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May 14, 2013
Bears prowl the Midwest
Massachusetts, Florida, and now Minnesota's Alex Illikainen.
Just days after New England prepster Roger Moute a Bidias joined Sunshine Stater Sam Singer in rounding-out California's 2013 recruiting class, the Golden Bears went hunting for another out-of-state prospect.
"I actually just got off the phone with Coach Gregg Gottlieb," Illikainen told GoldenBearReport Monday evening. "He sounds like a great guy."
A 6-9 forward out of Grand Rapids, Illikainen offers the rare pairing of power and finesse. He can back his man down, face-up and beat defenders off the edge, or initiate contact and elevate for the midrange jumper.
"I definitely like to run up and down the court and shoot," said the 4-Star prospect. "But I like to get into the paint and work down low, too."
Illikainen's versatility hasn't gone unnoticed, and Oregon, Minnesota, Creighton and Nebraska have all offered the Midwesterner.
"Minnesota was definitely one of the first schools to get involved," noted Illikainen. "Now that Tubby Smith and his staff are gone, I'm just starting to talk to the new coaches and build relationships with them."
Of course, the Bears are making their own pitch, and the sought-after big man likes what he's hearing, so far.
"This was my first time talking to him (Gottlieb)," remarked Illikainen. "He told me about the school and how they coach. I like that they use their big guys to play to their strengths. I watched Cal play in the tournament and know that they've been doing great in their league It's a very prestigious school: great academically."
Only a sophomore, and with a busy AAU schedule and possible USA Basketball tryout scheduled for June, Illikainen hasn't begun to contemplate any visit.
"We were just trying to get to know one another [on Monday]," he acknowledged.
Still, the Bears have to feel good about their chances.
"Out there in California, that's kind of the place to be, so it would be very cool."