With Brad Underwood yet to make it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament with the Illinois Fighting Illini, a fire is burning within the program.
As is tradition, CBB Review is again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. Each day, we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.
In the first year since the Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn years Illinois has a ton of question marks however, they ended up making the tournament with a 20-13 record before getting knocked out by Arkansas.
The Fighting Illini look to bounce back this season returning two of their stars from the past season in pre-season all-Big Ten shooting guard Terrance Shannon Jr. and big man Coleman Hawkins who can do it all for Illinois.
Illinois has five fifth-year seniors on their squad including Southern Illinois and all MVC transfer Marcus Domask who looks to add more shooting and defense to this Illinois squad.
Illinois will have former forward and now point guard Ty Rodgers as their starting 1 for the season. The former double-double machine will be running the offense.
Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.
Head coach: Brad Underwood (11th season, 7th at Illinois)
2022-23 record: 20-13 (11-9)
2023 postseason finish: Lost to Arkansas, 73-63, in first round of NCAA Tournament
Notable departures: Matthew Mayer (Graduated), Jayden Epps (Transferred to Georgetown), Skyy Clark (Transferred to Louisville), RJ Melendez (Transferred to Georgia).
Notable non-conference games: vs. Marquette (Nov. 14), vs. FAU (Dec. 5, at MSG), at Tennessee (Dec. 9), vs. Missouri (Dec. 22)
PG: Ty Rodgers (6-6, 200, So.)
2022-23 stats: 3.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1 APG
SG: Terrance Shannon Jr. (6-6, 225, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 17.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.8 APG
SF: Quincy Guerrier (6-8, 220, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 9.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1 APG (Oregon)
PF: Coleman Hawkins (6-10, 225, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 9.9 PTS, 6.3 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.2 BPG, 1.1 SPG
C: Dain Dainja (6-9, 270, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 9.5 PTS, 5.5 RPG, 1.2 BPG
6: Luke Goode (6-7, 210, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 4.0 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 0.4 APG
7. Marcus Domask (6-6, 215, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 16.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.8 APG (Southern Illinois)
8. Justin Harmon (6-4, 180, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 14.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.3 SPG (Utah Valley)
9. Sincere Harris (6-4, 160, So.)
2022-23 stats: 3.7 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.9 APG
10. Nicollo Moretti (6-1, 160 Rs.-Fr.)
DNP in 2022-23
11. Amani Hansberry (6-8, 225 Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 67 rated recruit
12. Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn (6-1, 165, Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 134 rated recruit
Illinois Fighting Illini MVP: Terrance Shannon Jr.
Shannon comes back from declaring to the NBA draft and is ready to make a difference for the Illini and take the next step. The leading scorer for the Illini will come back and be the guy who will take the shots in the final minute of games.
Shannon will need to be a leader on the court along with the four other super seniors as he will be the lead scorer and lead off-ball player. He is easily one of the best-returning players in the country.
Illinois Fighting Illini make-or-break player: Ty Rodgers
Rodgers comes in at 6-6 and 200 pounds with a muscular build and is ready to bully the other point guards in the Big Ten. If Rodgers is able to lead the offense and provide more spacing to the floor then the Fighting Illini offense will be in a much better position.
Rodgers will need to mature fast coming into the lineup in his second year going up against some of the best players in the country and handling the ball nearly every possession.
Key analytics: Three-Point Percentage
With a 30.8% shooting percentage from three last season, Illinois ranked 355th in the nation, and that’s what killed their progress. With the team adding Quincy Guerrier, Marcus Domask, and Justin Harmon, that should help progress the shooting to be better than it was in 2022-23.
If Illinois is able to shoot in the top third of the country then they will have a much better chance at getting to the second weekend, since they wouldn’t need to rely only on paint scoring.
Illinois Fighting Illini 2023-24 projections
Projected conference finish: 4th in the Big Ten
Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Sweet 16 Exit