Antigua giving Illini recruiting a boost


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — John Wall, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins — that’s the start of a pretty good NBA All-Star lineup.

And they’re all guys new Illinois assistant coach Orlando Antigua helped recruit to Kentucky.

“I don’t know if those are my recruiting wins, they were the programs that I was a part of, and I was a small part of those teams,” Antigua said. “That’s kind of what we want to do it here. When we recruit, we’re going to recruit as a family and when we get a kid, the University of Illinois is the one that wins.”

Known around the country as one of the best recruiters, Brad Underwood was quick to jump at the opportunity to bring that to Champaign after Antigua was fired by South Florida in January.

“I get the call and I’m like ‘Wow, wait a minute,'” Antigua said. “Honestly I wasn’t sure if I was going to try to jump back in to coaching right now. I was enjoying my family, enjoying playing golf in a little bit of sun. But I thought the combination of him being here, what this program has meant, the rich tradition and the history that this program has had, I got a little excited about it, and wanted to be a part of it.”

With Antigua’s recruiting success, also comes baggage. USF is still being investigated by the NCAA for possible academic fraud during Antigua’s time in Tampa. His brother, Oliver, resigned from his position on Orlando’s staff last year amid allegations.

Underwood said he relied on Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman for guidance during the hiring process.

“I know Orlando as a person, I know what he stands for, I know his background and I think once that Josh vetted that and we dove into that I was extremely confident in what his situation was,” Underwood said.

While the Illini wait for those findings, Antigua is hard out on the recruiting trail dropping names like Nerlens Noel and Julius Randle.

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