Illinois Basketball: How the Illini lineup should look against Northwestern

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No. 5 Center/Forward - Coleman Hawkins

Despite Dain Dainja having a really good game against Fairleigh Dickinson, I think Illinois still needs to roll with Coleman Hawkins at the No. 5 spot.

Hawkins started playing again at the beginning of December after dealing with an injury. Since coming back, he has been sensational for the Illini. In this stretch, Illinois is 5-1 with the only loss coming on the road against Tennessee.

In the past four games alone, Hawkins has played the best basketball since joining the program. He has averaged 15.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.0 steals per game. Hawkins has also been shooting well, going 20-of-45, 44.4%, from the field and 13-of-29, 44.8%, from three-point range in the last four games.

Hawkins isn’t a traditional big man by any means. He has trouble posting up on the offensive end of the court, and opposing big men can back him down. But I like what Hawkins brings to the table. Overall, he is a really good player and should still be starting at the No. 5 spot.

I love Hawkins’ ability to pull opposing big men out of the lane. This makes scoring at the basket much easier for the Illini guards. He is also a legitimate threat to make a shot from three-point range. Illinois sometimes needs a player to bring the ball up the court, and Hawkins can do that as well. He is a utility player for the Orange and Blue.