CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Brad Underwood has a good problem to solve.
For the first time in 15 years, the Illini have an experienced, deep, and talented roster, chalked full of players who know his system and two Top 50 recruits added to the mix. The return of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn instantly made Illinois one of the country’s best teams, after both guys pulled their name out of NBA Draft consideration. The question now is, who plays and how much?
“Playing time always works itself out on the court and depth,” Underwood said during a Zoom call with media on Monday. “I am excited, I can’t wait for practice because we’re going to have some incredibly competitive practices.”
The Illini are already starting to figure that out with summer workouts but the majority of work will be put in during preseason practices starting this fall. Dosunmu (First Team All-Big Ten) and Cockburn (Big Ten Freshman of the Year) are two of the best players in the conference and locks to start. Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams are seniors and started a combined 52 out of 62 games last year, both figure to once again be on the floor for tip-off again this year. That leaves one open spot for nine other guys, including highly touted freshmen Adam Miller and Andre Curbelo. Sit out transfers Jacob Grandison and Austin Hutcherson will also factor into the rotation, along with Giorgi Bezhanishvili.
“We’ve got a little time to figure all that out but again I think it’s going to be a real advantage to have depth as this season moves forward,” added Underwood.