Illinois Basketball: 2022 big man keeps Illini in top 7

Illinois basketball has made numerous top lists already, and they added another one on Wednesday afternoon.

2022 is looking like a pretty pivotal class for the Illini, as a huge transition is going to happen after the upcoming season. Two top 100 recruits in Jayden Epps and Sencire Harris have already joined the mission to getting Illinois to a national title, but there are still some spots left on the team.

Needing a player to fill the No. 5 spot for the future, the Illini coaching staff has been focusing on securing a big man for 2022. An option that has emerged as a real possibility is Christ Essandoko.

Essandoko is a 6-foot-11, 260-pound center from Winston-Salem Prep but resides in Paris, France. He is rated as a three-star recruit and ranked as the No. 134 player in the class of 2022. He is also the No. 20 center in the nation and the No. 3 player coming out of France.

On Wednesday, Essandoko narrowed the scope of his recruitment down to just seven programs. The seven teams making his top list included Seton Hall, North Carolina State, Providence, Oral Roberts, Georgetown, Maryland, and Illinois.

Is Essandoko the future Illinois basketball big man?

Illinois has been trying for quite some time to land the replacement for Kofi Cockburn. Essandoko has the size to fill the big shoes left behind, but can the Illini beat out the six other programs?

247Sports has Maryland in the lead for Essandoko, but I honestly believe his recruitment is wide open. Illinois has been among the schools that have visited the big man. Every program is recruiting Essandoko constantly, though.

I would say location isn’t a huge factor for Essandoko considering six of his top teams are all spread out along the coast and Illinois is in the midwest. I assume playing time and development has to be a factor. Illinois would have both of these available come 2022-23.

At the end of the day, Illinois can provide an ample amount of playing time in the future. Essandoko could come in and start from day one. Brad Underwood has also shown he can develop a big man into one of the best players in the country. There is no doubt in my mind the Illini are serious contenders for Essandoko.