The daily pitch from Sports Editor Matt Daniels: April 27, 2024

Apr. 27—➜ and to hundreds of high school coaches across the state for sending in nominations, The News-Gazette's 92nd All-State boys' basketball team is in today's paper.

➜ The future Illini headlines our latest All-State team as our Player of the Year thanks to a dominant season on the court from him that propelled Thornton to the Elite Eight.

➜ . Especially when the former Illini wears the pinstripe warmups of Indiana before the Hoosiers play Illinois. Let's hope the Big Ten has these two traditional rivals play twice next season, even with the revamped 18-team Big Ten about to happen.

Former Illini who have heard their name called in the second round of the NFL draft since the start of the 21st century. became the latest one on Friday night when the Washington Commanders picked him No. 36 overall. Newton joins (2023), (2015), (2012), (2012), (2011), (2010), (2005) and (2003) in this category since 2000.

➜ . OK, it's the first day of May. What's the big deal? Well, this Wednesday is when the transfer portal closes for men's and women's basketball players. We'll see what that means for Illinois.

➜ . After Friday night's 7-4 victory against the host Terrapins, the Illini will go for the Big Ten series win at 1 p.m. Saturday before the final game of the three-game series begins at 1 p.m. Sunday.

➜ . Two of the top teams in the Illini Prairie Conference and in Class 2A meet at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Meier Field in St. Joseph. Illinois signee leads SJ-O and Illinois State signee does the same for Monticello.

➜ the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cubs.

➜ John Wooden, Bill Belichick and Harvey Penick.

➜ tardiness.