Simeon forward D.J. Willams verbally commits to Illini basketball

Illinois head basketball coach John Groce made another splash on the recruiting trail Tuesday morning when Class of 2015 recruit D.J. Williams verbally committed to play for Illinois starting next season.

Williams is a 6-foot-7 forward from Chicago who is currently a junior at Simeon Career Academy. He is listed as a four-star recruit by, and ESPN ranks him the 29th best overall player in the Class of 2015 and Rivals ranks him 45th.

Williams is Illinois’ first Class of 2015 commitment. He will join former Simeon teammates and current Illini freshmen Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate in Champaign.

A two-time Illinois state championship at Simeon with Nunn and Tate, Williams played behind current Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker and went up against him in practice every day.

The decision to commit as a junior eases the recruiting pressure for Williams. He also had offers to play at DePaul, Florida, Nebraska and Southern Methodist. 

His commitment comes just 10 days before another Chicago native, Cliff Alexander of Curie Metro High School, is scheduled to make his college announcement. Alexander, the No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2014 according to, is deciding between Illinois, Memphis and Kansas. He recently nixed Michigan State from his list.

Alexander has set Nov. 15 as the date he will announce his decision. Illinois already has Class of 2014 verbal commitments from Leron Black of Memphis, Tenn., Quentin Snider of Louisville, Ky., and Michael Finke of Champaign.

Sean can be reached at [email protected] and @sean_hammond.