After a week of deep thought and some sleepless nights, 2011 Chicago St. Ignatius big man Nnanna Egwu made the call and committed to Illinois. Egwu has long been rumored to be an Illini lean but a strong visit to Purdue made it a tough decision. He broke down what he likes about the Illini.
"I can step right into winning at Illinois ," Egwu told us this week. "I know that they have a chance to go to a Final Four while I am there. They have the coaches there that can help me develop as a great player there in four years."
Egwu is the first member of the excellent Illinois Wolves 16U squad to verbal according CEO Mike Mullins, and he is the second member of the Illinois 2011 class, joining fellow commitment Tracy Abrams as a member of the class.
He is ranked as a four star center and the 48th best player in the class of 2011 by Rivals.com. " Illinois was just the right fit for me," Egwu said. "One, I know the talent at Illinois is going to be great. I think we have the talent to go to a final four over the next few years. It will make me better to play against that talent every day in practice. I want to be challenged every day in practice and I think that will make me a better player in 4 years. Second, it's the state school, and it would be great to help bring a national title to the state school, the University of Illinois ."
Egwu also spoke highly of the Purdue Boilermakers, and although they came in second in this race, will be a presence in Illinois for the foreseeable future.
"Purdue is a great school and has great coaches too, but I just felt like Illinois was the best fit for me at this time," Ewgu said. "It was my gut feeling."
Egwu said that Illinois coach Bruce Weber and Assistant Jerrance Howard played a huge role in choosing the Illini, but the coaching staff also got some help from a couple of their commitments in helping to sway him to the Orange and Blue.
"Meyers (Leonard) and Tracy (Abrams) were texting me telling me they wanted me at Illinois , but they also told me to make the right decision for myself," Egwu said. "I look forward to playing with them."
Egwu began to get the feeling that Illinois was the right place as the week wnet on, but at one point he was definitely leaning to the Boilermakers early this week.
"As the week went on, I started to feel that Illinois was the right school, but I wanted to make sure," Egwu said. "At one point, it was Purdue and I kept going back and forth until a couple days ago."
The Illinois staff felt that Egwu can come in and compete for playing time early on in his career. With just 2010 commitment Meyers Leonard, and freshmen Stan Simpson and Tyler Griffey, as the only bigs on the roster, there is playing time to be had.
"They told me that I can come in and compete for playing time early on," Egwu said. "It will be tough, but playing against great players every day makes you better."
Egwu was lucky to have the support of his high school coaches at St. Ignatius and Mike Mullins from the Illinois Wolves to help he and his family through the process. However, he is clear that he is the one that made the final decision.
"The coaches were great, answering questions for me and giving me feedback throughout the process," Egwu said. "But, at the end of the day, it was my decision to choose Illinois ."
We will have more on the Egwu commitment and the impact of that commitment on the class of 2011 for the Illini later this weekend.