Illinois Basketball: 5-star recruit says of Illini, “school I’d love to go to”

Mar 17, 2022; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood stands on the
Mar 17, 2022; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood stands on the / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois basketball is always looking to build for the future, and as of right now, a big-time recruit likes the program.

Brad Underwood has hit a home run with the class of 2024, as this group ranks No. 21 in the country. Morez Johnson Jr. leads the way for the incoming Illini players. He is a four-star forward who continues to rise in the recruiting rankings. I fully expect him to be Illinois’ first McDonald’s All-American since Jereme Richmond as well.

As Illinois starts wrapping up the class of 2024, the coaching staff starts turning more attention to the 2025 and 2026 recruiting classes. One player to keep tabs on is Chidi Nwigwe.

This past Sunday, Illinois was in to watch Nwigwe in a high school tournament. Illini assistant coach Geoff Alexander has been tabbed with being the main recruiter for Nwigwe. While there is plenty of time as far as a commitment is concerned, Illinois is definitely in the mind of the superstar recruit.

In a recent article with Charlie Parent of Zagsblog, Nwigwe talked about his recruitment. He mentions a few times like Duke, Providence, LSU, and Alabama in the article. But Nwigwe also mentions Illinois, since Coach Alexander was in to watch him play.

"“They’ve [Illinois] been really trying to recruit me,” he said. “I’d love to get in contact with them, and it’s definitely a school I’d love to go to.”"

Chidi Nwigwe from Zagsblog article

The fact Coach Alexander has made that much of an impact on Nwigwe this early in his recruitment is great. Hopefully, that means Illinois will be a team to watch in his recruitment down the road.

Illinois basketball landing 5-star Chidi Nwigwe would be huge for the program

There is a reason Illinois is pursuing Nwigwe. This kid is extremely talented. He is a 6-foot-7, 195-pound sophomore from Bergen Catholic out in New Jersey. He is rated as a five-star recruit and ranked as the No. 18 player in the class of 2026. Nwigwe is also the No. 5 shooting guard in the country and the best player coming out of New Jersey.

When you are a sophomore and already have over nine scholarship offers, you know you are doing something right. This kid brings great speed and physicality to the game. And just when he has you on your heels, the kid can knock a three-pointer down.

Nwigwe’s recruitment is only going to explode. He is going to have a choice between every program in the country. My hope is that Illinois can somehow win out at the end of the day.

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