CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — For the Illinois men’s basketball team to improve next season, it will need more production from the wing position. That’s where sophomores Tevian Jones and Alan Griffin come into the picture.
“I feel like it’ll elevate this team to a whole ‘nother level, if we’re out there and successful then the whole team is going to be able to rock and run off that momentum,” Jones said.
Jones was a four-star prospect out of high school, while Griffin ranked as a three-star recruit. Both guys averaged less than 10 minutes a game last season but this summer, they’ve taken full advantage of their offseason training.
“I’ve been doing some extra stuff in the weight room, I’ve been doing some extra conditioning that I wasn’t really doing last year,” said Jones. “All that is building my body up and getting me prepared for the season.”
“It’ll be a lot different from last year, I know we were looking for a lead wing, and I feel like I can bring it this year,” Griffin said.
Griffin saw some success early in the season, with a game-high 11 points against Iowa State in Maui. Jones sat the bench for eight weeks after a suspension for violating team rules, but his breakout performance came against Maryland when he scored 18 points, leading the Illini to their first road win. With their sophomore season just around the corner, they feel more prepared for what’s in store.
“I needed that experience to get a little touch in there, get my feet wet,” Griffin added. “Now I know what to expect coming into this year and I feel like everything’s going to be a little different.”
“They gain confidence because it’s not new anymore,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said. “There’s a familiarity that breeds confidence and we’re seeing that with both of them.”
As the team prepares for its foreign trip to Italy, both guys say they’re ready to prove they can be high impact players for a team trying to bounce back from a 12-21 season.