(WCIA) — Illinois forward Jacob Grandison is finding his role, and it’s bigger than most expected. With four guys missing from the starting lineup in the season opener last week, Grandison scored a career-high 20 points. Through the first two games of the season, the former transfer has led the Illini with 17.5 points per game.
Even with Trent Frazier and Andre Curbelo back in the starting lineup on Friday’s game against Arkansas State, he still scored in double-digits to lead the team, and says this type of performance has always been in the cards for him.
“To be honest, I’ve had the abilities that I have, and that I’ve shown in the first two games, we just needed the opportunity and the platform,” says Grandison. “That’s kind of been my story is just needing the opportunity to prove myself.”
Grandison says a took a lot away from his experience playing with the Finnish national team this summer, while head coach Brad Underwood adds it has improved his game significantly. Last season, Grandison averaged just 4.6 points, and 3.4 rebounds per game.
The California native is expected to play a big role for the Illini on Monday, with Kofi Cockburn serving the third and final game of his NCAA suspension. The Illini will tip-off for their first road game of the season against Marquette. Game is set for 6 p.m. CT on FS1.