Player of the Scrimmage: Nnanna Egwu

With 17 points and six rebounds Thursday, junior Nnanna Egwu was the Player of the Scrimmage.

CHAMPAIGN - All the hard work Nnanna Egwu put in this offseason was on display in his dominating performance in Thursday's intrasquad scrimmage.

It may not have been a real game, but the junior big man scored 17 points and hit eight of his nine shots, an encouraging performance given his increased role this season.

"Obviously he was really efficient," coach John Groce said. "He's improved a great deal. I think you saw that. Those things are a byproduct of who he is and how hard he works. I think we've got to continue to develop him. He's hungry. He's fun to work with."

The 6-foot-11 Egwu now weighs over 250 pounds and worked hard this summer to add strength to a body that was already well-conditioned. He said he could tell a difference playing in the simulation-game atmosphere, already noticing the benefits of his work.

"Definitely in terms of getting post position," he said. "Running out in transition and getting good post position and keeping it through the possession."

In fact, Egwu did such a good job getting position that Groce had a hard time being happy with his starting center because he was upset with the lack of defense others were offering.

"I don't think we did a good job keeping him out of there," Groce said. "A lot of time it was one pass to the wings and in."

Egwu's improvement hasn't all been of a physical nature. He's also increased his role as a leader.

"Absolutely. You have two seasons under you, you know what's going to come," he said. "It's on me to teach these young guys how to play and how to get use to the system and use to college basketball. Overall I think we've done a good job."

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