Nnanna Egwu is the big man in the middle of the 2011 recruiting class for Illinois. In his first game after signing his National Letter of Intent with Illinois, Egwu put on a show to open up his senior campaign.
St. Ignatius played Chicago Prosser in its first game at the New Trier Invitational. The future Illini center started off by showcasing what he is best known for, his defense. Egwu is a monster on the defensive end by anticipating and moving into position to block and alter shots.
He is quick off the floor when swatting shots and keeps the ball in bounds to help his team start the fast break. In the first quarter alone, Egwu posted 4 blocks against an undersized Prosser team.
In the second frame, the St. Ignatius center showed off his offensive repertoire. Prosser packed its defense in tight to attempt to slow Egwu down, but he used a variety of post moves to score. This included a couple of nice turnaround jump shots, going both ways with a soft touch that showed excellent form. Egwu says it is important for him to continue to develop his post game.
"You have to keep adding things to your game like the turnaround jump shot, jump hook, left or right, you have to score both ways."
He is very active in the paint on the offensive end. Egwu makes crisp cuts to receive the ball and opens up wide in the post, which makes an easy pass for his guards to feed him the ball. Out of the high post, Egwu is a good passer and makes solid decisions to find open teammates. He also is a good outlet passer.
The future Illini center fought hard on the glass all night and does not give up. To end the first half, he fought for a tough offensive rebound and finished it with a short jump shot to close out a spectacular quarter for his team.
Egwu is a leader. He is always communicating on the floor, whether it is about basketball or encouraging his teammates.
St. Ignatius won the game by a wide margin. His stat line was 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 blocked shots in about two and a half quarters of play. Egwu was happy with how his team played in its opening victory.
"I started off kind off slow with just two points in the first quarter, but it doesn't really matter. We were just getting into the flow of the offense. All of the other guys played really well. Inside-out game. They shot very well from the outside.
"Tyronne (Staggers) really had a big game. He established the inside and took the pressure off of me. At the start of the game they focused on me, but then Ty was making shots so now they have to focus on both of us. It was a pretty good game. Everyone played really well defensively. We were aggressive on the ball and deflecting passes."
This was Egwu's first game back coming off surgery for a herniated disc that he suffered over the summer. The big man says he is ready to go.
"I feel really good. I think I am 100%."
While Egwu is looking forward to his senior season, he is also excited about his future with the Illini. Although he has been committed for over a year, he says it was nice to sign his letter of intent.
"It was real nice to make it official and put it on paper. I am really proud and glad to part of the Illini family and be with Mike Shaw, Tracy Abrams, and Mycheal Henry. We are going to be really good, so it feels good to be a part of a good family and good team."