Amani Hansberry wants to leave his “mark” on the Mount St. Joseph basketball team. He got off to an impressive start last winter, and has a clear mind heading into his senior season.
The 6-foot-8 center/forward recently announced his commitment to the University of Illinois. Hansberry pledged to the Fighting Illini over Auburn, Miami, Penn State and Virginia Tech.
“I wanted to make a decision before the start of my senior year. I just want to be a high school kid,” Hansberry about the timing of his announcement. “The process was pretty long.”
“The process” started before his freshman year at St. John’s College (D.C.) with a verbal offer from Rhode Island. In the end, Hansberry, who plays for the Team Durant AAU program, connected with Illinois of the Big 10 Conference, especially assistant coach Chester Frazier.
Frazier, a former standout guard at Lake Clifton and Illinois, has recruited Hansberry since he was a Virginia Tech assistant (2019-2021).
“It’s a different vibe…it’s more of a little brother, big brother-type thing. He tells me the truth. He wants to see me get better,” said Hansberry. “What really mattered is where I felt at home. Illinois felt like the place I could go and thrive.”
Hansberry can sign a scholarship letter with Illinois during the early National Letter of Intent period, Nov. 9-16.
“He put himself in position to have great options,” said Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey. “They’re getting a tremendous player, high-character young man. His level of consistency is amazing. He brings a lot of different things to the table that impacts winning.”
Hansberry had a seismic effect on the Gaels last season after transferring from St. John’s, a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference program. He averaged 20.3 points, 13.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Gaels (32-7 last season), who won the MIAA A Conference and Baltimore Catholic League Tournament championships.
Clatchey said Hansberry, VSN’s Boys Basketball Player of the Year, seamlessly blended in, on and off the court at the Southwest Baltimore school.
“He wasn’t about himself and we had a good team, but he took us to a whole other level,” said Clatchey.
Hansberry’s combination of size and skill has him ranked among the Top 75 in the Class of 2023 by ESPN and 247Sports. 247Sports has Hansberry as the No. 1 player in Maryland.
Since he first started playing basketball, Hansberry has focused “on being able to do everything.”
“I didn’t really know how tall I was going to be. My dad is 6-2 and my mom is 5-9,” said Hansberry. “Now, I have the confidence to take it to the next level.”
Hansberry is counting the days until the start of his senior campaign. He’ll be the headliner of a solid returning cast looking to repeat as MIAA A and BCL champions.
“Expectations come every day in practice. We’re preparing to play at the highest level,” said Hansberry. “I want to leave my mark on the program and keep getting better…I got so much more potential I have to unleash.”