2. Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn is a monster
There are a lot of things that I get wrong because I am human. During the summer and coming into the season, I wasn’t sure Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn was going to get much playing time. I actually thought he was going to do what Sencire Harris did and take a redshirt for the 2023-24 season.
I would argue that I have never been more wrong in my life. Gibbs-Lawhorn isn’t just getting minutes, but through one game, he might be the best player on the Illinois basketball team. Setting hyperbole aside, this kid is a special talent and is going to be a huge asset to this program in 2023-24 and beyond.
The first thing that popped off the screen was the energy that Gibbs-Lawhorn brought to the table. Illinois looked lifeless, but when he came off the bench, the team’s mentality changed.
Gibbs-Lawhorn then started to play, and I was blown away. He wasn’t getting garbage minutes either. This kid was one of the first players off the bench, and he was sensational. The speed and understanding of the game of basketball was incredible.
I was impressed by how well Gibbs-Lawhorn can score from all levels too. He is great and aggressive in getting to the rim and finishing. He can also knock down three-point shots, as he was 2-of-5 on the night.
A true freshman in Gibbs-Lawhorn led an Illinois roster, which consists of three graduate players, a fifth-year senior, and two regular seniors, with 18 points and three assists. He also had three rebounds, one steal, and one block on the night in 19 minutes of action.
I can’t tell you the last freshman that has impressed me this much through one game. Gibbs-Lawhorn is the real deal, and his development over the non-conference is going to be exciting to watch.