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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4. Rim protection

In 2023-24, Illinois didn’t have a rim protector like Nnanna Egwu or Kofi Cockburn. We didn’t have someone to swat away shots consistently.

Coleman Hawkins led the way in blocked shots last season for the Illini. He finished the year averaging 1.1 blocks per game and was the only one over 1.0 blocks on the team. Illinois averaged 3.8 blocks per game, which ranked No. 110 in the country.

Being No. 110 in the nation isn’t bad, but I could see Illinois taking a jump up in the rankings in 2024-25. We are bringing in some great size, and I think that size can protect the rim.

The main addition who I think will help in the blocks department is Morez Johnson Jr. I keep coming back to this kid, but I think he is the most dominant two-way player Illinois has entering the upcoming season.

Johnson averaged 3.4 blocks per game last season with Thornton Township. While he isn’t the biggest at 6-foot-9, he is extremely long and can cause chaos at the rim.

I think Illinois’ length in general could get us into the top 100 in blocks nationally too. I have never seen a roster with this much size. Illinois has 12 players on scholarship for next season and 10 of those 12 players measure at least 6-foot-6. We have six players at least 6-foot-8, and three of those players are at least 6-foot-10.

People talk about the offense and how Illinois could put up some points in 2024-25. The thing that sticks out to me the most is the potential for the defense to be legendary. Illinois has monsters on the roster, and I can’t wait for them to eat.