In year four, Brad Underwood has secured a top 20 recruiting class and a top 3 class in the Big Ten for his Illinois basketball program.
Two in-state guys and two guys from opposite ends of the nation are included in this bunch. As the Illini find success on the court, notoriety has grown and we’ve seen immediate results on the recruiting trail.
The crown jewel of the class of 2020 is Adam Miller. Front Office Gurus 17th overall player in the class is coming to Champaign with some lofty long term expectations, but what can we expect in year one?
Miller is the third highest-rated recruit in Illinois basketball history and just barely the second highest-rated recruit in the Underwood era behind Ayo Dosunmu. Miller will enter his freshman campaign at 6-foot-3 and just over 180 pounds. A deadly first step, a flamethrower from deep and defensive intensity makes the southpaw a cornerstone piece moving forward for the Illini.
With the return of Ayo, along with the other backcourt pieces, Miller’s expectations and expected volume have decreased over the last few weeks. Formerly projected to be the go-to volume shooter, he will now be allowed a larger transition period once he hits the court. Morgan Park basketball is among the top programs in the Midwest, but Big Ten basketball is a tough transition for any player nationwide regardless of their caliber.
The Peoria-born guard should have no problem finding shots due to his quickness, deep range and ability to attack closeouts, but I do foresee shot IQ, turnovers and some defensive shortcomings to pop up early on.
I ranked Miller as the Illini player with the second-best NBA trajectory for due reason. Shooting is at a premium in the modern NBA and the common thread I continuously harp on in NBA evaluations is that two-way players are invaluable.
Commonly known as AceWolf, Miller will not be a lockdown defender on the perimeter from day one, but I do expect plenty of flashes picking the passing lane, leading run-outs in transition and covering major ground in transition defense.
In terms of team fit, many favor Curbelo over Miller when talking about immediate impact. I expect Curbelo to be a game-changer as well, but in a reserve role as a secondary ball-handler. I think Miller slots in very nicely with the starting group because of his ability to make a defense pay at all three levels.
As Ayo continues to dominate in the mid-range and on slashes, defenses will try to wall off the paint and run him off of his spots. I favor Miller to make defenses pay on the perimeter and often.
The 2020 Illini recruiting class is rated as the program’s best class since 2014 and the pieces could not be falling into place at a better time, and I am not even accounting for two standout transfers on the wing. The influx of talent to an already top-flight Big Ten program should have Champaign on their feet, and I expect Miller to make the biggest impact of the bunch in the 2020-2021 season.
11.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game