Illinois basketball has 2 first round picks in the early 2025 NBA mock draft

The 2024 NBA Draft is behind us, so it is time to look at the potential for an Illinois basketball player to be selected in 2025
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Practice Day - Omaha
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Practice Day - Omaha / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

While the 2024 NBA Draft is now complete, Illinois basketball fans have a couple of big reasons to keep an eye on the 2025 NBA Draft.

Terrence Shannon Jr. was selected in the first round of the 2024 NBA Draft on Wednesday. This was a big feat for the talented guard, and it was also a nice moment for the Illini.

Before Shannon, the last first-round NBA Draft pick to come out of Champaign was Meyers Leonard in 2012. Before Leonard, it was Deron Williams in 2005. First-round picks haven’t been plentiful, to say the least.

That could all be changing under Brad Underwood, though. Underwood now has two players selected into the NBA while being the head coach of the Illini. In 2025, we could see that number doubled, at least.

Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo of ESPN released an early 2025 NBA mock draft. In this mock draft, they have Illinois securing not one, but two first-round picks next season.

The first player to go off the board for the Illini is incoming freshman, Kasparas Jakucionis. He was sensational last season in the Euro League, averaging 19.0 points, 12.7 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.7 steals per game. ESPN has Jakucionis going No. 18 overall to the Utah Jazz.

Not too far down from Jakucionis is fellow incoming freshman, Will Riley. The recent five-star commit averaged 21.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game this summer in the Nike EYBL AAU league. ESPN has Riley being taken at No. 22 overall to the Brooklyn Nets.

ESPN 2025 NBA mock draft has a surprising Illinois basketball omission

It is amazing that Illinois has two incoming freshmen who are projected to be selected in the first round of the 2025 NBA Draft. That means this program has a very bright future for the 2024-25 campaign.

ESPN laid out the top 58 players in the 2025 NBA Draft. Surprisingly, Jakucionis and Riley were the only two Illinois players listed among the top prospects.

I honestly believe that Kylan Boswell should be listed as one of the top options for next year’s draft. He is a nice physical guard who has all of the attributes you want in a combo-guard. Boswell is great at distributing the basketball, averaging 3.6 assists per game. He can also knock down shots from anywhere on the court, as he took 4.8 three-point attempts last season and converted 37.9%.

My guess is that Boswell will get picked in the 2025 NBA Draft. The only question for me is, will the talented guard climb high enough to get into the first round?

I think Illinois could have a couple of other sneaky NBA prospects on the roster too. If Ben Humrichous can continue to hit anywhere near the 41.4% he shot from three-point range with Evansville in the Big Ten, then at 6-foot-9, he is going to be looked at by NBA scouts.

I wouldn’t be shocked if Morez Johnson Jr. gets a few looks from the NBA as well. His shooting might be a hindrance early on, but if Johnson can clean up on the glass as he did in the high school ranks, then the NBA will definitely be eyeing him.

This is by far the most talent I have seen on the Illinois basketball team in years. I think we are in for one special season.

Next. Projected Illinois basketball lineup after the commitment of Will Riley. Projected Illinois basketball lineup after the commitment of Will Riley. dark