NCB On The Trail: Kendrick Nunn

Simeon's Williams commits to Illinois

November, 5, 2013
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Chicago Simeon junior forward D.J. Williams committed to Illinois on Tuesday.

Williams, a 6-foot-7, 203-pound small forward, chose the Illini over DePaul, Florida, Georgetown, Providence, Purdue and SMU.

“From my first time on campus, I was just thinking it was the right move,” Williams said by phone on Tuesday morning. “I’ve liked [Illinois] coach [John] Groce on and off the court. It’s also close to my home. My family can watch me play. The Big Ten is also one of the best conferences in the country."

Williams is ranked No. 28 in ESPN’s Class of 2015 and is the highest-ranked recruit Groce has landed since being hired in March of 2012. Illinois has two top-50 recruits committed in the Class of 2014 and signed two top-100 recruits in the Class of 2013.

ESPN RecruitingNation scout/analyst Reggie Rankin thought Williams could be an impact player in the Big Ten and was another significant recruit for the Illini.

“I think he’s a wing player that can score,” Rankin said. “He’s got great length. He’s got a terrific mid-range game. He’s active and he’s got tremendous upside. He’ll be an excellent wing scorer in the Big Ten. That’s a tremendous get for them, especially from another instate, Chicago high school power.

“I think that now Groce has been there a year and he’s more established that these things are going to happen more consistently. It may not be a steady stream, but I think he’ll be able to get high-level underclassmen early because they’re established there as a team and are doing well and are projected to do well. They also have an excellent class in play in 2014. I think it’s part of Groce and his staff being more established and working their home turf, which is a tremendous recruiting ground for them.”

Williams was optimistic he could attract other top players from his class and help build Illinois into a championship contender.

“I can now start recruiting for the other players to kind of join me,” Williams said. “Illinois is rolling really good. With the players they have coming in and more from my year, I think we can make a big run in the NCAA tournament.”

Williams is the third player from Simeon to commit to Groce. He previously signed shooting guard Kendrick Nunn and point guard Jaylon Tate from Simeon. Both are expected to play for the Illini as freshmen this season.

Simeon coach Robert Smith said he was proud to send players to Illinois.

“It’s one thing [former Simeon coach Bob] Hambric talked to me about when I was younger, about keeping guys at home is always big for Simeon, Illinois and the state,” Smith said. “I think it’s a great opportunity. Our basketball is too good in the state to have everyone leave for other schools. That’s my drive to let other people and coaches know to try to keep our guys home. It’s not for everyone. It’s best for some players to go to Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina because it doesn’t fit here, but we should try to make our basketball rich and good in Illinois.”

Williams has made a number of unofficial visits to Illinois during the past few years. His most recent visit came during Illinois’ football homecoming on Oct. 26.

Illinois assistant coach Paris Parham was the lead recruiter on Williams.

Illinois is also among the final four schools for Chicago Curie senior forward Cliff Alexander, who is ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2014 by ESPN. He will announce between DePaul, Illinois, Kansas and Memphis on ESPNU on Nov. 15.

“Williams’ commitment certainly can’t hurt with Alexander,” Rankin said. “It shows another Chicago high-level player has earned their trust to go to Illinois.”

Williams is Illinois’ first Class of 2015 recruit.

New Illini coach inks Top 25 class 

November, 14, 2012
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First-year Illinois head coach John Groce announced his 2013 signing class on Wednesday.

Joining the Fighting Illini next season will be ESPN 100 recruits Kendrick Nunn (Chicago/Simeon) and Malcom Hill (Belleville, Ill./Belleville East) along with C Maverick Morgan (Springboro, Ohio/Springboro), PF Austin Colbert (Gladstone, N.J./Gill St. Bernard's) and PG Jaylon Tate (Chicago/Simeon).

"This is an exciting day for our program as we welcome Austin, Malcolm, Maverick, Kendrick and Jaylon to the Fighting Illini family," Groce said. "One of the top goals we had in this first year here was to sign a five-player class that fits our needs at every position, and I couldn't be more pleased with our results. These are five outstanding young men who have tremendous character, come from great families, and of course excel on the basketball floor."

The Illini class checks in at No. 23 on ESPN's RecruitingNation.

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Colbert to join Illinois' class 

November, 12, 2012
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Three-star power forward Austin Colbert (Gladstone, N.J./Gill St. Bernard) committed to Illinois on Monday. He announced his decision on www.SNY.tv.

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Simeon PG Tate commits to Illinois 

October, 4, 2012
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Point guard Jaylon Tate (Chicago/Simeon Career Academy) verbally committed to Illinois on Thursday, according to ESPN Chicago.

Tate made his decision while on an official visit Thursday when Illini head coach John Groce offered him a scholarship.

"It's great," Simeon head coach Robert Smith told ESPN Chicago. "They're getting another quality guy who knows how to win, is going to work hard and gives them that relationship with the (Chicago) Public League again."

Tate held some mid-major offers and was starting to see high-major interest from schools like Georgetown and Northwestern. He will join his high school teammate and ESPN 100 SG Kendrick Nunn, along with ESPN 100 SG Malcolm Hill (Belleville, Ill./Belleville East) and C Maverick Morgan (Springboro, Ohio/Springboro) in Groce's 2013 class.

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Illinois lands SG Kendrick Nunn 

September, 15, 2012
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ESPN 100 shooting guard Kendrick Nunn (Chicago/Simeon) ended his recruitment on Saturday with a verbal pledge to Illinois, sources confirmed to ESPN.com.

The 6-foot-1 Nunn chose the Illini over Memphis, Marquette and Ohio State. He originally committed to Texas A&M before his junior season.

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Kendrick Nunn sets official visits 

August, 22, 2012
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Four-star shooting guard Kendrick Nunn (Chicago, Ill./Simeon), who named a final five earlier this month, has scheduled his official visits, ESPNChicago.com reports.

The No. 56 player in the ESPN 100 will visit Illinois on Sept. 14, Memphis on Sept. 21, UCLA on Sept. 28, Ohio State on Oct. 5 and Marquette on Oct. 12.

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Four-star shooting guard Kendrick Nunn (Chicago/Simeon) narrowed his college choices to Illinois, Marquette, Memphis, Ohio State and UCLA, according to ESPNChicago.com.

Nunn, who is the No. 54 ranked player in the ESPN 100, is the high school teammate of No. 1 overall player Jabari Parker.

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