Illinois Basketball: Top 5 Illini hopes and expectations for the New Year

Valparaiso v Illinois
Valparaiso v Illinois / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
4 of 5

4. Terrence Shannon Jr. wins the Big Ten Player of the Year

When you think about it, the fact neither Ayo Dosunmu nor Kofi Cockburn won the Big Ten Player of the Year is kind of Crazy. This is an award that has eluded the Illini for a long time.

People talk about how we are still living in the past with the 2005 national title run, but you have to go back to the 2004-05 season to find the last time Illinois had a player win the Big Ten Player of the Year award. That honor went to Dee Brown.

I believe Illinois has a player who is working his way into the conversation for Big Ten Player of the Year in 2023-24, though. Terrence Shannon Jr. has put up some amazing numbers. While his numbers jump off the page, he is performing well and doing it efficiently.

Shannon is averaging 21.7 points per game while hitting 51.4% from the field, 77.1% from the free throw line, and 40.8% from the three-point arc. Those are great numbers alone, but what he has done to help Illinois win is also impressive.

The Illini are 9-2 this season and are currently ranked No. 11 in the nation. As mentioned in an earlier slide, that is the highest Illinois has been ranked since November 2021.

Shannon has some tough competition, though. Purdue’s Zach Edey won the award last season, and he is playing well this time around too. Without a doubt, though, Shannon has entered the chat when it comes to the Big Ten Player of the Year. In the New Year, I want the streak to end and for an Illinois player to secure the coveted conference award.