Good Morning, Illini Nation: A look at top 2026 prospects

May 15—Brad Underwood has maintained, even in the height of transfer portal mania the past few years, that high school recruiting would remain a critical component of his roster building approach. All the 22- , 23- and 24-year-olds in the portal just put that kind of recruiting on hold.

But the number of older transfers will diminish starting next offseason with the last of the COVID bonus seasons of eligibility having been used. Underwood has said his staff would hit the Class of 2025 hard. Stands to reason, the same will be true in the Class of 2026.

Here's a look at where Illinois' current recruiting targets in the latter stand in the most recent rankings update from Rivals, including a few who earned honors:

Totaled 17 double-doubles and two triple-doubles for the Lions (23-6) and put up 20.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game.

17. T.J. Crumble, 6-8, PF, Richmond Heights (Ohio)

19. Miikka Muurinen, 6-10, PF, Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.)

Averaged 17 points, six rebounds and two assists for the Gray Bees (22-7).

Put up big numbers — 25.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists — for an OK team that went 16-12 last season.

Won a second straight Class 4A state title, averaging 20.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists for the Warriors (27-7). Had 29 points and eight rebounds in the championship game.

Second Team All-State selection averaged 17.5 points, four rebounds and 2.6 assists for the Wildcats (32-4) in their run to the state quarterfinals.

34. Deron Rippey Jr., 6-3, PG, Blair Academy (N.J.)

38. Adam Oumiddoch, 6-6, SG, Overtime Elite

40. Qayden Samuels, 6-5, SG, Bishop McNamara (Md.)

41. Marcis Ponder, 6-10, C, Miami Norland (Fla.)

42. Toni Bryant, 6-9, PF, North Tampa Christian (Fla.)

Son of 12-year NBA pro of the same name averaged 20.6 points and five rebounds for Lakers (24-8), who finished second in the Class 3A state tournament.

Missed the final eight games of the season but led the Monarchs (29-6) in scoring at 17.3 points per game to go with 5.6 rebounds per game.

60. Jonathan Sanderson, 6-3, PG, Saline (Mich.)

62. Steven Reynolds III, 6-5, SG, Washington (Ind.)

63. Gabe Weis, 6-7, SF, Montverde Academy (Fla.)

64. Yohance Connor, 6-1, SG, 1 of 1 Prep Academy (N.C.)

68. Sinan Huan, 7-0, C, Windermere Preparatory School (Fla.)

72. Gabe Sularski, 6-6, SG, Lemont

79. Felipe Quinones, 6-6, SG, IMG Academy (Fla.)

93. Rivers Knight, 6-8, C, Combine Academy (N.C.)