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Illinois Adds In-State Center To Roster

The big man is a late addition to the 2019 class.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois announced on Tuesday this week that in-state big man Jermaine Hamlin committed to the university and planned to enroll immediately and be eligible for the upcoming season.

The 6-foot-10 Lincoln, IL native excelled on the defensive end for Bradley Beal Elite on the EYBL circuit this summer and caught the eye of Brad Underwood and his staff. Below is a quote from coach Underwood on the signing.

“Jermaine is a young man who we’ve followed the last two years, and we are excited about the growth and development he has shown during that time,” Brad Underwood said in a statement.

“He was one of the outstanding shot blockers and defenders on the EYBL circuit this summer, and we feel he can really impact the game on the defensive side of the floor. He has the desire to be a great player and his work ethic shows with the improvements he’s made offensively. He has vastly improved his back-to-the-basket game and has good touch shooting it out to the mid-range. We feel good about the addition of Jermaine to our frontcourt and the promising future he has ahead of him.”

Take a look at some of his highlights from his high school career.

Adding better interior defense has been a focus of the Illini on the recruiting trail as of late. In addition to the Hamlin signing, Illinois also inked a letter of intent for a defensive stopper and top-50 overall player Kofi Cockburn in the 2019 class as well.

During his high school season, Hamlin averaged 15 and 8 and earned third-team All-State honors by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and honorable mention All-State accolades by the Associated Press. He helped lead the Railers to a 27-5 record, including an appearance in the IHSA Class 3A Sectional title game and Apollo Conference championship, where he received first-team all-league recognition.

Hamlin’s commitment raises an interesting situation with another 2019 commit. Center Bernard Kouma has not cleared the NCAA’s eligibility process, and his status remains up in the air. With the additions of Hamlin, D-III transfer Austin Hutcherson, and Holy Cross transfer Jacob Grandison that would put Illinois at the scholarship limit. No official word out of Illinois is available at this time.

Still, this is a nice story and a nice pick up for the Illini. If Hamlin is able to make meaningful contributions this season, that could be a good sign for the Illini this season.