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Illinois AD Josh Whitman: Final stage of State Farm Center renovations on schedule, budget

Good morning. Welcome to the Orange Minute for Wednesday, July 13.

Photo credit: Trevor Vallese

Remember Illinois' dreadful Springfield games last year? Yeah -- the ones where the 'home court' advantage was non-existent? Actually let's just forget they ever happened. Luckily, the Fighting Illini won't be in danger of another relocation this Fall (not that they were, mind you). Josh Whitman recently told The News-Gazette that the final stage of renovations at State Farm Center is on schedule for completion ahead of the season.

Whitman stated that everything is, "on time, schedule, and budget" while reiterating that the completed version of the venue will be, "one of the best in college basketball." The last phase of the three-year project encompasses audio and visual overhauls, as well as other aspects of the in-game experience. Cosmetic changes have also been addressed since the conclusion of the 2015-16 season.

So, although this was expected, Whitman's comments are definitely some more good news for the program. I can't wait to watch a game after all the other upgrades are made.

Today's poll question: Once construction at State Farm Center is finished, what should Josh Whitman's next project be? Make sure to cast your vote, and let us know what you think in the comments.

Illinois Fighting Illini Links

Hardy Nickerson Jr. named to 2016 Butkus Award Watch List (TCR)

The newest member of the program was named to the 2016 Butkus Award Watch List along with 50 of college football's other top linebackers. The California transfer was one of 10 players from the Big Ten to be mentioned.

Thomas Pieters qualifies for 2016 Olympics (Fighting Illini Athletics)

Former Illini golf standout Thomas Pieters has been named to the field for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Pieters is one of two players to represent Belgium, and he is the only Illini in the field.

Malcolm Hill is taking skills to new level (STL Post-Dispatch)

"He is jumping higher than he's ever jumped. His body fat is lower than ever," [Adam] Fletcher said. "And he's not done. We're trying to push him to get to that 38, 39-inch vertical level which would eliminate any question about that at the (NBA) level."

John Groce hits recruiting jackpot with Jeremiah Tilmon (TCR)

Nabbing the commitment of Tilmon is gargantuan for Groce, who has made a habit of getting the Illini into the final selections of many top-rated recruits, only to see the recruits go elsewhere. Jalen Brunson picked Villanova. Cliff Alexander picked Kansas. Elijah Thomas picked Texas A&M. But Tilmon picked Illinois.