A new transfer portal big man emerges for the Illinois basketball team

The transfer portal is a vast wonderland of potential, and new names appear for the Illinois basketball team to pursue daily
Kentucky v Auburn
Kentucky v Auburn / Michael Chang/GettyImages

Illinois basketball needs some frontcourt help, and that help may come from the transfer portal.

The Illini program has gone through some changes in the past month. A handful of players have departed the program while a handful of players have entered via the transfer portal.

On top of the transfer portal craziness, Illinois also lost an assistant coach to West Virginia. To replace Chester Frazier, Brad Underwood went out and snagged former Illini assistant coach, Orlando Antigua.

Antigua comes back to Champaign as the associate head coach, and most people think his impact is going to be felt quickly when it comes to incoming talent. A player who has recently entered the transfer portal and could end up being a target is Ugonna Onyenso.

On Tuesday, Onyenso officially entered the transfer portal. Coming out of Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut, Onyenso was a four-star recruit who was the No. 36 player in the class of 2022. He was also the No. 9 center in the country and the best player coming out of Connecticut.

Every program wanted Onyenso, but he picked Kentucky as his landing spot. He only averaged 6.9 minutes in 16 games with the Wildcats as a freshman. This past season, Onyenso showed his paint prowess by averaging 3.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game.

Illinois basketball needs to snag a great defensive stopper like Ugonna Onyenso out of the transfer portal

When Onyenso was coming out of high school, his main recruiter to Kentucky was Antigua. Now that he is with the Orange and Blue, I think it would be an easy connection to think Illinois would have an interest in the big man.

Illinois also needs more paint help. After losing Amani Hansberry to the transfer portal and West Virginia, the Illini are shorthanded in the paint. I currently have Ty Rodgers at the No. 4 and Morez Johnson Jr. at the No. 5. Carey Booth would then back up both of these starters.

It would be nice to have Booth mainly as the primary backup at the No. 4 spot, though. At 7-foot, 233 pounds, Onyenso is more of a standard No. 5. I think he would be great as Johnson’s primary backup. There is a chance they both would be in a timeshare getting something like 20 minutes per game.

Illinois needs more frontcourt help, and Onyenso could be that answer. He is a nice big center who could help dominate the paint. That is what I want on the roster.

Next. Projected Illinois basketball lineup after Luke Goode entered the transfer portal. Projected Illinois basketball lineup after Luke Goode entered the transfer portal. dark