Boys Basketball: Bartlett’s Lance Whitaker commits to UIC

Story Image Bartlett senior Lance Whitaker (right) recently committed to play college basketball at Illinois-Chicago. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media

Updated: September 24, 2012 11:18PM

What a difference a year makes.

One year ago at this time Lance Whitaker was in the early stages of his recovery from knee surgery after tearing an ACL in the summer prior to his junior season.

Now the 6-5 Bartlett standout is not only back at full strength, but he also has his college decision out of the way after committing to Illinois-Chicago last Friday.

“I was really comfortable with the coaching staff (at UIC) and it was the best decision for me and my family,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker led the Hawks with 16.5 points to go along with 6.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals as a sophomore in his second varsity season. He then sat out his entire junior year after tearing an ACL in July 2011 while playing with the Illinois Wolves AAU team.

The injury didn’t keep Whitaker from attracting attention from college coaches. He also considered offers from Valparaiso, Boston University and California-Davis before choosing the Flames.

“This definitely takes a lot of the stress off,” Whitaker said. “I’m looking forward to my senior season. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Whitaker commits to a UIC team that finished 8-22 last season under first-year coach Howard Moore. South Elgin graduate Sammy Sutter is going into his sophomore season with the Flames and is one of several players on the Horizon League team’s roster from the Chicago area.

For Whitaker, the road to recovery ended when he returned to action with the Wolves last spring. He continued to play with the Wolves and Bartlett throughout the summer, offering further proof to recruiters that the knee injury was no longer an issue.

“The credit goes to Lance for being diligent in his recovery and working hard to get his game back,” Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said.

Adds Whitaker: “I definitely feel like I’ve gained my strength back. I’m 100 percent and ready to play.”

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