Illinois Basketball: Projected Illini dream team lineup for 2021-22

COLUMBUS, OHIO - MARCH 05: Head coach Brad Underwood of the Illinois Fighting Illini watches his team in the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Value City Arena on March 05, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OHIO - MARCH 05: Head coach Brad Underwood of the Illinois Fighting Illini watches his team in the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Value City Arena on March 05, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO – MARCH 14: The Illinois Fighting Illini cheer team runs around the court against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during a first round game of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at the United Center on March 14, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Illinois defeated Minnesota 51-49. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

No. 5 Forward/Center

Starter: Micawber Etienne (Freshman – 4* – #50 overall)

The final commitment from the class of 2021 needs to be a big man. Illinois needs someone who can come into the program and make somewhere in the ballpark of the same splash as Kofi Cockburn. I think that someone could be Micawber “Mac” Etienne.

Etienne is a 6-foot-10, 220-pound center who is rated as a four-star recruit and ranked as the No. 50 player in the class of 2021. I see someone like Etienne coming into the Illinois program and starting from day one at the No. 5 spot. Illinois doesn’t have a ton of proven commodities at this position, so Etienne would fit in well. Considering Etienne took an official visit to Illinois already and seems to have liked the place, I think Champaign could be the eventual landing spot for this kid.

Backup: Coleman Hawkins (Sophomore – 3* – #153 overall)

I am really curious on what Illinois is getting from the class of 2020. There are a couple of big men coming in from this class, and one of those players is Coleman Hawkins.

Hawkins hasn’t played a minute for the Illini yet, but he is entering the program as a three-star recruit who is the No. 153 ranked player in his class. I think he has a great shot and can hustle, I am just not sure how quickly he will develop. But I do see him being a solid backup as a sophomore in 2021-22.

Backup: Jermaine Hamlin (Junior – NR – NR)

The player with the most potential for improvement this upcoming season is Jermaine Hamlin. He came into the Illinois program this past season after the Illini offered him a scholarship late in the recruiting process.

Hamlin didn’t play much for the Illini, but he did a great job spelling minutes for Cockburn. I want to see him take a jump in his career this upcoming season. By the time 2021-22 rolls around, maybe Hamlin could be starting instead of Etienne.

Backup: Brandon Lieb (Freshman – 3* – #468 overall)

Illinois was able to snag another big man late in the 2020 recruiting process. This big man was Brandon Lieb.

Top 5 targets left for the Illini in the class of 2021 2.0. dark. Next

Lieb is a 6-foot-11 big man who can shoot the ball. He isn’t huge but the kid is going to make an impact down the road. It wouldn’t shock me to see him redshirt for his freshman season but then come back in 2021-22 and play some minutes. I think his biggest contributions will be in the future. I love this addition, though.