5 projected improvements for the Illinois basketball team in 2024-25

It was a massive offseason for the Illinois basketball program, but the changes could prove good in a few areas on the court.
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Practice Day - Salt Lake City
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Practice Day - Salt Lake City / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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2. Better ability to distribute

Illinois didn’t have great ball movement last season. We were kind of running without a point guard but still managed to win a lot of games.

When the calendar turned to February, the Illini were averaging 12.8 assists per game for the 2023-24 season. That was bad enough to rank No. 183 in the country.

Over the next couple of months, Illinois’ assist numbers would improve. We ended the season averaging 13.3 assists per game, which ranked No. 135 in the nation.

Again, this was without a true point guard. Ty Rodgers was playing the No. 1 spot essentially by himself with a smattering of Marcus Domask bringing the ball up the court. That should change a lot this upcoming season.

Illinois’ three assist leaders last season were Domask at 3.9 assists per game, Coleman Hawkins at 2.7 assists per game, and Terrence Shannon Jr. at 2.3 assists per game. That is where we were with ball distribution.

Rodgers is back in the fold, as he averaged 2.0 assists per game last season. Joining him are quite a few players who can distribute the basketball. Kylan Boswell joins the party from Arizona where he averaged 3.6 assists per game. He is a welcomed presence in the backcourt.

A lot of Illinois fans are excited about Kasparas Jakucionis. Illinois landed this kid from overseas where he averaged 5.7 assists per game. He can play either guard position on the court.

I wouldn’t underestimate some of the big men distributing abilities either. Will Riley can pass the ball, as he logged 4.2 assists per game last season, and Morez Johnson Jr. finished with 3.5 assists per game.

Brad Underwood landed quality talent this offseason. What is even better is that the quality talent is well-rounded. Illinois should be able to move the ball much better and more fluid in 2024-25.