If history is any influence, it could be a big summer for Alex Illikainen.
The power forward, who is ranked 84th nationally in the 2015 class, according to rivals.com, already has a notable list of interested programs knocking on his door. But tucked up in Grand Rapids, Illikainen probably loses some of the accidental exposure from which recruits closer to the metro benefit.
This AAU season, then, could act as a final coming out party for Illikainen, who will be competing in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball circuit (EYBL) with Howard Pulley for the first time. The summer before a recruit's senior season often proves to be a critical one. The 6-9 Minnesotan certainly has plenty of attention already. But the next few months could bring a second wind.
"It seems to happen, so hopefully it does," Illikainen said. "But I'm definitely comfortable with where I'm at. If no one else jumps in, I can definitely make a decision and be happy with it."
Currently, schools that have offered include Minnesota, California, Creighton, Indiana, Iowa State, Nebraska, Oregon and Providence.
Gold in the Barn: startribune.com/gophers