The top five guards for the Illini from last season are gone but the newcomers have just as much potential. The big name is Terrence Shannon Jr., 6’6 wing and three-year starter at Texas Tech with a career scoring average of 11.0 ppg, while also coming off a career-high season average of 38% from three-point range. He’s capable of playing and guarding three positions but is one of the best “3 and D” players in college basketball.
Two returning guards that were buried on the bench last season were Luke Goode, a talented shooting wing, and RJ Melendez, two legit breakout candidates for next season now that they’ll be getting more minutes. Melendez showed in limited minutes his potential last season and the former top-40 prospect will be a factor.
The key to Illinois’ season will be the play of five-star point guard freshman Skyy Clark. The former Kentucky commit is the projected starting point guard and will have the keys to the offense. But is he ready for big minutes and a key role on this new-look roster? That question will ultimately determine their ceiling for 2022-23.
Lastly, the team also has a trio of top-10 freshmen (Ty Rodgers, Jayden Epps, Sencire Harris) that’ll compete for a spot in the rotation. Epps, who will likely be the backup guard to Clark, will have an important role in stabilizing the position.