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Braves’ Maniscalco to transfer to Illinois

After three seasons on the Hilltop, senior Sam Maniscalco will transfer to the University of Illinois for his last season.

Maniscalco is transferring from Bradley to play for the Illini as well as to pursue a graduate degree in sports management, something Bradley doesn’t offer.

“It presents a good opportunity, both academically and athletically,” he said. “It’s been an amazing four years here but it’s time for me to move on.”

This decision came days after the release of coach Jim Les from the basketball program.

“I wish I would have had the opportunity to make this decision with him still here and that’s all I’m going to say,” Maniscalco said.

As a beloved figure in Bradley basketball, Maniscalco was a revered by the fans who affectionately called him “Sammy.”

“The [fans] I’ve heard from have been great,” Maniscalco said.  “They’ve been great for four years, since I’ve been here and I couldn’t ask for any better fans. I’m a Brave at heart.”

The Braves will look to move on without Maniscalco and Les, but that doesn’t detract from their abilities on the court in Maniscalco’s eyes.

“I think they’ll be good,” he said.  “They’ve got a great group of guys here. My teammates are friends I’ve made for life and I’ll continue to be supportive.  I have nothing but good memories here.”

With Illini senior Demetri McCamey graduating, a void opened up in U of I’s backcourt. Even with a top recruiting class coming in, Maniscalco is expected to play significant minutes for coach Bruce Weber.

“I’m just going to go and play like I have for the last three years here,” Maniscalco said. “Help them win and be successful.”

With Peoria in his rearview mirror, Maniscalco has fond memories of Bradley.

“It’s been great and nothing short of spectacular,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed everyone I’ve come in contact with.  I’ve enjoyed the basketball side of things [and] I’ve enjoyed the school side of things. Everyone’s been great.”

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