Champaign-native Rayvonte Rice was named the team's Most Outstanding Player at the Illinois basketball banquet Monday nigh at the I-Hotel in Champaign. Rice led the team in scoring and ranked eighth in the Big Ten with nearly 16 points per game. The Centennial grad and Drake transfer carried his team offensively, scoring in double figures 31 times. Rice was also near the Top 10 in the league in rebounding and sixth in the conference in steals.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - John Groce said Tuesday he will continue to explore the possibility of adding another transfer this offseason, even though right now they don't have any available scholarships. Groce has already been in contact with multiple transfers since Illinois' season ended. Some are fifth-year transfers who could be eligible next season. Others would be transfers will multiple seasons of eligiblity. Groce said it's not a done deal that they will add another player, but he is leaving open that possibility.
Former Illinois basketball assistant coach Jay Price weighs in on whether the Illini will look to add another player to next year's team.
Illinois basketball recruit Chatrice White will get the opportunity of a lifetime Wednesday night when she suits up in the McDonald's All-American Game (6:00 pm, ESPNU). White is just the second Illinois women's recruit ever to be named a McDonald's All-American, and she talked with WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten about the honor and the chance to play with the best in the country.
Clemson defeated Illinois 50-49 in the second round of the NIT Saturday. Rayvonte Rice scored 15 points and Jon Ekey scored 11. Bret Beherns reports on the game while former Illini assistant coach Jay Price provides analysis on the Sunday Sports Wrap.
The Illini hit the road again for the second round of the NIT Sunday (10:00 a.m.) at Clemson, and the players told reporters on Friday they feel fortunate to still be playing after falling behind by 17 at Boston. The Illini somehow dug themselves out of that hole and survived to play another day.
Future Illinois basketball players Michael Finke and Aaron Jordan were named to the Illinois All-State team Thursday.
The Illinois men's basketball team won its 20th game of the season Wednesday night, the fifth time in the last six years that's happened. But the Illini's 66-62 win over Boston University in the opening round of the NIT, will go down as one of the most dramatic in school history.