By Joe Henricksen

Maniscalco heading to Illinois

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By Joe Henricksen

Former Bradley and St. Patrick star Sam Maniscalco may not be able to help coach Bruce Weber and Illinois this Friday in its first-round NCAA Tournament game against UNLV, but the 6-0 point guard will be a huge addition for the 2011-2012 season.

Maniscalco made it official today, announcing he will be transferring to Illinois to complete his college eligibility as a senior next season for the Fighting Illini. After spending time on the Illinois campus Monday, Maniscalco sat down and discussed all that Illinois had to offer--on the floor and academically towards his graduate degree--and pulled the trigger Tuesday afternoon.

"I am very excited," Maniscalco said. "Illinois offers a lot for me both athletically and academically as far as the graduate programs available to me. I think I can fit in well there and it seemed like a natural fit."

Weber and assistant coach Jerrance Howard made a very favorable impression on the former Bradley star in this short "recruiting" process, which included the visit to Champaign on Monday. Howard, who will have recruited a whopping six of next year's newcomers to campus, hit it off with Maniscalco and never left his side while on campus.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for coach Weber," said Maniscalco. "Illinois really does it the right way. They were honest, straightforward and straight up with me during this process. I felt very comfortable with both coach Weber and coach Howard."

With senior Demetri McCamey and his 34 minutes a game at point guard moving on after this season, Maniscalco becomes a key piece for Weber's Fighting Illini going forward. Last season as a junior, Maniscalco averaged 13 points and over four assists a game while knocking down 47 three-pointers on the year. He was a second-team all-Missouri Valley performer, a MVC all-tournament selection and was the conference's Player of the Week three times.

This season, injuries cut his senior year short as he played in just six games. When the season was complete, Bradley coach Jim Les was fired and Maniscalco decided to take advantage of an opportunity to transfer and be immediately eligible next season due to a graduate-student waiver rule.

Maniscalco did enjoy his time at Bradley and appreciates all the basketball program and university gave him during his four years on campus.

"I do want to thank Bradley for the four years I had there," says Maniscalco. "Without the people there and the fans, I wouldn't be who I am today or where I am today."

But with Maniscalco, it's more than just the numbers. While he's a high-level mid-major player who is transferring up to the high-major level, he's an ideal fit for what Illinois needs and what he has to offer. Maniscalco's overall game has grown leaps and bounds since arriving in Peoria as a freshman.

He's physically and mentally strong. He's as tough as they come, competes at an extremely high level and plays to win. Maniscalco, who leaves it all on the floor each night out, will run a team but also has an ability to score from the point guard position with his perimeter shooting. And most importantly, he has evolved into the type of point guard who will raise the level of play of his teammates.

Now Illinois will have a talented and veteran presence at point guard next season, along with a promising young player in Tracy Abrams of Mt. Carmel, who will arrive next fall as a freshman. This will be an ideal combination for Weber as he fills the 40 minutes at point guard.

Another positive is that Maniscalco will be able to be on campus this summer, work out with the team and be a part of an overseas team trip to Europe in August.

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8 Comments

Now that is using the firing of one's coach to one's advantage, and then Michael Orris will take this spot the following season!
Jerrance Howard pulls another rabbit out of the hat!

This is a great pickup for the Fighting Illini, Sam will be a Grad-Student, and he brings character with him to the team, very nice pickup, an instate talent, this is what Mississippi did in football this past season, and so did Syracuse, with the youngster from Duke, this is a great move!
Look for more of this type of activity to happen in the future at more colleges!

If Sam and Adams are your PGs next year, Weber will get fired when the season is over.

Anonymous: If someone named Adams starts at PG next year over Abrams or Maniscalco you may get your wish.

Bruce, great pickup. The recruiting roll continues! Guenther, might be time for an extension for the guy on the hottest recruiting run we may have ever seen in Champaign.

Come on, Orris isn't 1/4 the guard Tracy is, or will ever be. You always pump up Crete and then they let us down. And always say how great there players are. They just can't get downstate. South of Chicago basketball is over rated. Always pump it up, never produce downstate.

You keep comparing apples to oranges, Michael Orris will become another part of the puzzle, I don't know if he will start, I don't know his role, but he brings a great basketball attitude to the Fighting Illini, he competes very well, will he get better, no doubt about that, will he be in the mix as a player, yes he will, Michael Orris is a good basketball player, stop comparing him to other player's who are going to play with him, it doesn't hold water!
Bottom-line, Michael Orris is being recruited by Illinois!

Don't forget that Crete was a 3A school a year ago, they made great strides this season, they won their conference, they made it to the championship of the McDipper Tourney, and they made it to the super-sectional, Rome wasn't built in a day, but Crete is showing they are a program to be dealt with in the future!
Coach Ryndak deserves Coach of the Year recognition!

As a Pats guy, I can't tell you how enjoyable it was to watch Sam's career at St. Pat's. The Pats-Joes games when Sam was there were unforgetable. Turner and McCamey vs. Maniscalco. Great pickup for the Illini. I wish you the best of luck Sammy!

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on March 15, 2011 4:08 PM.

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