Ex-Illinois star Terrence Shannon addresses ‘real serious’ sexual assault allegations ahead of trial, NBA Draft

Terrence Shannon will stand trial on sexual assault charges in Kansas next month

Terrence Shannon will stand trial on sexual assault charges in Kansas next month. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Content warning: This article contains depictions of alleged sexual assault.

Former Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr. addressed the sexual assault allegations against him for the first time Tuesday while at the NBA Draft combine.

While he didn’t get into specifics about the allegations against him or the sexual assault trial he’s facing next month, Shannon said he knows how “serious” the situation is.

“Obviously, it’s a real serious accusation and I’m aware of that, and I can’t go much into detail about it, but I’m just focused on what I can control, and that’s basketball and what I do on the court, in the weight room, with my family,” he said, via WCIA.

Shannon is accused of groping and sexually assaulting a woman in a crowded bar near the University of Kansas’ campus on Sept. 8, when he was in town for the Jayhawks’ football game against Illinois. The woman reported the incident to police the following day, and she visited a local hospital for sexual assault examination.

Shannon has denied the accusations repeatedly since then, and his lawyers pointed to the lack of witness testimony and surveillance evidence — “the alleged incident occurred in a very public bar” — in doing so.

Illinois suspended Shannon indefinitely on Dec. 28 after an arrest warrant was issued. He was granted a temporary restraining order that forced Illinois to reinstate him less than a month later, however, and he returned to finish the season with the Illini. He received some criticism from opposing fans, but he helped the Illini reach the Elite Eight while both he and the program largely stayed quiet about his legal case.

“I’ve said many times, I’m a college basketball coach,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said during the NCAA tournament. “When we found out, it was our athletic director Josh Whitman that informed me. Then it was a decision that was made by the university, and then obviously taken to the courts, and I’ve said all along I was going to coach the guys I had in the locker room. I was going to be the best supporter of those guys that I coach every day. We had to find a way to flourish through those tough times.

“Then he came back and joined us, he was a part of our team again. He has always been a great teammate. We got him back, and here we sit today.”

Shannon entered a not guilty plea at a hearing last week in Kansas. He is set to stand trial next month.

“I’m looking forward to my day in court,” Shannon said Tuesday, via ESPN.

Shannon averaged 23 points and four rebounds per game last season at Illinois. Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek has him going at No. 21 overall in the NBA Draft next month. His trial is expected to be finished by the draft.