Updated: Sep 8, 2022
The 2022-2023 college basketball season is slowly coming upon us, and that means some teams are being blown out of proportion. Here is one team that I think fans of college basketball need to tone down on.
The incoming roster for Illinois this year is heavily OVERRATED. Compared to the previous few years, there is no star to rely on when times get tough. They had Ayo Dosunmu (2020-2021) and Kofi Cockburn (2021-2022) with players returning that were able to support them. This year, the amount of returning production is minimal. Only three players returning played more than eight minutes a game: Coleman Hawkins (19.0), Luke Goode (8.9), and RJ Melendez (8.5).
Coach Underwood has made great strides to get back to being a top four seed, but it just won’t be enough. Terrence Shannon Jr. is a great player, but he is no first option for a team that wants to get back to the same levels of success within the past few years. Matthew Mayer, another quality player, is also more of a second or third option for a high seed. Dain Dainja, a transfer from Baylor, is also going to have to be a massive factor for Underwood this year as Cockburn heads off to the NBA. Five freshmen will also be implemented into the roster this year, but there is no telling if any will have a massive impact for the Fighting Illini.
Another very eye-opening flaw is the point guard spot. Trent Frazier, Alfonso Plummer, and Da'Monte Williams have all graduated from the program. Andre Curbelo has transferred to St. John's. This leaves the job open for Skyy Clark, an extremely talented four star freshman. While Clark is talented, he is once again a freshman having to fill in the shoes of Trent Frazier. Point guard play in March is one the most vital pieces of success, and it will take Clark time to adjust to college level of play.