Giorgi B steals Illini hearts during freshman season


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — More than 6,000 miles from his hometown of Rustavi, Georgia, freshman Giorgi Beshanishvili found a second home in Champaign as one of the rising stars of Illinois basketball.

“It’s just a really good place, I’ve been really, really lucky,” Bezhanishvili said. “I always say that I’m blessed to be here. It’s great for me, a great opportunity. I love our fans, and I’ve matured a lot as a player I think.”

Giorgi B, as people call him, has a charisma that makes him a fan favorite. On the court, he’s proven himself too. Ranked the 370th player in the country out of the Patrick School in New Jersey, Bezhanishvili became a top 20 scorer in the Big Ten, averaging 13.5 points per game during league play. The highlight was a season high 35 point performance against Rutgers, breaking the nearly 30-year freshman single game scoring record, previously held by Deon Thomas.

“You look back at the years that Ayo and Giorgi had, I think they’ve got to go down as some of the greats, all-time greats in the history of Illinois basketball,” head coach Brad Underwood said. “There’s a lot of growth to be had.”

It’s that growth that Bezhanishvili is most excited about. The Illini’s 21 losses mark a new program high, but Giorgi says their top 10 strength of schedule played a big part and playing against high major teams was a learning experience that will only help them moving forward.

“We could’ve won a lot of games, but those games taught us a lot. We set the base with that for this program to grow,” Bezhanishvili said. “We’re excited about the new guys coming in to teach them the struggle we’ve been through.”

There is no doubt Giorgi B has set the bar high following his historic freshman campaign and with his sights set on the offseason, he’s determined to help bring the program to the next level.

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