By Joe Henricksen
Purdue may have just missed out on 2011 big man Nnanna Egwu of St. Ignatius to Illinois in a down-to-the-wire recruiting finish, but the Boilermakers picked up a 2012 commitment from promising Jay Simpson. The ironic part is that Simpson, who is on a visit with his family at Purdue this weekend, is right in the heart of Fighting Illini country as he's from Champaign Central.
Simpson has grown to a legit 6-8, dropped 10 pounds and is making strides with his perimeter skills and face-up jumper. While he is certainly more of a 4-man right now, he has the tools to be a potential combo forward who can step out and play the wing. Simpson is currently among the top dozen prospects in the City/Suburban Hoops Report Class of 2012 rankings.
Purdue assistant coach Jack Owens was the lead recruiter on Simpson, who had made unofficial trips to Ohio State, Iowa, Illinois and Purdue. But this weekend marked Simpson's third trip to West Lafayette.
"I think he was looking to get away from home a little," said Simpson's AAU coach, Mike Mullins of the Illinois Wolves. "He wanted to experience that 'getting away to college' while still being close enough so that his family could see him play."
A second Illinois Wolves player committed on Saturday as well, with Division II power Southern Indiana picking up a commitment from Freeport's Austin Davis, a 6-7 combo forward.