PF Robert Eppinger Talks About Gopher Interest
Robert Eppinger was named Moline Thanksgiving Invitational MVP as he averaged 19.7 points a game and led Jefferson to a 2-1 mark in the tournament. Eppinger was the NIC-9 MVP last season as he led the J-Hawks to a 12-4 conference record, their first NIC-9 title in and their first state tournament appearance and the first Elite Eight appearance by a Rockford Public School since 1993. He was named second-team Class AA Tournament along with Glenbrook North's Sean Wallis, Brother Rice's Bobby Frasor, Carbondale's Josh Tabb and Downers Grove South's Elliot Engelmann as they finished fourth, losing to eventual state champion Glenbrook North in the semifinals and Downers Grove South (57-44 as he had 17 points and 10 rebounds) in the third-place game. He scored 62 points and grabbed 29 rebounds in four games in the state tournament. Eppinger finished 21st in the Mr. Basketball of Illinois voting with ten points (one second-place vote, four third-place votes).
Eppinger lead the J-Hawks to a 20-7 mark as a sophomore as he averaged 12.9 points per game
Eppinger is expected to carry a bigger share of the offensive load with the graduation of 6-foot-10 center Pat Nelson, who signed with Ball State and 6-foot-7 Matt Peterson. Despite the losses of his frontcourt help and head coach Mike Winters, who resigned to take the head coaching job at Rock Falls, Eppinger thinks that the J-Hawks can be just as good, if not better next season.
"We'll do better, if we compete."
Eppinger said that he is hearing from Minnesota, Wyoming, Iowa, Seton Hall, Purdue and Illinois State. He has received offers from Minnesota, Seton Hall, Purdue and Illinois State.
Observers will notice a different player this season for Jefferson as Eppinger lost 25 pounds to drop to 220. He felt that the weight loss would help him become more well-rounded.
"A lot of people look at me as a big man, but I think that the weight loss will help my quickness. I got the game to be versatile."
Eppinger scored an 18 on the ACT, but plans to retake the test. He has a 2.6 GPA and plans to major in communications.
Eppinger attended the Minnesota-St. Francis (PA) game in late December. The Gophers have recruited the Rockford area in the past and landed point guard Aaron Robinson, who finished his eligibility this season. Eppinger has connection to Robinson as his former coach, Tony Box, is Robinson's guardian. The connection helped get the visit from Eppinger, who said that Minnesota is his current favorite and he plans to come back in August.
"They've been playing really good the last few years. I like the campus. I'm going up there to see the atmosphere and I might commit."
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