Illini eyes on Class of 2021 stars


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CHAMPAIGN — Illinois basketball's 2019 class is likely settled with the addition of Belgium forward Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk although the Illini's lone open scholarship does keep them in play for Boston grad transfer Tyler Scanlon. When it comes to the 2020 class, Illinois' priorities are clear — more guards and another big man. Think Mac Irvin Fire teammates Adam Miller and Ryan Kalkbrenner.

But it's never too early to start thinking about the Class of 2021. Illinois certainly isn't putting that off. In fact, the Illini coaching staff is swinging for the fences with offers out to 14 of the top 35 players in the class.

That includes four new offers in the last week to more highly-regarded soon-to-be high school juniors. The biggest name of that group is five-star prospect Terrence Clarke out of Boston and Brewster Academy (N.H.). The 6-foot-7, 185-pound guard is ranked as high as No. 2 in the 2021 class and put up 17 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game this spring playing for Expressions Elite on the Nike EYBL circuit.

Other Class of 2021 recruits picking up recent Illinois offers included four-star wings Kendall Brown (Cottage Grove, Minn.) and Harrison Ingram (Dallas) and four-star point guard Manny Obaseki (Allen, Texas). Brown was the leading scorer for East Ridge in the Minneapolis suburbs at 17.5 points per game, while Ingram averaged 18.4 points, 11.1 rebounds and 5.7 assists for St. Mark's School of Texas in north Dallas.

While Illinois is maintaining its wide recruiting base in the 2021 class with offers out to players across the country, one of the Illini's top targets plays just 2 1 / 2 hours north. Five-star guard Max Christie — a 2019 News-Gazette All-State First Team pick out of Rolling Meadows — is the top player in the state in his class. He averaged 25.5 points, 10 rebounds, 3.2 assists, two steals and two blocks for the Mustangs as a sophomore.

The rest of Illinois' 2021 targets include a variety of prospects. There's the long-term relationship (Jaden Hardy out of Las Vegas), the family relationship (sophomore guard Alan Griffin's younger brother A.J.) and another Mac Irvin Fire connection (Michael Foster Jr.).

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).