2024-25 Big Ten offseason at a glance: Illinois Fighting Illini

  • 05/22/2024 8:01 am in

Welcome to “Big Ten offseason at a glance,” a team-by-team look at the conference at the start of the summer. We’ll examine roster movement for each Big Ten roster and give an early outlook for each Big Ten program for the 2024-25 season.

Previously: Penn State, Minnesota

Today: Illinois (29-9 overall in 2023-24, 14-6 in Big Ten play)

After advancing to the Elite Eight last season, Illinois is currently just No. 61 in Bart Torvik’s preseason ratings for the 2024-25 season. Brad Underwood is entering his eighth season in Champaign.

Illinois roster movement

Players returning with eligibility remaining: Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn, Ty Rodgers

Players departing due to exhausted eligibility: Marcus Domask, Terrence Shannon Jr., Justin Harmon, Quincy Guerrier

Players who departed via the transfer portal: Luke Goode (to Indiana), Amani Hansberry (to West Virginia), Sencire Harris (to West Virginia), Dain Dainja (to Memphis), Niccolo Moretti (to Florida Atlantic), Coleman Hawkins (also testing NBA draft)

Players arriving via the transfer portal: Carey Booth (from Notre Dame), Kylan Boswell (from Arizona), Tre White (from Louisville), Jake Davis (from Mercer), Ben Humrichous (from Evansville)

Players arriving via high school: Morez Johnson (247Composite top 30), Jason Jaktys, Tomislav Ivisic

Illinois has three scholarships remaining for next season, which is the most of any Big Ten team. The Fighting Illini should be looking to add wing and guard depth to the roster before the fall semester begins.

What to like about Illinois

Brad Underwood is one of the top coaches in the Big Ten and he typically has his team near the top of the Big Ten each season.

From a talent perspective, there are pieces on the roster capable of producing and raising their production level. Rodgers was a starter on last season’s Elite Eight team. Gibbs-Lawhorn was a highly touted recruit who played rotation minutes as a freshman. Boswell, a Champaign native, was a five-star recruit out of high school who should be ready to leap forward. White should benefit from a change of scenery. And Humrichous was one of the top shooters in the transfer portal. Illinois also welcomes a top 30 player nationally in Johnson, a 6-foot-9 center who could be the day-one starter at the five.

What to question with Illinois

There’s a ton of production to replace. Shannon Jr., who missed some time last season with legal troubles but returned to help lead Illinois to the Big Ten tournament title and the Elite Eight, is gone. He was arguably the best player in the conference not named Zach Edey.

That’s not to mention the departures of Goode, Harris, Dainja and Hawkins, all valuable pieces on last season’s squad who finished in the top ten of KenPom.

With three roster spots still open, Illinois is betting on many things going right next season for players who have yet to prove themselves as starters at the highest level of college basketball.

Illinois outlook for the 2024-25 season

Here is the Illinois Big Ten schedule for next season:

Home: Iowa, Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, UCLA, USC
Away: Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, Rutgers, Washington
Home/Away: Michigan State, Northwestern, Wisconsin

For several reasons, Illinois’s third-lowest rating of any Big Ten team in Torvik’s rankings for next season seems too low. Underwood is arguably the third-best coach in the conference and has reached the NCAA tournament in four straight seasons.

While some of the roster’s talent is unproven, the pieces are there for a team that finishes in the top six or seven in the conference. Boswell and Rodgers should be a very good backcourt combo. White will be looking to regain the form he exhibited as a freshman at USC. Humrichous should immediately be one of the top shooters in the league. The frontcourt combo of Johnson and Ivisic will be young but talented.

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