Illinois football signee Malik Turner watched the Illini practice at SHG Friday night, where he played his high school ball.
Michael Finke has had a target on his back ever since he committed to Illinois over a year ago. He was the focus of opposing defenses his entire senior season - and all he did was take his game to a whole new level. The Centennial senior is the 2014 WCIA 3 area boys basketball player of the year. Finke was named an IBCA All-State selection after averaging nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior. He did it while shooting better than 55% from the field. Finke led the Chargers to an outright Big 12 title. He finished fourth on Centennial's all-time career scoring list and second in school history in rebounds.
One of the nation's top basketball recruits narrowed his list of schools on Wednesday. Lancaster, Texas five-star power forward Elijah Thomas lists Illinois among his Top 10 schools. The other nine schools on that list are: USC, Florida, Memphis, Oregon, SMU, Oklahoma State, UNLV, Ohio State and Texas. Thomas, who is listed at 6' 9'', 250 lbs, is ranked No. 9 in the Class of 2015 in the latest Rivals.com rankings.
Illinois head coach John Groce and athletic director Mike Thomas were both in attendance at Carver Arena in Peoria to watch Stevenson High School point guard Jalen Brunson in the state semifinals against Whitney Young. It was a record-setting night for the four-star recruit, who scored 56 points. That set a new IHSA state tournament record. Brunson made seven 3-PT, which breaks the Class 4A state tournament record. Whitney Young won the game 75-68. After the game, Brunson gave the middle finger to Whitney Young fans. He has since issued an apology on Twitter.
Illinois-signee Aaron Jordan was named to the Chicago Sun-Times All-Area Team Friday. The Plainfield East junior - and future Illini - averaged 20 points a game, while shooting 47% from 3-PT range. Curie's Cliff Alexander was named the Sun-Times Player of the Year and the Naismith National Player of the Year Friday.
Five-star shooting guard Charles Matthews from Chicago's St. Rita High School verbally committed to Kentucky Wednesday morning, choosing the Wildcats over Illinois and three other finalists. Matthews is the No. 1 player in the state of Illinois and No. 12 in the nation according to ESPN.
The Illinois track and field team added a three-time state champion this week. Pekin's Cole Henderson won the 100m, 200m and long jump at the IHSA State Championships last spring. He had offers to play football and track at smaller schools, but ultimately he decided to focus on track and field at Illinois.
Tim Beckman signed 12 new players on National Signing Day Wednesday, giving him 18 total new faces for next year's incoming class. It's a group that doesn't exactly have the national experts buzzing, but it does fill some positions of need.
Chatrice White is not only the most highly-touted recruit Matt Bollant has ever landed as head coach, she is also one of the most talented recruits in Illinois history. She's hoping to make an equally large impact when she arrives on campus next year. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten sat down with White to find out what she will bring to the U of I.
Centennial senior and Illinois basketball signee Michael Finke's recent trip to the YMCA turned into a bloody mess.
If James Franklin leaves Vanderbilt to become the new head coach at Penn State - as many expect - Danville safety Trent Sherfield says he will re-open his recruitment. Sherfield committed to Vanderbilt in July but hasn't signed yet.
2015 Plainfield East guard Aaron Jordan verbally committed to play basketball at Illinois Saturday. He stopped by the WCIA-3 studios to talk with Matt Wettersten about the decision.
Illinois football recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh said this year's recruits are in a "make it or bust" class. The Illini staff signed six junior college players in the early signing period in an effort to add depth and experience at key positions such as wide receiver and defensive line.
Illinois football got a big time commitment from one of the nation's best junior college players Thursday, 6-7, 280 pound defensive tackle Jihad Ward.
An extended look at Illinois-signee Michael Finke in action against Central.
Four-star quarterback Jack Beneventi (Lisle, Ill - Benet Academy) verbally committed to Iowa Thursday night, picking the Hawkeyes over Illinois.
SHG defeated Montini 38-28 to win the state championship.
Chicago Simeon junior forward D.J. Williams wasted no time committing to play for the Fighting Illini. Making his decision before his junior season, he's the earliest a Simeon player has ever committed to play Division I basketball.
Simeon head coach Robert Smith says it is important that Chicago kids play for their home state school, and he thinks Groce and his staff are changing the perception of Illinois hoops in the Windy City.
Extended interview with Illinois-commit D.J. Williams from Chicago Simeon High School.
Cliff Alexander, the nation's No. 3 recruit, picked Kansas over Illinois at a national televised ceremony this afternoon in Chicago. Here is our full interview with Alexander.
Cliff Alexander, the nation's No. 3 recruit, verbally committed to Kansas Friday afternoon, but not before teasing Illini nation first. Alexander, while making his announcement live on ESPNU, briefly picked up the Illinois hat, only to set it down and ultimately pick Kansas.
Matt Bollant, Mike Small, Kim Landrus, Justin Spring & Brad Dancer talk about signing their latest recruiting classes.
Centennial's Michael Finke will wear his dad's No. 43 at Illinois.
John Groce signs Top 20 class; local athletes sign for their colleges of choice
Extended interview with 4-star PF Leron Black, who will sign with Illinois on Wednesday
Tomorrow John Groce will sign the first members of his 2014 recruiting class. One of those players who can't wait to make it official is Memphis (TN) star Leron Black. The four-star power forward talked with WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten about what drew him to Illinois, and what kind of impact he thinks he can make.
While Illinois fans continue to wait for news on Cliff Alexander, John Groce is already getting to work on the Class of 2015. On Tuesday Groce landed a verbal commitment from Chicago (Simeon) 4-star forward DJ Williams.
By all accounts, five-star recruit Cliff Alexander had a great time on his official visit to Illinois over the weekend, and it is still unclear whether he will take more unofficial visits to other schools before announcing his decision next month.
One of the nation's top recruits, Cliff Alexander, sets his decision date just one day after releasing his Top 5 list, which includes Illinois, DePaul, Michigan State, Kansas and Memphis.
Cliff Alexander, one of the nation's top recruits for the Class of 2014, announced late Thursday night he will take an official visit to Illinois on October 26th. Alexander is the No. 2 player in the nation and No. 1 power forward, according to ESPN. This visit will be the fifth and final official visit Alexander is allowed to take. The Chicago (Curie) big man already visited DePaul late last month. He will take an official visit to Arizona this weekend. He also has visits scheduled with Kansas and Memphis.
One of the top high school point guards in the country made his college decision tonight, and it is great news for the Illini. Quentin Snider, who is ranked among the Top 30 players in the country, verbally committed to John Groce and the Fighting Illini shortly after 6:00 pm CT Thursday night. Snider becomes the highest ranked recruit Groce has landed in his short time at Illinois. The Louisville-native made the announcement at his high school, choosing Illinois over UCLA. ESPN ranks Snider as the 7th best point guard in the class of 2014, which is a position of need for Illinois. Snider has originally committed to Louisville, but decommitted from the defending national champs, and tonight he picked Illinois.
John Groce landed a big verbal commitment from 2014 forward Leron Black Sunday morning. He's a 6'7" forward out of Memphis. Black is rated as a five star recruit and the 22nd best prospect by Rivals.com. He is a four star recruit according to ESPN.com. Black joins Michael Finke as verbal commitments for the class of 2014.
In the last year, Zach Grant has called four schools home - Rochester High School, St. Ambrose, Northern Illinois and now Illinois, which will be his last stop. WCIA 3's Austin Kim explains what this state record-holding wide receiver brings to the Fighting Illini.
Junior wide receiver Martize Barr, a junior college transfer, sat down with sports director Aaron Bennett to talk about the effect of the DC pipeline, and why that made him want to play at Illinois.
Former Rochester wide receiver Zach Grant is transferring to Illinois
Tim Beckman continues to bring in more offensive weapons for next year. Now he is bringing in one of Wes Lunt's favorite receivers and one of his best friends. Zach Grant announced today he will transfer to Illinois, according to a report from Channel 1450's Zach Kerker. We spotted Grant checking out Illinois practice earlier this week. Grant was an all-state receiver playing with Lunt at Rochester High School. In fact he holds the IHSA all-time state record for most receiving yards in a single season with 2,310. He set multiple school records his freshman season at St. Ambrose. He then announced he was transferring to Northern Illinois, and instead Friday announced he's joining the Fighting Illini. Grant will have to sit out next season - alongside Lunt - due to NCAA transfer rules. He will then have 3 years of eligibility remaining.
Illinois baseball coach Dan Hartleb landed a verbal commitment Wednesday night from one of Wisconsin's best high school pitchers. Brendan Meissner, a right-handed pitcher from West De Pere High School, announced his commitment on Twitter. "Just made the best decision of my life by committing to the University of Illinois to play baseball," Meisnner wrote. "I couldn't be happier right now!" Meissner is listed at 6-2, 188 lbs. He is from the Green Bay area.
A number of Illinois' top recruiting targets were in Champaign Wednesday watching the Orange and Blue on the practice field. One of those is Jacksonville's Gabe Megginson, who already holds an Illini offer. Megginson spoke with WCIA 3's Austin Kim about what makes him a well-rounded talent.
Illinois basketball fans have been watching Larry Austin, Jr. since he was an eighth grader, hoping someday he would pick the Orange and Blue. Since then the offers have come rolling in - more than a dozen of them - and Thursday Austin made his choice. The Springfield Lanphier senior announced he will play basketball for the Tennessee Volunteers and head coach Cuonzo Martin. Austin chose UT over Illinois, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Missouri, Memphis and others. He is one of the Top 100 players in the country and one of the top point guards nationally.
Illinois wrestling coach Jim Heffernan got a verbal commitment Tuesday afternoon from Glenbard North star Jered Cortez. "Officially committed to wrestle and study at the University of Illinois," Cortez announced via Twitter. "Time to prepare! ILL-INI!!!" Cortez is a three-time IHSA state champion and a winner at the USA Wrestling Junior Freestyle National Championships.
Tim Beckman was vocal this week about the lack of roster depth he inherited at Illinois, and now he is doing something about it on the recruiting trail. In fact, just days after landing one of the top junior college wide receivers in the country, he got two more verbal commitments Thursday afternoon.
4-star JUCO wide receiver says "yes" to Beckman
Centennial quarterback and Illini recruiting target Jimmy Fitzgerald is getting lots of attention from D-1 schools and as the focal point in the Chargers' offense. WCIA 3's Austin Kim has more on how he's handling the extra attention.
Danville QB/Safety Trent Sherfield committed to Vanderbilt Thursday. He's one of the top safeties in his class. He also had offers from Illinois, Purdue, Indiana and others. He will likely play defensive back for Vandy.
Rising junior picked up first offer from Bradley
Illini recruit grows into a leader, and looks to do Danville proud at the next level.
Centennial QB picks up 2nd D-I offer
Danville QB also holds Illinois offer
Centennial QB talks about first Division I offer