Sterling Star Bertrand Excited To Be Illini

Wednesday is signing day for high school senior basketball players. With all the early commitments, the day itself may not be as filled with intrigue as past years. But it will be a day of relief for both players and their respective schools. Sterling's Joseph Bertrand committed to Illinois more than a year ago, so he's glad to get it finalized.

"I can't wait for it to happen and get it over with. Oh yeah, definitely (it seems like an eternity since he committed). It was fun to commit, but hopefully this signing day will be even better."

Peter Goff, Joseph Bertrand's high school coach, is also pleased to see an end to the waiting.

"We're all excited about him signing with Illinois. It's been a long process, but we're finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now with him signing on the 12th."

Goff understands why Bertrand was attracted to the Illini.

"Joseph really liked the other players Illinois was recruiting. He felt really comfortable with the coaching staff. I think he was comfortable because I like Coach Weber and his staff. I've known Coach Weber for awhile. And then getting to go down there on unofficial visits and getting to know the other players.

"When he was a freshman and eighth grader, he loved Dee Brown. I think that really attracted him to Illinois. You know, the possibility of him, D. J. (Richardson) and Brandon (Paul) making another run like Dee, Luther (Head) and Deron (Williams) did."

The 6'-5" guard has met and played with his fellow signees, and he looks forward to working with them in the future.

"I know them pretty well. It should be a great experience."

Bertrand is somewhat enigmatic, playing great some games and then going unnoticed in others. His coach thinks he is sometimes too unselfish, looking to help his teammates rather than looking for his shot.

That wasn't the case last summer when Sterling met Paul's Warren team in the Assembly Hall. He rose to the challenge and scored on a variety of shots. It reminded him of their long-term potential playing together.

"Playing on the UI court with one of the players who will be playing with me down there, seeing what we both can do on the big stage, it ought to be good for us."

Goff described Bertrand's game and potential.

"Joseph can go a little bit anywhere. He can run the one, go to the off guard. If you want him to post up, he can post up. Defensively, he's a little bit better. He's gotten a little bit stronger. The sky's the limit for him this year.

"He showed glimpses of what he can do and how he can take over games this summer and last year. He's really played well on the Assembly Hall floor. I think he had 28 last year at the Shootout at the Hall, and I think he had like 34 this summer."

Joseph's most recent visit to the UI coincided with the "World's Biggest Basketball Practice" held at Memorial Stadium after the Homecoming football game. He enjoyed watching the action on the field and the chance to get in some practice games afterward with other recruits in attendance.

"It was crazy. Seeing all the fans in the stands showed their loyalty to the UI. We got in about 2 games (at Ubben) because of all the people there. Everybody I will play with was there. D. J. came down, and that was the first time in awhile since he's been in Vegas."

Joseph Bertrand may not be ranked as highly as his three fellow signees, but his future is bright. When he puts it all together, he will be a big asset to the Fighting Illini.

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