Forward commits to UI

ROCKFORD – A center one day, a forward the next.

So far, a pretty good week for Illinois men's basketball coaches, who today received their second oral commitment of the fall, from 6-7 1/2 Rockford Boylan star Damir Krupalija.

On Monday, 6-9 Westark (Ark.) Community College center Festus Hawkins announced he'd re-sign with the UI during next month's fall signing period.

Krupalija, who led Boylan to the Class AA state tournament last winter, chose the UI over Indiana, Michigan and Northwestern.

He was expected to make the announcement today at a 3:15 p.m. press conference at Boylan.

"I visited there three times and I really liked the coaching staff and the players I met there," he said. "I'm pretty sure Illinois basketball is going to go up."

Krupalija made an official visit to the UI two weeks ago, when Penn State's football team was in town.

"That was a toughie," he said.

He averaged around 16 points and 10 rebounds as Boylan's center last season. At the UI, the 205-pounder plans to move to small forward.

"As a 6-7 1/2 guy at Boylan, I'm pretty much an inside player here, but I don't see myself playing inside in the Big Ten," Krupalija said.

Born and raised in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Krupalija moved to Rockford with his family two years ago because of the war.

Illinois coaches are hoping for a third commitment this weekend when Peoria Manual point guard Frank Williams visits campus.

Another News-Gazette All-Stater, Oak Park Fenwick's Corey Maggette, has scheduled an official visit

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