Illinois basketball continues to go the wrong way in one of the latest rankings by an analyst.
The changes the Illini have gone through this offseason have some people understandably nervous about what the program is going to look like. There are only four returning scholarship players from the team we saw just three months ago. That is a ton of turnover.
But Illinois was able to land some big pieces to help fill the voids left by the departed. Skyy Clark is a superstar point guard who will take over the No. 1 guard spot as a true freshman. Ty Rodgers just won gold for the U18 Team USA squad, and he should compete for serious mentions as a freshman. Terrence Shannon Jr. and Matthew Mayer both transferred into the Illini program and should start from day one.
Despite all of these great additions, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports doesn’t see Illinois as a top team. In fact, the Illini have now dropped all the way down to No. 37 in his Rothstein 45 rankings. This is a two-spot drop from the No. 35 ranking he had for the Illini just a couple of weeks ago.
Why does Jon Rothstein have the Illinois basketball team dropping in his ranking?
After the addition of Mayer, Rothstein moved Illinois up to the No. 35 spot. This was a big addition for the Illini, as Mayer is a long player who can shoot the three-point shot. I believe the reason Rothstein dropped Illinois two spots was for the Jacob Grandison departure.
This is the only reason I can think of for dropping the Illini. Nothing else has happened. Grandison decided to come back to college and enter the transfer portal. He just pledged his commitment to Duke days ago. For some reason, this might have been the reason why Illinois fell two spots.
Rothstein has Illinois’ starting lineup looking like this; No. 1 Clark, No. 2 Shannon, No. 3 Mayer, No. 4 Coleman Hawkins, and No. 5 Dain Dainja.
I’m not sold on Dainja starting for the Illini yet. He hasn’t proved anything at the college level, and I think there are other guys on the bench who could help Illinois more in the starting lineup. I am mainly looking at RJ Melendez.
But even with the lineup Rothstein has for the Illini, I think that is a good enough lineup to crack the top 25. I don’t get how we are dropping in his ranking. Not to mention, Illinois has five four-star recruits coming off the bench to help replace an already experienced and talented lineup. I can’t wait to prove Rothstein wrong this season.