Eamonn Brennan, writing in The Athletic, have a few words about this upcoming season of Illinois Basketball.
There’s a lot to like about Illinois, both in the immediate term and beyond. As for the immediate term, the 2018-19 season felt like a platform year, the throw-your-talented-kids-in-the-mix-and-let-them-figure-it-out season you often see of programs in mid-rebuild. And the kids played well. Giorgi Bezhanishvili became a star. Ayo Dosunmu was both immediately productive and full of potential. Trent Frazier had a solid sophomore season. Andres Feliz rounds out a quality core. And Illinois added some much-needed size with 6-foot-10 center Kofi Cockburn, who’ll likely play a lot right away. At worst, this team should be in the tournament mix. At best, they have serious breakout potential.
As for the long term: I remember when I heard Illinois had hired Brad Underwood. I was with to long-suffering Illinois alumnus and friend of the mailbag John Gasaway, in fact. I was surprised and impressed. John was thrilled. Underwood was really, really good at Oklahoma State, and it was a total coup for Illinois — a program that has struggled for much of the past decade — to land him. Just two years in, you can already see Underwood’s sharp, uptempo style coming through, and it’s still just the beginning.
Just the beginning.