Illinois Basketball: Illini make contact with UNLV transfer Jonah Antonio

The Illinois basketball team is looking to add some talent to the roster this offseason.

Brad Underwood received some bad news on Tuesday night when rising star Alan Griffin decided to pack up his bags and depart the program. This departure came as a surprise to just about everyone who loves the basketball team. While the transfer portal has hurt us a little bit over the past 24 hours, it also might be a golden opportunity to improve our team as well.

Illinois has started to pursue a lot of transfers this offseason. It seems like the Illini have been associated with just about every player who has entered his name into the portal. Most of the transfers won’t be eligible this season, but there are a few who could come in and make an impact immediately.

The most recent name Illinois is pursuing is Jonah Antonio. He wasn’t a player who had a lot of national recruiting attention coming out of high school, so he picked Mount St. Mary’s as his landing spot. He spent a season with the Mountaineers where he averaged 11.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.

After his lone season with Mount St. Mary’s, Antonio departed the program and ended up playing a season at the junior college level. He put up 11.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game with South Plains College. Antonio then transferred to UNLV this past season.

With the Rebels, Antonio managed to put up 6.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. He shot 31.2-percent from the field and 31.5-percent from three-point range. He has now decided to become a graduate transfer and find a new home for his final year of eligibility.

On Wednesday morning, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports posted on Twitter a list of teams who have contacted Antonio about his recruitment. That list consisted of Marquette, Xavier, Wichita State, Maryland, Georgia, BYU and, yes, Illinois.

Where would Antonio fit in with the Illini? Well, he is a 6-foot-5, 180-pound guard, so he would play the No 1, 2, 3 or 4 spots on the team. He isn’t much of a distributor, so that takes the No. 1 spot out of the question. I don’t really care for his rebounding, which takes the No. 3 and 4 spots out of the question.

I think the best option would be for Antonio to be a backup at the No. 2 spot. But, let’s be honest, I am not sure how much playing time he would get on this team. I have Trent Frazier, Adam Miller, Andre Curbelo, Jacob Grandison and Austin Hutcherson all likely getting more action than Antonio. I am also mentally prepared to have Ayo Dosunmu depart for the NBA but, if he comes back, that adds another guard to the mix.

I understand Illinois’ willingness to pursue transfers at this stage in the game, but I think Antonio would be a reach. He was a below-average scorer on a nearly .500 team. There are bigger fish to catch this offseason.