Big Ten big man a target for the Illinois basketball team in the transfer portal

The transfer portal is heating up, and Illinois basketball has wasted no time targeting some important pieces for the future.
Feb 29, 2024; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights center Clifford Omoruyi (11)
Feb 29, 2024; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights center Clifford Omoruyi (11) / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois basketball is doing its due diligence in the transfer portal, as we are now after a huge Big Ten big man.

It is officially transfer portal season, and while the Illini are vying for an Elite 8 berth, the program is also targeting some of the big names who are available.

One of the bigger names to hit the transfer portal is Clifford Omoruyi. He is a 6-foot-11, 240-pound center who decided to find a new home for his final year of basketball after spending four seasons with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

On Sunday, Joe Tipton of reported that Omoruyi has heard from numerous programs. He posted a list of teams that had contacted him. Tipton then posted a second list of teams who were the latest teams to show interest in the big man. On that second list was Illinois.

Transfer portal big man Clifford Omoruyi would join a crowded frontcourt if he picked the Illinois basketball team

Omoruyi is a good basketball player. He averaged 10.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game this past season with Rutgers. He is someone who could be a defensive stopper in the paint.

If Omoruyi did end up picking the Illini, he would be joining a stacked frontcourt. Illinois has a talented freshman on the roster right now in Amani Hansberry. He is 6-foot-8, 240 pounds, and was the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior.

Next season, Illinois has Morez Johnson Jr. coming into the program. He was the Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year, and there is a strong chance he will earn the Illinois Mr. Basketball honor. Johnson averaged 20.0 points, 15.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 3.0 steals per game as a senior. Johnson was also a unanimous top-35 recruit for the class of 2024.

On top of those two, Illinois will still have Dain Dainja on the roster. After his big stretch run here at the end, he might end up looking for greener pastures and a starting spot, but the talented big man has been special for this program. I hope he sticks around and has another ride in him with the Orange and Blue.

I could see Illinois starting Hansberry at the No. 4 spot and Johnson at the No. 5 spot in 2024-25. Dainja would then be one of the top reserves. You don’t bring in a top-35 recruit and have him ride the pine.

That would leave Omoruyi as a primary reserve, much like what Dain Dainja was this season. If Omoruyi did pick Illinois, we would be loaded in the frontcourt. That is a lot of playing time to share, though.