Illinois basketball has an opportunity to do something special this season with so much talent up and down the roster.
The addition of two great transfers in Terrence Shannon Jr. and Matthew Mayer is going to be amazing for the Illini. They fill some of the biggest holes on the team. But let’s not overlook the impact the freshman class will have on the program.
Brad Underwood is bringing in the No. 9 ranked class in the country. Sencire Harris is the lowest-rated recruit coming in, and he is a four-star who is ranked as the best player coming out of Ohio. Ty Rodgers, the best player coming out of Illinois, is a four-star recruit who just won gold for U18 Team USA. Jayden Epps, the best player in North Carolina, might end up being the best recruit out of the bunch.
All three of these players are ranked No. 88, No. 49, and No. 45 in the class of 2022, respectively. And then you get to the highest-rated recruit in the class. Skyy Clark is a four-star recruit who is ranked as the No. 32 player in the country and the No. 8 player coming out of Florida.
Clark’s commitment to Illinois a few months back made the biggest waves out of all of the pledges, and he is likely to have the biggest impact on the team as a freshman. Andy Katz of the NCAA thinks so, anyway. On Monday, Katz released a ranking of the most important freshmen for 2022-23. You only have to drop down to No. 9 to find Clark on the list.
Skyy Clark will have the biggest impact out of all of the freshmen for the Illinois basketball team.
Some of the biggest names in the country don Katz’s list of the most important freshmen. Obviously, most of the names on the list should have a big impact on their team. A lot of the list are top 10 recruits from 2022. Those are supposed to be immediate impact guys.
What piques my interest the most is the fact Clark is the lowest-rated recruit, per 247Sports, on the list. He is the No. 32 player in the country, and the next closest recruit is the player who occupies the No. 8 spot on Katz’s list, Jalen Hood-Schifino. He is heading to Indiana and is ranked as the No. 24 player in the country.
Katz saw what Illinois needed the most, and I believe that is why Clark is the No. 9 most important freshman for the upcoming season. Honestly, I think he is probably underrated even at No. 9. I think Clark’s presence is going to be crucial.
Illinois doesn’t have a backup point guard who has the handles like Clark. The best option is probably going to be Jayden Epps, who is more of a No. 2 guard but can play the point. But he is also going to be a true freshman.
There have been a few players in recent memory who the Illini have had to rely on greatly at a certain position. Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn both come to mind. Clark is in that air. He is our guy at the No. 1 guard spot, and there is no question about it.