Illinois basketball is less than a week away from tipping off the 2023-24 season.
With the new season on the horizon, the Illini are looking to not only be one of the best teams in the Big Ten, but we are eyeing one of the top seeds in the NCAA tournament. This program is poised for great things, and this past Sunday against Kansas proved that to be a fact.
Entering the new season, there are a few players who I believe could break out and outperform expectations that I once had for them just weeks ago.
Here are five Illinois basketball players who will outperform expectations for the 2023-24 season
1. Justin Harmon
It is hard to say that a graduate transfer will outperform expectations. You kind of already know what a player is when they have already spent nearly a half-decade in the college game.
Justin Harmon came into the Illinois program as one of those graduate transfers. He jettisoned in from Utah Valley where he averaged 14.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.3 steals last season. But that was with Utah Valley. Who knows how those numbers will transfer to Big Ten play?
So far, through the two exhibition games and the Spain trip, I have been extremely impressed with what Harmon brings to the court. He has great athletic ability and can get to the bucket.
Harmon was our sixth man in the Kansas win on Sunday night. He played a clean game of six points and six rebounds while going 3-of-5 from the field in 23 minutes of action. That is exactly what Illinois needs off the bench.
A big reason Harmon is on this list is the fact he wasn’t regarded as one of the best transfers in the country. In fact, 247Sports had him as the No. 124 transfer this past offseason. I don’t think Harmon is just a contributor this season. I think he is going to be an important piece of the puzzle. Look for Harmon to be one of the best sixth men in the country.