(WCIA) — In head coach brad underwood’s first four seasons with the program he’s relied significantly on his freshman players, but that won’t be the case this year. His nationally ranked Top-25 recruiting class made of RJ Melendez, Brandin Podziemski, and Luke Goode are still expected to contribute, but Underwood says huis program is now more “established” with veterans leading in the lineup, and the team not having to rely as much on the freshman.
“That’s a nice comforting feeling knowing that you got guys that know what that’s like and have experienced that,” says Underwood. “I’m excited about our freshman, they do something different. And we’ll see how practices go.”
“I would definitely say the speed and the physicality is a huge difference, having to stay in front of someone as quick as Trent [Frazier] and [Andre] Curbelo — guys like that,” says Goode. “And then having to get a rebound over Kofi, guys as big as that. It’s a big difference, but I’ve been able to adapt well, and keep getting better everyday.”
Freshman are likely to see action in the first exhibition game on Saturday, October 23rd against St. Francis. The official season opener for the Illini is on November 9th against Jackson State.