Illinois fans have been waiting for first-year coach John Groce to land another big commitment in the Class of 2013.
Groce delivered Monday, securing a verbal commitment from four-star recruit Austin Colbert.
Colbert, a 6-foot-9 forward from Gladstone, N.J., chose the Illini over Seton Hall, Villanova and Miami.
“Coach Groce told me that Illinois has the second-largest alumni network after the University of Texas. He said that if I take care of my business and do good in the classroom and show good character, that I will be well off after I get my degree and graduate,” Colbert said by telephone shortly after his announcement.
Colbert joins Belleville East guard Malcolm Hill, Springboro, Ohio, center Maverick Morgan and the Simeon backcourt duo of Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate in the Illinois 2013 recruiting class. All five can sign letters of intent starting Wednesday.
“It was amazing at Illinois. They really broke it down with how they can use me in the system and their plans to move forward and I really trust them,” Colbert said. “It was really family oriented, all the way down to the alums. The best thing about the university is that it was warm and welcoming.”
Colbert’s senior season at Gill St. Bernard’s is on hold. Gill St. Bernard's is his third school in four years and he won’t be eligible to play until January while adhering to transfer rules. Colbert began his career at New Jersey power St. Patrick’s, where he played for two years before transferring to the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut for his junior year.
“I can practice and I can play in the scrimmages, but I just can’t play in the games,” he said. “I’m so excited. It’s still mind blowing, I can’t believe that it’s finally over and I’m excited about Illinois.”