Alex Illikainen, a 6-foot-8, 192-pound freshman from Grand Rapids, who received a scholarship offer in April from Minnesota, is considered the top player in the state in the Class of 2015.
Alex Illikainen, a 6-foot-8, 192-pound freshman from Grand Rapids, who
received a scholarship offer in April from Minnesota, is considered the
top player in the state in the Class of 2015. Illikainen helped lead
Grand Rapids to the Class AAA state boy’s basketball tournament for the
second straight year.
Illikainen shined this past weekend at the North Star Hoops Report
state tournament as he helped lead the Cyclones AAU program won the
15-and-under title, their fourth of the spring.
Illikainen will be attending the Wisconsin Badger Invite Camp this
week. The Cyclones will compete at a team camp at Nebraska-Omaha and he
will make an unofficial visit to Creighton and Nebraska June 21-24.
Both schools have extended a scholarship offer to the ThunderHawks big
man. The Cyclones will be busy in July as they play in the Mullen High
Profile Tournament in St. Louis (July 13-15), Best Buy Summer Classic
at Bloomington Jefferson (July 19-22) and Fab 48 in Las Vegas (July
GopherHole.com recemtly caught up with Illikainen to learn the latest
on his recruitment and his spring play.
GopherHole: How pleased are you with how well your team is playing this
Alex Illikainen: We are playing really good. Some good teams that we
have been playing. We have been executing. All of our players are
playing well. It is just great to have a really great team. We won our
first three tournaments, the Comets Shootout, Chicago and one in the
Cities and we lost to Pump N run in the title game in Des Moines. That
was a really good tournament also.
GopherHole: You played up in the 16-and-under division in the Minnesota
Fury Shootout. Do you like playing against a little bit bigger and
Alex Illikainen: Yes. I really wanted to play in the 16U tournament. It
is good to play some of these teams. They are a lot bigger and better.
We can play with those guys and it is a lot of fun.
GopherHole: You had 43 points and supposedly 30 rebounds in a game in
Iowa. That is pretty impressive.
Alex Illikainen: I know the points are right, but I’m not sure about
the boards. They just kept on feeding me the ball. (Point guard) Kobe
(Critchley) did a great job of feeding me the ball. He had 17 assists.
GopherHole: What things have you been really working on to continue to
improve yourself as a player?
Alex Illikainen: Definitely, my outside play. I’m not the tallest, so I
have been shooting a lot, dribbling, passing, looking over the floor
and running a bit.
GopherHole: You have five offers right now from Minnesota, Iowa State,
Nebraska, Northern Iowa and Creighton. That has to make you feel pretty
Alex Illikainen: Yes, it is fun. It is great. I am really excited to meet all the guys. It is really fun.
GopherHole: What other schools are you hearing from?
Alex Illikainen: A little bit from Wisconsin.
GopherHole: Did you notice a lot of coaches during that two-week open
Alex Illikainen: There was a couple there. Minnesota has been to a lot
of my games.
GopherHole: Do you try to not notice them or is it hard to not know
that they are there?
Alex Illikainen: It is hard not to notice, but I try to just focus on the game and take care of what needs to be done.
GopherHole: Are you going to try to make some visits to colleges this summer? I know that it is still so early being only a freshman.
Alex Illikainen: We have tournaments all around, so we are going to try
to take advantage of us going to tournaments and try to get to some
GopherHole: When you played in Iowa the other week, you stopped by
Northern Iowa and Iowa State. Was that when Iowa State offered you or
had they offered you before?
Alex Illikainen: They had offered me before.
GopherHole: What were those campuses like?
Alex Illikainen: They were great. We went to UNI first. They were great people and great coaches. Good city. It was awesome. Then we made it over to Iowa State. It was really fun there. It was a good trip.