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Champaign Dreams

University of Illinois State Farm Center via

 Volume 2 Issue 2 April 25, 2024 

The Illini and the Transfer Portal comings and goings!

 The success of 2024

Brad Underwood by Jacob Slabosz via the Daily Illini

Fresh off a BIG Ten tournament Championship, getting a No4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, reaching the Elite Eight, and ranked No.6 in the country in the end-of-the-year polls. Brad Underwood’s hardcourt warriors had one of the best seasons in recent Illini memory.

But with a massive loss of players due to graduation, the NBA, and the black hole known as the transfer portal how does Coach Underwood plan on keeping them moving onward and upward?

Massive losses

Quincy Guerrier, Justin Harmon, and Terrance Shannon Jr. have all used their eligibility. Marcus Domask applied for a waiver due to being injured during the 2020 season. that was denied so he has declared for the NBA draft. Coleman Hawkins has a 5th year but has elected to move on to the NBA. Then the ugly side of the transfer portal is showing its ugly head in the defections of Seniors Dain Dainjia and Luke Goode, Redshirt Sophomore Sincer Harris, and Freshman Amari Hansberry. Also, you have prize 4-star recruit Jase Butler who de-committed. And just announced Monday PG Niccolo Moretti all have entered the portal

And if that were not enough, Assistant Coach Chester Fraizer is leaving for a similar job at West Virginia University. ( Harris and Hansberry will join Fraizer at WVU).

So now Underwood is trying to replace 4/5 of his starting lineup, 4 key bench spots, and an Assistant Coach. With 90.2% of scoring now gone what is left to pick up the slack? Lone remaining staJunior Guard/Forward Ty Rodgers and Sophomore guard Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn are the players left on scholarship from last season's team.

So what help is coming in on a White Horse?

The Illini have incoming Freshmen Morez Johnson Jr. 6-9 235lbs rated number 26 in the nation, he was recently named the Chicago Sun-Times player of the year. They also have another frontcourt piece in Jaason Jakstys 6-10 205lbs A project in the works who will likely redshirt

Major help will have to come via the Transfer Portal. The Illini have done well the last few years with the portal, bringing in names like Terrance Shannon JR, Dain Dainjia, Alphonzo Plummer, and the 2023-24 crop of "old men".


So here are the new faces picked up in the portal so far

Tre White, 6-7 205lbs from USC

He has 62 NCAA games under his belt starting in 55 of them. (29 as a true Freshman for USC). While he shoots well overall(46.4%) he is a little suspect from 3-point range at only 28.6% he is a solid rebounder at 5.4 per game (averaging 4.1 on the defensive glass). He averaged 12.3 PPG at Louisville. Scouting reports have him as a solid defender and is athletic and physical enough at 6-7 to guard all 5 positions. Expect to see him in the role that Quincy Guerrier played for Illinois last season.

Jake Davis, 6-6 210lbs from Mercer

He played in 33 games for the Bears starting in 25 of them. He averaged 28  minutes per game garnering nine points and 4.5 rebounds per game as a Freshman. He also averaged about 1 assist per game and shot 41.9% from the floor and 38.7 from the arc. He will most likely be 6th or 7th man off the bench. At his size, he could also see time backing up Ty Rodgers at the forward or wing slot when more three-point shooting is needed.

Carey Booth, 6-10 205lbs from Notre Dame

Carey Booth vis Notre Dame Athletics

He is the son of former 11-year NBA veteran and current Denver Nuggets GM Calvin Booth. He is coming in as a Sophomore. Booth averaged only 6.4 points but did grab a respectable 4.3 rebounds per game. Originally a top 60 recruit who was recruited by Penn State but went to Notre Dame when the Fighting Irish hired Micha Shrewsberry as their coach. At 6-10 and 205, he is slim but has valuable power 5 experience and has a very keen basketball intellect.

Kylan Boswell 6-2 200lbs from ArizonaT

He is a former Urbana Native and 5-star high school prospect. He started 35 of 36 games and averaged 9.6 PPG while dishing out 3.6 assists. He is considered a big-bodied guard with a good pull-up jumper who shot 38% from 3-point range. He is considered a good defender with 1.4 steals per game. At this point, Boswell looks to be the odds-on favorite at the Point Guard slot. Rodgers would move to a forward slot to make better use of his size and rebounding, leaving Gibbs-Lawhorn as the lone backup.

New old coach

The Illini have 3 scholarships remaining and still some names in the portal that could fit. If it were me with no senior on the team, I would be inclined to look in that direction in the role of a true big man and wing scorer. But thankfully the Illini won't rely on me they have brought in someone slightly better in former Illini and Kentucky Assistant coach Orlando Antigua. Coach Antigua is known as a developer of big men like Kofi Coburn, Anthony Davis, and Demarcus's cousins to name a few. he is also good at attracting international players as well.

Some names that he and Illinois are rumored be looking at.

Ben Humrichous 6-9 220 University of Evansville.

He is considered a stretch 4, as a Freshman he averaged 14.7 pts per game along with 4.7 Rebounds per game(3.8 defensively) and shot a very good 48.4 from the 3-point arc. He is set to have an official visit on Friday, April 26.

Ugonna Onyeso 7-0 247 from Kentucky

An incoming Junior he hasn’t logged a ton of minutes at Kentucky getting only about 18 minutes per game averaging 3.6 points and 4.6 rebounds. Rumors have it he is headed to Alabama but Antigua does have ties to Onyeso so until it is formal the Illini have a chance. He would compete with Johnson for the post or be a solid backup/platoon.

Johnell Davis from Florida Atlantic

He is 6-4 203, a 5th-year senior a career 48% FG shooter, and 36.6% from beyond the arc. Davis logged 32 minutes per game last season. rumor has it he is heading to the SEC so I* don't know if he is on Illinois radar. I think he should be with the amount of scoring and shooting they need to replace. But the one guarantee with the portal is you never know.

Now how the recruits and transfers work out only time will tell. I think that now armed with Orlando Antigua back as a recruiter and solid transfers in Boswell and Booth, already here. Attracting the level of talent needed to stay at an elite level does not seem such a daunting task.

Other names that could be considered are

Javon Small 6-2 195 PG from Oklahoma St 15.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.1 APG 1 year of eligibility.

Clifford Omoruyi 6-10 230 C from Rutgers, 10.4 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.9 BPG 1 year of eligibility.

Brandon Garrison 6-11 245 from Oklahoma St 7.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG 1.5 BPG 3 years of eligibility.

Chaz Lanier 6-4 175 Comco guard from North Florida 19.7PPG, 3.1 RPG 1.2 APG 1 year of eligibility.

The Illini have 5 open scholarships available at this point don't be surprised if they pick up a bench player or two to go along maybe another possible starter.

Thanks for reading, leave a comment and a like if you wish. And don't forget to check out my podcast Talking Sports on the Bleachers which can be found on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and most anyplace you can get your podcast.

You can also email me at

or on X @tsotbgcs GO ILLINI!

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