Illinois Basketball finished fifth in the Big Ten last season with an 11-9 conference record. While the Fighting Illini were unable to crack the top 100 for points in the nation, it was their ability to protect the rim with over five blocks per game that carried them into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 9 seed. Terrance Shannon Jr. would lead Head Coach Brad Underwood’s squad with 20 points in their 73-63 first-round loss to Arkansas.
For the second straight year, there are substantial changes with the roster at Champagne, as Jayden Epps, R.J Melendez, and Skyy Clark transferred and Matthew Mayer graduated. To offset the departures the Fighting Illini have Justin Harmon, Marcus Domask, and Quincy Guerrier joining the Orange and Blue along with the No. 57 ranked freshman Amani Hansberry in what will surely be appreciated by the Orange Krush student section at State Farm Center.
Last season Coach Underwood had ten players that averaged double-digit minutes and with just four of those players departing, Coach Underwood has a solid base to build freshmen and transfers around. The combination of returning players and experienced transfers has Illinois placed in a five or six-seed in early bracketology.
The projected five seed is an indication that the Fighting Illini are an improved team from last year, as Domask and Guerrier are going to be upgrades from last year’s starters. If Coach Underwood has the bodies he will get the most out of them, as even making the tournament in 2023 was an accomplishment as the Fighting Illini returned just 14 percent of their scoring. In contrast, this season, Coach Underwood will have three of his top four scorers returning. With 2022-23 in the review mirror, let us look ahead to the 2023-24 depth chart of the Illinois Men’s Basketball team.