No. 42 Kendrick Nunn commits to Illinois

When John Groce was named the new men’s basketball coach at Illinois in March, a vocal opposition decried the hire, claiming that he lacked recruiting ties in the talent hotbed of Chicago.

Fast forward five months, and Groce has taken a step toward proving the naysayers wrong. Simeon Career Academy shooting guard Kendrick Nunn made a verbal commitment to Illinois on Saturday during his official visit to the school, becoming Groce’s first recruit from Chicago. ranks Nunn as the No. 42 prospect in the nation from the 2013 recruiting class. The four-star recruit joins guard Malcolm Hill and center Maverick Morgan in Illinois’ 2013 recruiting class.

Nunn’s commitment provides a necessary facelift for Illinois’ image in Chicago recruiting. Former head coach Bruce Weber came under heavy criticism for missing on top prospects like Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis, and the program took another hit this summer when phenom Jabari Parker — Nunn’s teammate at Simeon — did not list Illinois in his top 10 potential schools.

Beyond the recruiting ramifications, Nunn also fits into Groce’s high-octane system that stresses transition offense and “tenacious defense”:

Nunn chose Illinois over marquee Midwest programs like Memphis, Marquette and Ohio State. Previously, Nunn verbally committed to Texas A&M but decided to reopen his recruitment last September. He spent the weekend at Illinois and attended the football game against Charleston Southern on Saturday.

Before leaving Champaign-Urbana, Nunn confirmed his commitment, tweeting: “@JohnGroce I Need That ScholarShip..My State. My School #KendricksKingdom.”

Thomas can be reached at [email protected] and @ThomasBruch.