Former Illinois basketball guard made “worst mistake” by entering transfer portal

Illinois basketball has a special thing going, and an assistant coach is laying out what is going on with the program
Illinois v Maryland
Illinois v Maryland / G Fiume/GettyImages

During the Brad Underwood era of Illinois basketball, the program has added some elite talent to the roster.

It all started with Ayo Dosunmu joining the Illini as one of the top players in the country and the best player coming out of Chicago. From there, the dominos started to fall.

Underwood hasn’t been able to do this alone, though. Every season, he has a great coaching staff around him that has been able to recruit at a high level. One of those great coaches is assistant coach, Tim Anderson.

Anderson joined the Illini coaching staff in July 2021. Since then, he has not only been able to help develop players, but his recruiting ability is incredible, bringing in some of the top talent in the country. He has been able to build relationships, and his coaching has been a reason why Illinois was able to break through and get to the Elite 8 in 2024.

Illinois basketball coach Tim Anderson talks about some former players who entered the transfer portal and the culture of the program

On Tuesday, Anderson had a chance to join Bardo’s Breakdown, a YouTube show hosted by former Flyin’ Illini, Stephen Bardo. It is a lengthy interview, but the two did get into this past season.

“Probably, one of the most rewarding seasons I have ever been a part of,” said Anderson, “one of the most stressful seasons I have ever been a part of. Winning is hard.”

This offseason, Illinois lost all but two players on the roster from the Elite 8 team back in March. Underwood and the Illini coaching staff were able to hit the ground running when it came to the freshman and transfer portal classes.

Illinois is bringing in four new freshmen, and we currently have five transfer portal players joining the roster. But the Illini aren’t just targeting any player who is available.

“We try to bring guys in that have been coached,” said Anderson, “that has came from winning cultures, whether it is somebody who has averaged eight points or 13 points, he’s been coached hard, he wants to win, he has the ability to impact winning, and he can fit in with what we are trying to do.”

Culture has been a big part of the Underwood era. He established a culture early on, and coaches like Anderson have enriched and built that culture over the past few years.

That culture has also been developed by the talent Illinois has brought into the program. Despite all but two players leaving for one reason or another, Anderson doesn’t hold any grudges. In fact, he holds some of the players close to his heart.

“People feel some type of way about Luke (Goode), but I love Luke to death,” said Anderson, “I want people to know in Illini Nation that he’s went to the other side, but that’s my baby, that’s our dog.”

While Luke Goode is now playing for Indiana, he did give this program three amazing years of winning and getting to the NCAA tournament. His hustle and heart will never be forgotten.

Some former Illinois basketball players didn’t leave on such a high note, though. Skyy Clark came into the Illini program with a lot of expectations, but his time in Champaign was short. Despite not being in an Illinois uniform anymore, Clark is still doing some good work for the Orange and Blue.

“He (Tre White) is dynamic, but the crazy thing about that whole thing is that, the relationship from there came with one of our former players (Skyy Clark) that was here and went to Louisville and told him to come here,” said Anderson, “he (Clark) said the worst mistake he ever made in his life was transferring from the University of Illinois. He will tell you to this day, his dad will tell you. So, any time he gets a chance to help us, he always, he literally just told him (White), hey, this is what you need to do.”

White is now in Champaign in part due to Clark coaxing him here. That is a big move for the Illini, as White is projected to be a starter for the program this upcoming season.

Illinois has a special assistant coach with Anderson. He is someone who has a bright future ahead, and let’s be thankful he is still with the program.

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