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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5. Stretching the floor

I have touched on size a few times in this article. Illinois is bringing a ton of size to the court, and this should help in multiple departments.

Last season was fun to watch because the Illini once again had good size. Our backcourt measured at least 6-foot-6, and we could hang with anyone defensively because of the great size we brought to the court.

Brad Underwood was able to secure even more size for 2024-25. This size isn’t just lumbering big men either. We have players who are big and can stretch the floor. While Coleman Hawkins was a great floor stretcher last season, I think the Illini have multiple players who can do what Hawkins did for this program in 2024-25.

I think Will Riley is the biggest asset when it comes to stretching the floor. Landing Riley this offseason was huge. He is a 6-foot-8 five-star recruit who can use his size to get into the lane, but he can also hit shots from anywhere on the court. This past season, Riley shot 46.4% from three-point range.

Another huge asset Illinois was able to land for the upcoming season was the transfer of Ben Humrichous. He lit the world on fire with Evansville last season, and at 6-foot-9, he was able to hit 41.4% from three-point range.

Humrichous should be able to play multiple positions on the court, and if he can pull a big power forward out to the perimeter, it should enable Illinois’ guards to drive the lanes.

While the sample size isn’t huge, don’t sleep on two other Illinois big men who are coming into the program. Morez Johnson Jr. is 6-foot-9, and while his main attributes are that of a traditional big man, he did shoot 34.0% from three-point range as a senior. I also want to note that, again the sample size is small, Tomislav Ivisic, who is 7-foot-1, shot 42.3% from three-point range in 2023-24. He only had 26 attempts, but the ability is clearly there.

Lumbering big men are fine. Kofi Cockburn was fun to watch. But when you have great size that can also step out and shoot, that opens the floor for more scoring opportunities. I think Illinois will have a lot of those opportunities in 2024-25.

Next. Projected Illinois basketball lineup after the commitment of Will Riley. Projected Illinois basketball lineup after the commitment of Will Riley. dark