Watch now: Illinois football, men’s and women’s basketball reel in recruits | Ncaa

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CHAMPAIGN — Illinois and first-year coach Bret Bielema have put a heavy emphasis on in-state recruiting, but the program isn’t afraid to look elsewhere for the right fit. Over the last week, the Illini have benefited from both approaches.

Matt Fries, an offensive tackle from New Jersey, verbally committed to Illinois on July 2. Two days later, he was joined by in-state linebacker Jared Badie. Both players are rated as three-star prospects by 247Sports and are the Illini’s 12th and 13th recruits, respectively, in the Class of 2022.

“I am committed to the University of Illinois! Thank you (Bielema, offensive line coach Bart Miller, linebackers coach Andy Buh), and the rest of the staff for the opportunity,” Fries tweeted July 2. “I would also like to thank my family, coaches and community for their continued support.”

Fries is Illinois’ third recruit from New Jersey, joining tight end Owen Anderson and quarterback Donovan Leary. According to 247Sports composite rankings, Fries, a Cranford High School standout, is the No. 31 overall prospect in New Jersey and the No. 115 offensive tackle nationally for the Class of 2022. He chose the Illini over scholarship offers from Arizona, Arizona State and Indiana, among several others.

Fries, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 275 pounds, is the younger brother of former Penn State offensive lineman Will Fries, who now plays for the Indianapolis Colts.

Badie won’t have to travel as far as Fries when they begin their college careers together in Champaign. The 6-5, 218-pound linebacker has shined at in-state Oswego East High School and picked Illinois over Big Ten foes Michigan State, Minnesota, Indiana, Nebraska, Purdue and a few other Power Five programs.

“It’s just something ’bout the boys back home… #committed,” Badie tweeted July 4.

Badie is the Illini’s seventh in-state recruit for the Class of 2022. According to 247Sports composite rankings, he is the No. 14 overall prospect in Illinois and the No. 73 linebacker nationally. Badie joins in-state Joliet Catholic linebacker Malachi Hood as the Illini’s second defensive recruit.

Akron star

Playing basketball at NBA superstar LeBron James’ alma mater in Akron, Ohio, comes with a different type of spotlight than perhaps the typical high school in America.

However, Sencire Harris has proven that he can handle the attention of being St. Vincent-St. Mary’s latest prep star. The 6-3, 160-pound lefty led the famed program to its ninth state title in March, and a few months later he’s fulfilled another lofty goal by choosing a college to continue his career.

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Illinois and coach Brad Underwood reaped the reward.

Harris is the second player to verbally commit to the Illini in the Class of 2022, joining Tennessee shooting guard Reggie Bass. Harris, also a shooting guard, made his announcement in a video he shared via Twitter and Instagram on July 3.

“1000% Committed,” Harris wrote in a short message accompanying the video. “#fightillini I’m home”

According to 247Sports composite rankings, Harris is a four-star recruit, the No. 2 overall prospect in Ohio and the No. 100 overall prospect nationally in the Class of 2022.

He chose Illinois over Cincinnati, Hampton, Maryland and Xavier.

Making her mark

It’s no secret that the Illinois women’s basketball program has struggled for the better part of a decade and most recently under coach Nancy Fahey. The Illini haven’t had a winning season since 2012-13, and with Fahey at the helm they’ve gone 35-79 overall and 6-64 in the Big Ten over the last four seasons.

But, Fahey may have just landed the piece that will help Illinois change course.

On Tuesday, in-state prospect Camille Jackson verbally committed to the Illini. According to ESPN, the 5-foot-11 guard, who has made a name for herself at Butler College Prep in Chicago, is rated as a four-star recruit and the No. 57 overall prospect in the Class of 2022.

“I am excited to help build the program and make my mark,” Jackson wrote in a heartfelt message she shared via Twitter.

She picked Illinois over Arizona State, DePaul, Illinois-Chicago, Louisville, Marquette, Mississippi State, Missouri and Penn State.


Follow James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid



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