The Illinois basketball team has officially missed out on one of the top transfer targets on the market.
Chaundee Brown once had the Illini in his top four, along with Iowa State, Gonzaga and LSU. But the Wake Forest transfer bucked his top list and decided to commit to Michigan on Tuesday afternoon. This was a blow to the Orange and Blue, but what is the backup plan?
Honestly, while it hurt the Illini to an extent, we have plenty of options beyond just Brown. Let’s take a look at what we already have on the roster.
Coming into the 2020-21 campaign, Illinois has a top 20 class signed. Adam Miller and Andre Curbelo should be able to hold down a starting guard position, while Coleman Hawkins is coming in to give the Illini some size.
I can take this a step further as well. Illinois has two players in Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn who I don’t have on the roster as of right now. Without both of those players, the Illini have 10 out of 13 scholarships accounted for. So, that leaves plenty of room for both Ayo and Kofi to pull their names out of the NBA Draft. The longer the NBA season is postponed, the more likely both players return to the team.
That is looking at the immediate future. But Brown was, likely, not going to get a waiver, so he would have had to sit out the upcoming season. That means he would have been eligible for the 2021-22 campaign. What does the roster look like then?
With the way the roster is constructed right now, we have four scholarships to play with for 2021. Luke Goode is already on board for the class of 2021. He is a sensation wing player who can put up big numbers.
I love our starting guards for 2021, but I think we need to add more depth there and we need to add another No. 5 to the mix. There are some options to fill both of these needs.
Micawber “Mac” Etienne needs to be priority No. 1 as I have previously mentioned in articles. He is a 6-foot-10 center who I believe the Illini have the edge for right now. Etienne is also the No. 56 player in the class of 2021.
Adding someone like Brandon Weston would be huge too. I think the Illini have the lead for him as well. He is a 6-foot-5 wing who is rated as the No. 75 player in the class of 2021. This would be a great chance for Illinois to keep that Morgan Park connection strong.
Illinois could continue adding to the No. 3 and No. 4 spots on the team with picking up a commitment from Jordan Nesbitt. He could be a tougher get for the Orange and Blue, but I believe we are right there at the top for his commitment. He is the No. 131 player in the class of 2021.
So, despite Illinois losing out on Brown and missing the production he could have put up in Champaign, I think the team is going to be just fine. We have open spots to fill and plenty of options remaining for the class of 2021. This is just a small speed bump on the road to a Big Ten crown.