Grandison back in starting lineup, Hawkins provides spark off the bench

Sports

CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois basketball switched up its starting lineup yesterday, with Jacob Grandison back in the mix for the first time since the game against Cincinnati. He scored his 1000th career point yesterday, with an 18 point performance in Illinois’ win over St. Francis. He’s establishing himself as one of best shooters on the team, averaging 17.3 points in the last four games.

“It’s not about who we’re playing really, it’s about us and Illinois and what we’re about,” says Grandison. “and that’s what we’ve been practicing in our practices all week, defense, being assignment sound, being in the gaps, and guarding your man and taking pride in that.”

“He’s a great great ambassador for what our program is trying to be about, and has been about, says head coach Brad Underwood. “The guys respect him in the locker room, and they know how hard he works. Jake has learned a lot from Ayo in his ability to prepare. guys respect that.

Grandison started in place of Coleman Hawkins yesterday. Up until Saturday, he was the only player to start in 10 consecutive games. In the loss to Arizona, Hawkins only played 12 minutes, grabbing two rebounds without scoring any points. After struggling the last four games, averaging just 5 points per game, he provided a spark off the bench, shooting an effective 3-4 in just nine minutes.

“No one has higher expectations for Coleman Hawkins than I do,” says Underwood. “I think that young mans going to have a long long career playing basketball. And to be honest he’s hit a bit of a rough patch, and he’s lost a little bit of confidence, and you try to mix things up a little bit. I was really proud of him, I was really mad at him at half. He gave up two offensive rebounds, he didn’t block out. And then in the second half, he responded to that challenge, and we’ve got to have Coleman Hawkins, Coleman has to impact us, he can be a tremendous defender.”

The Illini will be back against Missouri for the annual Braggin’ Rights game in St. Louis. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. CT.

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