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Good Morning, Illini Nation: UI legacy picks Big Ten rival

Jun. 11—Phoenix Gill was an intriguing prospect on Illinois' recruiting board in the Class of 2025. Partly, of course, because of his last name. Phoenix is the oldest son of former Illini Kendall Gill, who parlayed his time in Champaign with the Flyin' Illini into a 15-year NBA career.

Illinois was the first team to offer Phoenix in June 2022. His next offer didn't come for a full year, with Toledo, Valparaiso, Northwestern and Iowa State getting involved last summer. Stanford joined the mix in September 2023.

The Illini's pursuit had waned some in the last year, though, and Phoenix committed to Northwestern (his mom Wendy's alma mater) on Monday. Illinois' offer was reasonable and probably necessary for a legacy that is a high-major player, but Brad Underwood and Co.'s recruiting priorities have shifted a bit. Positional size is basically a prerequisite at this point, and Phoenix is a 6-foot-2 combo guard.

So he'll land in Evanston instead. Worst case scenario? The younger Gill goes full Brian Cardinal and never loses to the Illini.

Phoenix averaged 17.1 points, six rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.8 steals last season for St. Ignatius. The Wolfpack finished 16-15 and didn't reach the state tournament for the first time since it returned to Champaign in 2022.

And unlike previous years where he opted not to play AAU hoops, Phoenix played this spring on the Nike EYBL circuit. After playing sparingly with MoKan Elite, he moved to Mac Irvin Fire and averaged 13.6 points in eight games.