6-9 star signs letter of intent for Illini

John Supinie

When Illinois received the letter of intent Wednesday from Chicago Simeon senior forward Stan Simpson, the Illini picked up a mobile power forward with an expanding game.

The three-star recruit is the only player the Illini will sign in November. The 6-foot-9, 220-pounder played last season for Chicago Leo, where he averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.

The All-Catholic League performer led Leo to the Class AA sectional finals before losing to Simeon.

"We feel he will be a versatile big man for us with his ability to play both power forward and center positions,'' coach Bruce Weber said. "His strength as a junior was more rebounding, shot blocking and scoring down low.

"He can score with his back to the basket and has worked hard on his skill development and post moves. He is now starting to face up and can shoot it well out to 15 feet. He helped Leo have some success, and now he is playing for a perennial power at Simeon.''

A special mention all-stater by the Chicago Tribune and an honorable mention pick by the Champaign News-Gazette, Simpson played AAU basketball last summer for the Illinois Warriors and coach Larry Butler, a powerful AAU coach.

He is considered one of the top two big men in the state of Illinois. Last spring, Simpson's reputation skyrocketed, and he was the talk of the Class AA state tournament and spring AAU season.

Simpson becomes part of the Simeon pipeline that already included Nick Anderson, Deon Thomas, Bryant Notree, Ervin Small, Kevin Turner and current junior Calvin Brock.

John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com. For more coverage, read Illini Talk blog at www.sj-r.com and www.pjstar.com.