Good Morning, Illini Nation: Busy week in the community

Aug. 24—Welcome to "Good Morning, Illini Nation," your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He'll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood's team:

The Illinois men's basketball program has spent quite a bit of time interacting with its fan base this week. Tuesday evening was the 99th Annual C-U Kiwanis Men's Basketball Tip Off Classic. The whole team — coaches, staff, players, managers, administrators — was introduced to the Illini fans ahead of the 2023-24 season that night.

"The one thing that happens when you're a college student is you talk to other college people," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said following Tuesday's event. "You sometimes don't get to talk with adults or professionals and get to know the people who are actually cheering for you. It's great for our fans because they see a number and a name on the back of a jersey, and now they can say, 'Well, man, that Coleman Hawkins is one teriffici young man.' To me, that's the most important part about events like this is the interaction and connection between student-athletes and our fans."

Wednesday marked the annual Illini Rebounders golf outing, and the Illinois coaches hit the links at Atkins Golf Club. It wasn't much of a burden considering several of them are avid golfers. Brad Underwood included.

Enjoyed getting out on the golf course today with our staff & our Illini Rebounders! Thanks for all you do to support our program.

— Brad Underwood (@CoachUnderwood) August 23, 2023

Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman sees the interactions between the basketball program and its fans this week as vital.

"In order for us to grow our programs, in order for us to take the steps forward we have and will continue to make, it truly is a community effort," Whitman said Tuesday evening. "We're fortunate to have a lot of community support from a lot of different groups, but this group in particular has continued to embrace our basketball program and tradition we have here at the University of Illinois on the hardwood."