Sam McLaurin transferring to Illini

Updated: May 3, 2012, 3:02 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

Coastal Carolina forward Sam McLaurin announced Thursday that he is transferring to Illinois for his senior season, and he later apologized for the language he used in making the announcement.

McLaurin tweeted in the early morning hours of Thursday: "F--- it im going to Illinois #illinination"

He tweeted at about 1:15 ET: "Hey everyone sorry about my language last night. I was just extremely excited to be apart of #illinination"

The 6-foot-8, 230-pound power forward averaged 10 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks during his junior year at Coastal Carolina.

He suffered a season-ending knee injury after six games his freshman season and was given a medical redshirt. He will graduate Saturday from Coastal Carolina and will be eligible immediately at Illinois because he will pursue a graduate degree unavailable at his former school.

McLaurin chose the Illini over Baylor, Georgia Tech, SMU and Virginia, among others.

"It was everything I was looking for in a school as far as the academic side and basketball opportunity," McLaurin said by phone Thursday. "I get a chance to play at a high level. I could have gotten that at any school as well, but it seemed like the right fit.

"Coach (John) Groce was just real with me from the start. I can't ask for anything more. He's a first-year coach, it's a first-year staff, everybody will be on the journey for the first time together. I think it will be fun."

McLaurin is expected to give the Illini depth in their frontcourt. They became lean in that area when sophomore center Meyers Leonard decided to enter the NBA draft.

McLaurin likely will share minutes with freshmen Nnanna Egwu, Ibby Djimde and Mike Shaw, and junior Tyler Griffey.

"I just want to bring leadership in the frontcourt," McLaurin said. "They got one of the best backcourts in the country.

"The goal is to have a double-double. I try to improve every year. I had success doing that at Coastal Carolina. I can't see why I can't do that here. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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