Illinois Basketball: NBA Draft analyst has three Illini on his big board

Jun 23, 2022; Brooklyn, NY, USA; A general view as NBA commissioner Adam Silver speaks before the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 23, 2022; Brooklyn, NY, USA; A general view as NBA commissioner Adam Silver speaks before the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

During the Brad Underwood regime, the Illinois basketball program has started to get more involved in the NBA Draft process.

Illini fans used to be able to only hang their hat on the fact that Deron Williams and Meyers Leonard were in the NBA, but neither one is on an NBA roster currently. So, we didn’t have a lot to root for in the NBA, but that is starting to change.

Ayo Dosunmu was picked in the 2021 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, and he is now their starting point guard. There were also rumblings about a few other Illini players in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Heading into the 2022-23 campaign, Illinois is loaded with potential NBA Draft talent. On Tuesday, Matt Babcock of released his first big board for the 2023 NBA Draft. This big board consists of the top 60 prospects.

Illinois basketball is looking to have multiple players selected in the 2023 NBA Draft.

There were three Illinois players who made Babcock’s big board. Coleman Hawkins, Terrence Shannon Jr., and Matthew Mayer are all projected top 60 players.

In chatting with Babcock about his big board, he filled the Writing Illini in on why Hawkins, Shannon Jr., and Mayer all made the list and how each player fits into the NBA.

Coleman Hawkins – #44

Babcock: In the last couple of seasons, Coleman Hawkins has shown NBA talent. I’m counting on him filling a more significant role for the Illini this season and producing more regularly. Hawkins’ style fits the NBA well as a faceup big. If he can prove to be a more consistent outside shooter and player overall, that will increase his value from an NBA perspective.

My take: Babcock has Coleman Hawkins listed as the No. 44 player on his big board. There has been a lot of hype around Hawkins entering this season due to his length and athletic ability. His defensive prowess has increased tremendously as well.

This isn’t the first time I have seen Hawkins’ name when it comes to the 2023 NBA Draft either. I would argue he has the highest ceiling out of all of the Illini players this season.

Terrence Shannon Jr. – #49

Babcock: After testing the NBA Draft waters after the 2020-21 college season and deciding to return to Texas Tech, I expected Terrence Shannon Jr. to make the necessary jump in his development and play. Well, that didn’t happen, and instead of being in the draft, he chose to transfer.

I spent some time with Terrence in Portland at Damian Lillard’s Formula Zero this past summer. I have the impression that the last year or so has served as a wake-up call for him, and I think the fresh start at Illinois is just what he needs to get back on track. I have never denied that Terrence has the physical tools and talent to play in the NBA. First, however, he has to take care of business and progress in his development as a player. All indications are that he will have an excellent opportunity to do just that with the Illini this season.

My take: Illini newcomer Terrence Shannon Jr. is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, transfer snag in the entire nation. He was electric for Texas Tech in the three years he was there, and he is now bringing that playmaking ability to Illinois.

Shannon can light up the scoreboard. His ability to hit shots from anywhere on the court is going to get Illini fans excited. The addition of Shannon will help Illinois replace six out of the top seven scorers from last season.

Matthew Mayer – #56

Babcock: At 6-foot-9, Matthew Mayer has terrific size for a perimeter player and is a three-level scorer who can shoot the ball from outside and put it on the deck. I’ve always been intrigued by Mayer. In fact, I had him projected as a second-round pick for most of the season last year. If he can put together a productive season individually, and if the Illini succeeds as many people expect, it should help Mayer’s value and give him a decent chance of being drafted in the 2023 NBA Draft.

My take: Coming in just inside the top 60 players on Babcock’s big board is Matthew Mayer. He is also a newcomer to the Illinois program and a player who could do wonders for the Orange and Blue at the No. 4 spot.

Mayer’s experience in winning a national title is probably the thing I am most excited about for the Illini. As far as his NBA prospects go, he has a chance to be a solid player at the next level. He can come in and hit a few three-point shots from the bench and be serviceable. Mayer would be able to help a team.

Projected Illini lineup for the start of the 2022-23 season. dark. Next