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Illini secure first recruit of 2019 class

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Illini secure first recruit of 2019 class

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood watches his team from the sideline during the game against Indiana at State Farm Center on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood watches his team from the sideline during the game against Indiana at State Farm Center on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood watches his team from the sideline during the game against Indiana at State Farm Center on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood watches his team from the sideline during the game against Indiana at State Farm Center on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.

By Brian Binz, Staff writer

Brad Underwood has secured the first commit for the 2019 class.

Antwan January committed to the Illini over Florida State and Kansas State, among others. January transferred to Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix this fall after playing in the Los Angeles area.

The four-star center will add much-needed front court depth next year, when the Illini will lose grad transfer Adonis De La Rosa, leaving the Illini with just two scholarship players over 6 foot 8 inches.

At 6 foot 11 inches and 240 pounds, January has the physical tools to be a productive big man for the Illini and gives them insurance if five-star center Drew Timme commits elsewhere next week.

For Underwood, this gets the ball rolling on a recruiting class that has missed on several top-shelf prospects like EJ Liddell and Oscar Tshiebwe, making Illini fans worry that the momentum of last year’s class had already run out.

January is the highest rated front court recruit in Underwood’s tenure, ranked 120th overall and the 21st center in the nation, as well as the 10th rated player in California. January also brings an experience at the high school level that no Illini big on the roster has, playing in the Pangos All American camp.

While January may not have the hype that Liddell or Timme has, he’s a solid start to the 2019 class.

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