By Joe Henricksen
When Condric Sanders was hired as an assistant coach at Florida A&M a year ago, there was no question the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference school would instantly be involved with Illinois prospects. After spending two years as an assistant at Division II Lewis, one season at NAIA powerhouse Robert Morris and several years as an assistant at Highland Junior College, Sanders has long ties to Chicago and the state of Illinois.
Those ties are paying off as Florida A&M signed two Illinois products in the late signing period -- Crane star Willie Conner and Peoria Central big man Trey Kellum. Conner put together a brilliant season for coach Chris Head's Cougars, while Kellum helped lead Peoria to a Class 3A state championship.
Conner is a big-bodied 6-4 wing who had a breakout senior year, putting up 19 points a game for a team that finished 18-9 and won a regional championship. He scores in a variety of ways and brings strength and toughness. Conner is among the top 25 players in the Hoops Report's Class of 2012 player rankings. The 6-7 Kellum, who has a terrific body and plays with a motor, led the state champion Lions in scoring and rebounding with 12.6 points and 7 rebounds a game.
Sanders believes he has a lot to sell at Florida A&M, including a chance to play Division I basketball in Florida's state capital, Tallahassee, and in a new and beautiful 9,800-seat arena. Florida A&M reached the NCAA Tournament as recently as 2007 and also in 1999 and 2004.