The Illinois basketball team was poised to have a great 2019-2020 campaign until everything came to a screeching halt.
Covid-19 shut everything down and the magical season came to an end. Since that point, Ayo Dosunmu declared for the NBA Draft. This was expected so he could, at least, get some feedback on his game. But the one that hurt the most was when Kofi Cockburn also declared for the draft. While I expected this as well, he is a big blow to the No. 5 spot for this program.
There is still a chance Kofi comes back to the Illini, though. I would say it is probably 60-40 in favor of him returning. But there is still a solid chance he hears something from an NBA scout, and he decides to stay and play in the G-League for a while. If that worst-case scenario happens, Illinois needs to be prepared.
There wasn’t a true big man coming out of the class of 2020 for the Illini. We were able to pick up a commitment from Coleman Hawkins, but he is more of a No. 4 than a No. 5. The option to start at the No. 5 for the next couple of years would then be Giorgi Bezhanishvili, and we all have seen what happens when he is put into that role.
So, what do we do about the No. 5 spot? I think the answer is Micawber “Mac” Etienne.
Here are three reasons why Mac Etienne should be priority No. 1 for the Illini.