College/Prep Sports Reporter

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

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Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team:

Episode 120: Practice starts this week

In the last week four-star center Franck Kepnang committed to Oregon and three-star center Sam Ayomide committed to Memphis. Illinois was more involved with Ayomide than Kepnang at the tail end of their respective recruitments, but like the Illini's pursuit of another Class of 2021 wing the number of big men left on their board is dwindling.

Has dwindled, actually. Basically down to one.

Four-star center Mac Etienne stands alone. He's the last big man standing on Illinois' recruiting board. At least at the moment. 

Etienne, per multiple reports, also isn't in a hurry to make a decision on his college basketball future. A commitment probably won't happen until the spring. Illinois, however, remains firmly in the mix and, based on a potential real need of Kofi Cockburn insurance for the 2021-22 season, will push to remain in the mix for whenever Etienne's decision comes.

The Gatorade Player of the Year in Connecticut this past season after averaging 15 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and two assists, Etienne has moved on from Suffield Academy (Conn.) to prep power Brewster Academy (N.H.). He'll play his senior season with essentially an entire team of Division I prospects. 

Here's some video of Etienne from Brewster's fall workouts shared by coach Jason Smith:

And a few quick takeaways (all offensive because Brewster was pumping him up):

  • Etienne is comfortable facing up or playing with his back to the basket
  • When facing up can attack off the dribble or pull up with a soft touch
  • Right-handed, but not afraid to go to his left
  • Range extends to the three-point line, and it's not forced
  • Can be both a pick-and-pop 5 and a dunk-on-your-head 5

Scott Richey covers college basketball for The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).