Crandall Head On Campus, Nearly Healthy

A lot is expected of the upcoming basketball season at Illinois. Five returning starters and significant talent in the freshman and sophomore classes provide renewed optimism. One new freshman who is somewhat of an unknown at this point is Crandall Head. But if he recovers completely from knee surgery, he can compete for playing time.

Crandall Head exploded on the scene as a sophomore in high school, being ranked among the elite players in the country. But an enigmatic junior year followed by a torn knee ligament created confusion. Unable to play his senior year at Rich South, his future is uncertain.

Now on campus and attending classes, Head reports he is almost back to full health.

"It's about 90%. It's getting better every day. I'm doing a lot of squats and trying to get a lot of weight on it to get it back strong."

Illinois trainers and strength people don't want him overexerting yet. He finds it easier to run up and down the court than to move laterally, so he must return to full activity gradually. He is playing pickup games, but not all of them.

"They told me I can go game on, game off. I'm getting in the gym every day and getting up shots, getting up and down the court. Tomorrow they're going in and examining both of my legs to see where I need to get stronger and what I need improvement on."

Last year was difficult for Head. But he found a way to use his free time constructively.

"I looked at it like, it was time to get my school work together. I've been working on my shot a lot to get my shot better."

It is hard to keep him from playing basketball all day long. He was grateful to be past the initial recovery process.

"I got my surgery September 29th, and I got back on the court in three to four months. Back at home, I was playing a lot with my friends at a local gym."

Once his NBA season concluded, former Illini Luther Head began working out with his younger brother.

"Before I came up here, I was playing with him every day. Going at 9:00 o'clock in the morning and working out with Tim Grover. He's been with the Pacers, so he's gonna try to get back with them."

Head is proud of what his brother accomplished at Illinois, enough to wear his uniform number.

"I'm wearing number 4 this year. I'm gonna try to keep the legacy going."

Head may not be able to do everything on the court yet, but he is probably more comfortable of his new surroundings than fellow plebes Meyers Leonard and Jereme Richmond.

"It feels like home. I've been coming down here for a long time. My brother was here, and then coming down during the recruiting process."

Head is registered for two summer classes.

"Classes are going pretty good. They're a lot of fun. There are a lot of football players in the classes, so I'm getting to know them a lot better. I'm taking Animal Science and Human Development."

Head is convinced he will be 100% by the time fall drills begin. There will be a lot of competition for playing time at the guard spots, but he is ready for it.

"It all depends on how I come in and work. I'll just try to earn my spot on the court. It's just a matter of time, just getting on the court and getting my game back where it was. Maybe even better."

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