Player of the Game: Jon Ekey

With 12 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes, Jon Ekey was the Player of Game against McKendree.

CHAMPAIGN - Jon Ekey continues to prove his worth at each passing benchmark in what is to be his first and only season at Illinois.

The senior transfer from Illinois State scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in Thursday's 101-66 exhibition victory against McKendree.

"Just very active, played hard," Coach John Groce said. "Was really lively on the offensive glass. I thought he was really active. I love the pace at which he played the game tonight."

Groce said earlier this week the 6-foot-7, 225-pound Ekey was the highest-graded player in practice. The forward was impressive in last week's Orange & Blue Scrimmage, building on that performance with an efficient 5-of-7 shooting clip and four offensive boards Thursday night.

The rebounding, Ekey says, is a point of emphasis, a task important to both him and the coaching staff.

"I mean that's just one of the things all the coaches are telling me, every practice, every day, just going, hitting the glass hard," Ekey said. "I've just got to be able to go in there, whether it's already down there trying to push guys out or coming from the outside and trying to get in there for a tip-out."

Ekey may be a newcomer but he's already considered a leader on a team in need of just that. His 18 minutes of play Thursday were a mix of production and effort, crashing the paint for tip-outs and on one occasion sliding to the ground for a loose ball.

"Jon's really a smart player, really smart guy, picks up things really quickly," Groce said. "He's been a great assets and addition to our team."

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