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Good Morning, Illini Nation: Impact of Orlando Antigua's return

Apr. 22—Brad Underwood has made some big moves this offseason. Landed a point guard in former five-star recruit Kylan Boswell. Took on a stretch big in Carey Booth and a dynamic wing in Tre White. Both were four-star prospects coming out of high school. Added a shooter in Jake Davis.

But Underwood's biggest offseason move — at least in terms of the strength of the overall program — came Sunday. Bringing back Orlando Antigua as associate head coach? That could have some positive ramifications on the Illini.

Antigua, of course, is recognized as one of the top recruiters in the country. Even in an age where high school prospects have waned in importance, the recruiting waters Antigua swims in can still be beneficial.

Targeting top 50-level prep recruits still has value. Antigua has shown he can get those players — both at Illinois and his other coaching stops (namely Kentucky, of course). Antigua, of course, was the lead recruiter in getting Kofi Cockburn and Andre Curbelo to Champaign. Cockburn turned into a two-time All-American. Pre-concussion(s) Curbelo dazzled as Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year as a freshman.

Antigua is also a noted big man coach. Turning him loose on Booth, Morez Johnson Jr., Jason Jakstys and what will likely be a big man from the transfer portal to be named later could be rather beneficial for the Illini.

As active as Underwood has been in the transfer portal this offseason, the move to bring back Antigua simply doubles down on the Illinois coach's intent to keep his program among the best in the Big Ten (and therefore the country). With three open scholarships still remaining for the 2024-25 season, there's plenty of room to further reap the rewards of Antigua's return.