Huge 5-star recruit moves Illinois basketball into his top 5

Brad Underwood has built the Illinois basketball roster into a contender once again, and adding another five-star to the mix would only elevate the program
Illinois v Penn State
Illinois v Penn State / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

Illinois basketball is looking to add more talent, and a five-star just added us to his top five.

The Illini went through something I don’t think I have ever seen in college basketball this offseason. We lost all but two players from an Elite 8 roster just months ago.

Brad Underwood went into action, and he was able to put together a pretty talented team for the 2024-25 campaign. Four incoming freshmen will join five transfer portal newcomers to help the two holdovers, Ty Rodgers and Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn, in forming what could be another Elite 8 squad.

Illinois’ incoming freshmen are impressive too. The highlight of the freshman class is Morez Johnson Jr. He is the highest-rated recruit Illinois has landed since 247Sports started calculating back in 2003

There is a possibility Underwood lands another player who would actually pass Johnson for that top spot. Last week, Illinois had Will Riley in for an official visit. He visited the Illini on June 3, tripped down to Kentucky on June 4, and then hit Alabama on June 6.

Coming into the visits, Riley already had a top-five set. He had Alabama, Arizona, Kentucky, Arkansas, and the NZ Breakers as potential destinations. As of Monday night, that top five has now changed.

Joe Tipton of posted to social media that Riley has a new top five. He still has Alabama, Arizona, Kentucky, and the NZ Breakers on the list, but the elite forward has decided to boot Arkansas out and replace the Razorbacks with Illinois.

This is a pretty big deal, and honestly, one that probably was a bit obvious looking at his official visits. Riley is an elite talent. He is a 6-foot-8, 180-pound forward from The Phelps School in Pennsylvania. He is rated as a five-star recruit and ranked as the No. 15 player in the class of 2025. He is also the No. 3 small forward in the country and the No. 2 player coming out of Pennsylvania.

Something to also keep an eye on is Riley’s potential to reclassify to the class of 2024. There are rumblings this could be happening, but nothing is set in stone until it does. But if Illinois can land Riley and then he reclassifies, that would give the Orange and Blue an incredibly dangerous lineup for the 2024-25 season.

Brad Underwood has the Illinois basketball team recruiting at a level we haven’t seen in decades

It would be incredible to land Riley. Having a five-star join the roster would be big for the program. Landing talented recruits isn’t anything new, though.

As I mentioned earlier, Underwood has been able to pull in some great talent with the highest-rated player, Johnson, coming in this season.

If you look at 247Sports’ all-time commits for the Illini, Underwood has actually landed the top four, which consists of Johnson, Ayo Dosunmu, Adam Miller, and Skyy Clark, in that order.

Underwood also has five out of the top six and seven out of the top 10 highest-rated recruits since 247Sports started calculating back in 2003.

Riley would be slotted in at the No. 1 spot if he picked the Illini. He has a composite rating of 0.9933, which is ahead of Johnson, who sits with a rating of 0.9898. On top of that, next season, Illinois has Jeremiah Fears coming into the program. He has a rating of 0.9873, which would put him at the No. 5 spot, right ahead of former NBA player Meyers Leonard.

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