CHAMPAIGN — The lightning fast relationship between Samba Kane and University of Illinois basketball has played out like love at first sight.
In a matter of weeks, Illinois assistant coaches made two visits to view the 6-foot-11, 220-pounder in Florida, a scholarship offer was extended a week ago and on Friday, Kane used his Twitter account to announce he’ll be wearing orange and blue next season.
“First of all, I want to thank God and my mom for always supporting me during the process. I also wanna thank the Illinois staff for giving me this great opportunity. Special thanks to Flying Star and Florida Prep. I’m blessed to announce that I decided to commit to ILLINOIS.”
Kane played at the Flying Star Academy in Senegal, which has turned out a number of players to the United States. Among them is 7-6 Tacko Fall of Central Florida, one of the top shot blockers in America.
Kane left Flying Star two years ago and spent a year in Colorado before moving to Melborne, Fla., where he played this past season at Florida Preparatory Academy.
Within recruiting circles, he is more of a mystery than a known commodity. That said, he already had a scholarship offer from Rutgers and a number of other schools, including Georgetown and Pittsburgh, were reportedly showing interest.
First Illini assistant coach Orlando Antigua went to Florida to watch him. Then Chin Coleman followed up and when both gave coach Brad Underwood a thumbs-up, a scholarship offer was extended.
Illinois, needing size and a defensive presence around the basket, quickly arranged a campus visit and on Friday, Kane decided Illinois would be his college destination.
Reports on him indicate he’ll have a chance to make an immediate impact on the defensive end. But his game tapes show a lean athlete who runs the floor and can score with either hand around the basket.
Illinois also is hosting 4-star wing player Tevian Jones of Culver City, Calif., this weekend. He’s being recruited by a number of schools and has a close relationship with Ayo Dosunmu, the 5-star guard from Chicago Morgan Park who will be at Illinois next season.
Dosunmu, Kane and 6-5 Alan Griffin now make up a three-player recruiting class for 2018 and Kane’s commitment comes three days after freshman Mark Smith announced he would be transferring.