Illinois basketball is bringing in quite the recruiting class for 2022.
This is something that has piqued my interest. What if, somehow, Brad Underwood doesn’t land a single player for the 2023 class? What would the Illinois starting lineup look like if we just, as the kids call it today, ran it back next year with the same roster?
Here is the projected Illinois basketball lineup for 2023 with no new additions.
No. 1 Guard
Starter: Skyy Clark
I believe heading into the 2022-23 campaign that Skyy Clark is our starting point guard. Illinois doesn’t have much in the way of a point guard, so Clark should have this job fairly easily. If he does come back for year two, Clark would then be the starting point guard for the Illini once again.
A combination of Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams handled the bulk of the traditional point guard duties last season. This probably was a bit of a hindrance to the program because it wasn’t their normal role, but they did a good job filling in at point guard. Illinois now has a four-star recruit who is the No. 33 player in the class of 2022 coming in to be the lead guard. On top of that, Clark is the fifth-highest-rated recruit Illinois has snagged since 2003. He should be sensational from the get-go.
Backup: Jayden Epps
A solid backup to Clark this season and into the future should be Jayden Epps. He is a four-star recruit who was the No. 71 player in the class of 2022.
I think the 2022-23 campaign is going to be a nice learning season for Epps. He should be a backup to Clark this year and during the 2023-24 campaign. But both years should also see Epps play multiple positions on the court. He is a really good combo-guard who can dominate passing and shooting.
To succeed at the college level, a team always needs a solid point guard. Heading into the 2023-24 season, Illinois will need to look for a point guard who can come in and play within a year.
I think there is a chance Clark is gone after year one but it is almost guaranteed that he departs after the 2023-24 season. That means Illinois is going to need more depth at point guard. ZZ Clark will come in for the 2024-25 campaign, but it would be nice to land a No. 1 guard who can be a backup in 2023-24 and then start in 2024-25. This would enable Epps to move into more of a No. 2 guard role, and it would give ZZ more time to develop.