Physical Post Lands Illinois Offer

When he's not busy grabbing rebounds, he's probably grabbing offers. Get to know newly-offered 2016 PF Nick Ward.

Illinois extended several offers in 2017 following the most recent evaluation period, but one 2016 power forward who really caught the eye of the Illini staff is Gahanna (OH) Lincoln post Nick Ward.

Ward, who started off his weekend in Lexington with a 23 point, 17 rebound effort, wowed the Illini coaches and landed an offer early the next morning.

"Basically they told me about how they could use me and how they need me," he said. "Stuff like that."

Ward's brand of basketball is physical and aggressive. He isn't afraid to bang in the post and asserts himself on a consistent basis. But with that comes opportunities at the free throw line, and Ward knows he has to be better about cashing those in.

"I like to take it to the opponent," he said. "I definitely need to work on my free throws. I don't know why I've been struggling. I think it's the ball," he said, laughing.

Other than a couple exceptions, Ward's list has a serious Big Ten flavor to it. With offers from a majority of the B1G, Ward feels his style is suited for the type of play typical of the Big Ten.

"I have offers from Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa, Iowa State, Purdue, Kansas State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Miami (FL)," he said. "I think it fits my style. The physicality and the way I can play around the basket."

Ward is effective beyond the block, though. In the past year, he says he's made strides to become a more complete player and added some tools to the arsenal.

"My jump shot, my mid range, my conditioning, and my athleticism (have improved," he said.

Ward knows that his motor and energy can be infectious to his teammates, so he is aware that he has to bring it when he's on the court.

"I think it brings a lot of energy not only to me but my teammates," he said. "I love to get guys clapping and bring energy."

However, Ward still wants to become more vocal for his team on top of just leading by example.

"I try to be more of a lead by example guy," he said. "I'm going to be working on being more vocal though."

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