CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — It’s not if change is going to happen, it’s when it will happen in college basketball these days. The era of players staying at one school four or five years is long gone, you can thank the transfer portal for that. It can also be said in large part for assistant coaches, even if it’s not quite the same process. It’s all part of a new look for college hoops, something Illinois head coach Brad Underwood is embracing.
“It’s the way the world is going to be with the transfer portal, it’s the way the world’s going to be when you get good,” Underwood said. “You better have pros or you’re not getting good. I just think it’s the new norm when you’re successful. I’ve accepted that and I’m good with it but I’d much rather be doing that from the position we were in winning 16 games than trying to do it from the bottom.”
Underwood is in the midst of an offseason full of change, most notably his staff. Assistant coaches Orlando Antigua and Chin Coleman both left for Kentucky. One position has been filled with former Illini Chester Frazier coming back to Champaign, signing a 3-year contract worth $525,000 per season. The other spot on Underwood’s bench is still vacant.
Add in Ayo Dosunmu going to the NBA Draft, Giorgi Bezhanishvili pursuing pro opportunities, Kofi Cockburn declaring for the Draft (leaving the door open?) and Adam Miller transferring to LSU and it’s been a wild ride for the incoming fifth year head coach. The good news is Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams announced they’re returning for a free COVID-19 fifth season. The Illini also picked up Utah transfer Alfonso Plummer for a fifth season and Florida transfer Omar Payne, who signed a financial aid tender. There are three more prep players in the Class of 2021 as well, ranked No. 23 by 247Sports. Wisconsin’s Mr. Basketball Brandin Podziemski, Ramses Melendez and Luke Goode are all signed to suit up for the Illini this fall.