Early projected Illinois basketball lineup for the 2024-25 season

Now that the Illinois basketball season is over, it is time to look at what lies ahead for the Orange and Blue roster in 2024-25.

Jan 5, 2024; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn (2)
Jan 5, 2024; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn (2) / Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
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No. 5 Forward/Center

Starter: Morez Johnson Jr. (FR)

In the history of Brad Underwood being the head coach of the Illinois basketball program, he has always started freshmen who are ranked inside the 247Sports composite rankings top 50. I believe that will continue with Morez Johnson Jr.

Morez is a consensus top 40 recruit in the class of 2024. He is a great physical player who has a nice polished paint presence. Morez is mean on the glass and can pull down a ton of rebounds for the Illini. He averaged 17.2 points, 14.1 rebounds, 3.4 blocks, and 2.5 steals per game as a senior with Thornton Township. I am also curious if Morez can develop his three-point shot. He took 50 three-point shots this past season and hit them at a clip of 34%. That is something to keep an eye on. I have Morez starting at the No. 5 spot entering next season.

Backup: Dain Dainja (SR)

I don’t know how plausible this will be considering he is probably looking for a starting job, but entering the 2024-25 campaign, I have Dain Dainja being the primary backup to Morez at the No. 5 spot.

If Dainja comes back and is okay with being the primary backup averaging 15-20 minutes per game, Illinois will have one of the nastiest frontcourts in the country. He averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game this past season. I love Dainja’s footwork and think he is a really solid player. He would be great for the program and would help develop the young players.

Backup: Jason Jakstys (FR)

The final piece to the 2024-25 roster is Jason Jakstys. He is someone who is a bit under the radar in the 2024 class, but I could see Underwood developing this kid into a solid rotational piece for the Illini.

Jakstys is a 6-foot-10, 205-pound center from Yorkville High School in Illinois. He is rated as a three-star recruit and ranked as the No. 119 player in the class of 2024. He is also the No. 4 player coming out of Illinois. I have Jakstys being the second backup at the No. 5 spot next season. My goal for him would be a developmental path that of Coleman Hawkins. I think this kid has a ton of talent, so let’s see what Underwood can do with him.