Center Nnanna Egwu Down To Two Schools

The Fighting Illini basketball coaches are in hot pursuit of a tremendous 2011 signing class. WIth Tracy Abrams already committed, they are now focusing on several top players to join him. The big man they are after is Nnanna Egwu, the Chicago St. Ignatius star. He visited the Illini campus last Sunday, and he may be making a college decision shortly.

Nnanna Egwu is a slender postman from Chicago St. Ignatius. He is slender and inexperienced, but he is progressing rapidly. He traveled to Illinois with his family to see the school and facilities Sunday. No decision can be made without the family's approval.

"It was good. They showed us most of the academic facilities and athletic facilities. It was real nice. I'd seen most of it before, but we were showing it to my dad and my sister. They liked it. My mom didn't come. She had to work."

It appears Egwu is focusing on two schools.

"As of right now, I'm just basically down to Illinois and Purdue. I visited Purdue last Sunday."

Does he hope to make a decision soon?

"Yeah, we hope so. But I'm not sure yet. I have to meet with my coaches and talk it over with my parents and family. Right now, it may come this week or it may come the next few weeks. It depends on how comfortable I feel. It's a big decision, so if I need more time, I'll take it."

The 6'-9" athlete is still quite raw as he has not been playing very long.

"I started playing the summer before my eighth grade year. But I really started playing when I was a freshman at St. Ignatius."

Egwu has long arms and good timing on his leaps, so he blocks a lot of shots. For him, defense came quicker than offense. But he has worked hard on his offense as well.

"This summer, I improved offensively with my 15-18 foot jump shot and facing up to the basket. I was working on my offensive moves all the time."

It helped him to play with the Illinois Wolves 16 and Under AAU team, which played up in the 17U bracket. Coach Mike Mullins teaches a team concept, and both Egwu and the team as a whole improved throughout the summer.

"I got a lot better in the summer. In the big tournaments, I seemed to play a lot better. Not just me, but as a team we improved. We won our last two tournaments. At the end of the summer, we were as good as we're gonna get. It made us all excited to see how we can play next spring. We're very talented."

The slender Egwu struggles against big, strong post players at times, so he realizes he needs to develop his body.

"I definitely need to get stronger. We've been out this fall, and I've been getting in the weight room nearly every day. I've been getting stronger."

However, Egwu has a tremendous attitude about his situation. He believes in turning a lemon into lemonade.

"When you have a disadvantage like that, you have to turn that into your advantage. You have to find another way to use your body weight against them. Try spinning a different way, not always moving the same way all the time. Try not to let them box you out, try different techniques. Just try different ways to box out and get rebounds. That's the only way you can become better. It helps that I'm quick and have long arms."

Chicago St. Ignatius is a developing team. Egwu hopes to lead it to big things this year.

"I think we're gonna be really good. As of right now, we're really banged up. But it's good these injuries are happening before the season than during it. Our shooting guard has back spasms. Our point guard tore his ACL during the middle of the season last year. He was coming back, and his knee started swelling again. So two sophomore guards are in their place.

"If we can get those two back and play as we can play, I think we have a chance to win a lot of games. The big thing for us is getting past that regional. It's not been done since ''73. That's one of my goals this year, to get past the regional and see what happens."

Both Illinois and Purdue would like him to attend their version of Midnight Madness in 11 days. Egwu is uncertain of his plans at this point.

"We've talked about it alot, but I'm not sure. We'll see."

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