The Illinois basketball team is going to look almost completely different than last season, and the changes continue to come for the program.
This offseason has been one of the craziest in recent memory. I believe only four players are coming back from the Illini roster we saw in the NCAA tournament last season. The most experienced scholarship player returning for the Orange and Blue is Coleman Hawkins, and he only played 19 minutes per game last season. The other returning players are Luke Goode (8.9 minutes), RJ Melendez (8.5 minutes), and Brandon Lieb (2.4 minutes).
Illinois fans did get a bit of hope that a familiar face would be returning just days ago, though. Jacob Grandison, who had entered the NBA Draft, decided to pull his name out of the draft process just days before the June 1 deadline.
With so much change happening with the Illinois program, I was skeptical about Grandison actually returning to the Illini. My skepticism looks to be correct as Jeff Borzello of ESPN is reporting that Grandison has entered his name into the transfer portal.
Jacob Grandison leaving the Illini at this point is completely understandable.
Let me first start off by saying, thank you, Grandison. You came into the Illinois basketball program and did some wonderful things. Whatever the coaching staff asked you to do, you did it with a smile on your face and with full heart. You are greatly appreciated by this Illini fan.
With that being said, this is the right move for Grandison in my eyes. There was no way he was getting a starting job in the Illinois lineup. The Illini starting lineup is going to look something like No. 1 Skyy Clark, No. 2 Terrence Shannon Jr., No. 3 RJ Melendez, No. 4 Matthew Mayer, and No. 5 Coleman Hawkins. Who would Grandison possibly replace there?
Illinois gave Grandison the platform to show off his skills the last couple of years. He has done well for the team too. Just this past season, he averaged 9.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. Those are solid numbers, and I am hoping that he lands with a good team. I want to see Grandison’s career continue to progress.
As an Illini fan, I am on to a new chapter and so is Grandison. I wish him nothing but the best moving forward. This move seems like it is best for both parties.