Villanova announced on Thursday morning that senior guard Dylan Ennis will graduate this Spring and use his last year of eligibility at another school. Ennis, who played two seasons at Villanova after initially transferring from Rice University, started all 36 games this season and averaged 9.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 41.7% from the field (36.3% 3PT).
Could Champaign be his next stop?
According to Jay Wright, Ennis is "interested in finding a program that will allow him to play the role of a traditional point guard so he can be the primary ball-handler." That makes sense since, at 6'2, becoming a full-time point guard is Ennis' best shot at the NBA. This switch wasn't going to happen at Villanova next year thanks to the addition of Jalen Brunson.
John Groce and the Illinois coaching staff already have a relationship with the Ennis family because they recruited current Milwaukee Bucks guard Tyler Ennis out of high school; Illinois was one of Ennis' finalists before he elected to play at Syracuse.
So a prior relationship could be a factor, but what will Illinois' depth look like at point guard next year? Spoiler--it won't be too good.
Tracy Abrams will be back after sitting out the past season, but he's coming off a torn ACL and is a huge question mark. Jaylon Tate will most likely be the backup, but opposing defenses will continue to sag off him on the perimeter if can't develop a semi-consistent jump shot this offseason. Then, of course, there's Jalen Coleman-Lands; the incoming freshman seems to have the tools necessary to be the team's lead guard, but he's more of a shooting guard at the moment and Groce limits first-year players to only one position.
Could Dylan Ennis be the answer for Illinois? It's certainly possible, but the current scholarship and recruiting situation could present some challenges. Would the Illini pass on Marcus LoVett or another front court transfer if there's mutual interest between the two parties (and that's a big assumption at this point)? Let's just say that I'm glad I don't have to make those decisions.
Click here to see Illinois' other transfer targets
UPDATE: Contact has been made
Villanova transfer Dylan Ennis drawing serious interest from Oregon, Purdue, Illinois, Iowa St and Baylor among others #NCAA #CdnBallers
— Hoops Hype Canada (@HoopsHypeCA) April 6, 2015
UPDATE: It sounds like a face-to-face meeting has taken place
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>FWIW, Dylan Ennis has been sitting at a table at my part time job with Illinois coach John Groce and an assistant for a long time.</p>— Jeff Neiburg (@Jeff_Neiburg) <a href="https://twitter.com/Jeff_Neiburg/status/586257759798177792">April 9, 2015</a></blockquote>
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