Illinois notebook: Illini football at Soldier Field?

John Supinie

CHAMPAIGN -- When he was hired in August, Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas wanted the Illini to be the king of Chicago.

One step was becoming more of a presence there. While Illini basketball is close to finalizing a deal with Auburn to play at the United Center on Dec. 29, there are indications Illinois football will play a game in Soldier Field within the next two to three years.

An announcement on an Illinois football game in Chicago could come by the end of the month.

The basketball game against Auburn would fill Illinois' schedule and serve as the team's annual trip to Chicago. Not to be forgotten, the Big Ten Tournament will return to Chicago next season and begin a rotation with Indianapolis.

NAME GAME: With college basketball transfers making news, keep an eye on Wright State guard Julius Mays. The fifth-year senior is looking to jump. He already made a visit to Kentucky with Illinois and Purdue his likely next stops.

Mays spent his first two seasons at N.C. State before transferring to Wright State, where he graduated. He would have one year remaining and become eligible immediately after a transfer.

Freshman guard Nic Moore, who plans to transfer after a coaching change at Illinois State, was offered a scholarship by Ohio when John Groce was coaching there. Thus, the Illini are expected to make a hard push for Moore.

Meanwhile, Illinois extended scholarship offers to Chicago St. Rita freshman Charles Matthews, Ottawa (Kan.) junior forward Semi Ojeleye and Maverick Morgan, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound junior from Springboro, Ohio.

NOTEWORTHY: After making a recruiting visit to SMU this week, former Illini guard Crandall Head committed to the Mustangs before leaving the campus Thursday.

Illinois hired Mark Morris as director of basketball operations. Morris previously served on Groce's staff at Ohio the last two seasons as a graduate assistant.

John Supinie can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @JohnSupinie.