Aug. 30—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:
Brad Underwood introduced everyone involved with Illinois men's basketball during last week's C-U Kiwanis Tip Off Classic. Managers. Administrators. Staff. Coaches. Players.
Last among those introductions, but certainly not least, was Terrence Shannon Jr. The veteran guard also got the biggest round of applause from the Illini fans present at the iHotel Conference Center.
It's a safe statement to make that Illinois' success in 2023-24 hinges on Shannon. His return after testing the NBA draft waters altered the Illini's fortunes ... because when he finally announced he was coming back there wasn't a Terrence Shannon-type transfer available anymore.
"Maybe one of the better years of any transfer in the country," Underwood said to describe Shannon's impact in 2022-23. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 17.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists and earned All-Big Ten honors.
"He came in, and I knew he'd been well coached," Underwood continued. "We recruited Terrence out of high school, as well, and he decided to go to Lubbock, Texas. Golly. What a place that is. We get him back, and he went through kind of a position change, but had a phenomenal year. He became a first-team all-league guy. He went through the process of the draft and would have been probably an early second-round pick and chose to come back here and made an unbelievable decision.
"There's no doubt I think he'll be a first-team or second-team All-American guy for us. A guy that I think will be a first-round draft pick in a year. I think he's got a chance to be one of the best two-way players in the country — offensively and defensively. I've just got to scream at him a little more on the defensive side, which I'll do, and he knows that."