CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois basketball got an addition to the roster Tuesday with the school announcing Baylor transfer Dain Dainja has officially enrolled in school and started workouts with the team. The 6-foot-9, 270-pound forward redshirted with the Bears last season, with the team winning the NCAA title. After suiting up in the team’s first three games this season, he entered the transfer portal, ending up in Champaign. It means he will have to sit out the 2021-22 season.
Dainja committed to Illinois on Nov. 27 after taking a visit to State Farm Center to watch a game. The former Top 100, 4-star recruit is originally from Chicago but played his high school ball in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.
“Dain is a young man that we evaluated out of high school and loved his skill set at his size,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said in a statement. “He has great physical attributes, 7-7 length, a strong upper body, and a versatile game to either post up or put the ball on the floor and beat you off the dribble and with his passing. He’s an interior player that you can run offense through. Dain was part of a Baylor team that won an NCAA title, and we’re looking forward to him having a semester of practice with us and a full off-season of work with Fletch prior to suiting up next season.”
Illinois’ double-overtime loss to Purdue Monday afternoon evened the playing field in the Big Ten title chase, with seven teams now within two games of the first place Illini. A little more than a third of the way through conference play, Illinois controls its own destiny with a 6-1 record. Despite losses to No. 4 Purdue and No. 3 Arizona back in December, the 17th-ranked Illini (13-4, 6-1 B1G) say they are confident they’re one of the country’s best teams.
“I think we showed the world, the entire country that we belong,” Illinois sophomore forward Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk said.
“That we’re not Top 25, we’re Top 10,” Illinois senior guard Alfonso Plummer added.
“In my opinion we’re Top 2, not 2 and obviously we have to prove that first but this motivates us even more because a loss stings,” said Bosmans-Verdonk.
Illinois is back on the court Friday night at Maryland for a 6 p.m. start on FS1. The Terps (9-8, 1-5) lost to the Illini 76-64 two weeks ago in Champaign.