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Grand Rapids' Illikainen to finish at New Hampshire prep school


Grand Rapids star Alex Illikainen is headed east.

The senior-to-be will play his final high school basketball season at a prep school in New Hampshire, the News Tribune confirmed Tuesday evening. The Grand Rapids Herald-Review first reported the story.

Illikainen, who was on the Thunderhawks’ varsity for four seasons, already had scored 2,000 points and grabbed 1,000 rebounds. An athletic, 6-foot-9 post, he averaged 25.6 points and 15.2 rebounds per game as a junior en route to becoming Grand Rapids’ all-time leader in both categories. Last winter, he complemented his explosive inside game by morphing into a dangerous 3-point shooter.

Almost as soon as the Thunderhawks were ousted from the Section 7AAA playoffs by Hermantown, Illikainen began contemplating his future.

“I knew right after the season ended that he was kind of mulling it over,” Grand Rapids coach Dan Elhard said Tuesday. “He was looking at his options, talking to people and weighing the pros and cons.”

Scholarship offers from NCAA Division I universities have continued to roll in for Illikainen, one of the most highly sought-after recruits in the Class of 2015. The latest offer came from Boston College, while others include Minnesota, Indiana, Creighton and Oregon.

Elhard said the impetus for Illikainen’s decision was a desire to play with and against the highest level of competition possible. Illikainen’s new school, Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., has become a launching pad for successful college and professional careers.

Still, the coach admitted to a certain level of disappointment.

“He’s been such a big part of the program, and we certainly wanted him to stay,” Elhard said. “I guess maybe I’m kind of old-school, but playing for your hometown and your home school was a big deal a generation ago. The possibility he had of setting some all-time marks here in Minnesota high school basketball history was something that I thought was kind of tough to walk away from.”

Illikainen couldn’t be reached for comment.

  • Illikainen’s sister, Molly Illikainen, has committed to transferring from Providence to St. Cloud State, where she will continue her hockey career with the Huskies and new coach Eric Rud. Molly Illikainen, the 2012 News Tribune player of the year and a Ms. Hockey finalist while at Grand Rapids, was one of two Providence players to transfer to St. Cloud, joining Lexi Slattery. Illikainen had six goals and 12 assists for 18 points for the Friars last season.


East’s Turner named all-state

Duluth East senior Jake Turner was named to the Minnesota Baseball Coaches Association All-State team Tuesday. Turner went 6-2 on the mound with a 1.17 ERA for the Greyhounds, who narrowly missed qualifying for the state tournament.

The right-hander and future member of the St. Scholastica Saints threw a no-hitter and four two-hitters this spring.