No. 5 Center/Forward
- Starter: Morez Johnson Jr. (SO)
It might be a bit surprising if Morez Johnson Jr. is around for two seasons in Champaign and not heading to the NBA, but if he is back for his sophomore season, I have him starting at the No. 5 spot for the Illini. This kid is someone who can dominate the glass and own the paint with his great athletic ability.
Johnson enters the Illinois program from the class of 2024. He is currently a four-star recruit who is the No. 30 player in the country. I think Johnson is going to start from day one as a freshman, and by the 2025-26 season, he will be looked at as an All-American caliber player. Johnson has the ability of a superstar, and he will show that immediately with the program.
- Backup: Amani Hansberry (R-SO)
Illinois is going to have an insane one-two punch at the No. 5 spot in 2025. Johnson is going to be legendary as the starter, but I could also see Amani Hansberry coming in and getting minutes at the No. 4 or No. 5 spot for the Illini.
Hansberry has seen action in 10 games this season and has averaged 2.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per contest. I believe he will take a redshirt, so in 2025-26, he will be a redshirt sophomore. Hansberry has incredible ability, as he was the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year. I see him developing nicely next season and then being a legit threat to maybe snag a starting job in two years. Look for Hansberry to be a monster in the paint for the Illini.