Illinois to play series of games in Italy

Illinois men's basketball team will travel to Italy for a series of games in August, the school announced on Wednesday.

The Illini will hold 10 practices before departing for Italy on Aug. 10. They are expected to play four to five Italian professional teams and visit Como, Florence, Rome and Venice before returning on Aug. 20.

"We are excited about taking our team to Italy in August," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said in a statement. "It's a great opportunity for us to come together as a team and learn more about each other. With six new players joining the roster, we feel it's extremely important for us to take advantage of this trip heading into next season."

The NCAA allows teams to travel internationally once every four years.

The Illini graduated four starters and lost freshman Jereme Richmond to the NBA draft from last year's NCAA tournament team. They will return sophomore guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson, the team's fourth and fifth leading scorers, and welcome six newcomers.

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.