Good Morning, Illini Nation: Navigating portal combat

May 6—Orlando Antigua is one of the most connected coaches in college basketball. It's a trait that Illinois coach Brad Underwood noted several times when he discussed bringing back the former Illini assistant as associate head coach.

It's what has made Antigua one to the most respected recruiters in the sport. And is still important even in this new era of college basketball where entire rosters flip in the offseason and recruiting out of the transfer portal turns into what Underwood has often called speed dating.

"Relationships are what get you in the door," Antigua said. "Then it's a matter of what you can sell in terms of your program and your vision. There's a lot to sell here. I think Illinois is a global brand. I don't think we'll limit where the Illinois brand can go."

Antigua said one of the advantages Illinois has in what's now dubbed "portal combat" is Underwood's background as a junior college coach.

"He had to do that an awful lot where you had to try and replenish and replace almost an entire roster every year," the old/new Illinois assistant said. "It's the landscape of basketball now. It's a lot of juggling. It's a lot of trying to put the pieces together. It's a lot of conversation, going back and forth, and trying to make sure that the pieces will fit and the kids can come in and continue the culture that's already been established here."